Spending on wine by the university's 30 colleges from 2010 until
2013 was nearly 7.9 million pounds ($13 million)!
Students at Cambridge University in England have held a "Wages Not
Wine" demonstration in response to figures showing that their colleges
spent 3 million pounds ($5 million) on wine last year, while failing to
pay some workers the minimum wage.
The figures were revealed by the Daily Telegraph, which had submitted
a Freedom of Information request. They showed that spending on wine by
the university's 30 colleges from 2010 until 2013 was nearly 7.9 million
pounds ($13 million).
The Cambridge News reported that the total bill for 2013 meant the
colleges had spent the equivalent of 7,000 pounds ($11,538) per day on
The highest spender was King's College, with an alcohol budget of
338,559 pounds ($558,191). At least 50,000 pounds ($82,446) of this is
spent on wine for the college's fellows. At the same time, protestors
claim that King's employs dozens of staff on less than the U.K. minimum
wage of 7.65 pounds ($12.28) per hour.
Barney McCay, one of the leaders of the King's Living Wage Campaign,
told the Cambridge News: "King’s has consistently stated that it
supports the principle of a living wage, if only it had the funds. So
it’s a real slap in the face to find out that a sum is being spent on
wine that would be more than enough to pay its entire staff a living
King's bursar Keith Carne said some of the wine was sold on, with the
profits going to charity, while "another significant part" was used at
events for external groups or purchased by college members. "A very
small part is for use at internal dinners," he added.
A 2011 article on the King's College website states: "For many
outside Cambridge the image of sherry-soaked fellows and champagne
guzzling graduates is synonymous with college life. And it is true that
wine, its sale, and consumption have played (and continue to play) a
large role in college life and activities."
The cellar dates back to 1446, when Henry VI granted the college an annuity of one tun or 256 gallons of Gascon wine.
A Freedom of Information request in 2010 revealed that Trinity
College's wine collection was worth 1.67 million pounds ($2.7 million).
The collection comprised more than 25,000 bottles.
Trinity's wine steward told the Varsity newspaper that bottles were
usually reserved for fellows and guests of the college. He added:
"Students drink the same wine as the fellows when they are guests."