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UEA to take over SU Shop and other outlets

UEA has agreed with UEASU to take over management of several SU outlets and provide the SU with additional funding after concerns the SU would go bankrupt. A Freedom of Information request by Concrete has revealed the University will give UEASU block grant funds and access to an interest-free loan among other financial benefits.

The University agreed with the SU they: “will operate the Catering and Retail outlets (SU Shop, Unio Coffee and food sales in the SU bar) that are currently managed by the SU”.

This is part of an “overall finance package agreed between the University and the SU Trustees in response to the financial challenges faced by the SU that have been made worse by the impact of COVID-19.”

There was fear for the SU in recent times due to a considerable lack of funding, with Alicia Perez, chair of the SU’s Finance Committee having said in February the SU may go bust in a few years, as reported by Concrete.

The University also said they: “will provide the SU with additional block grant funds to at least cover the contribution that was made by these outlets” and furthermore: “is also making available an interest free loan to the SU”.

A statement from Hamish Williams, UEASU Campaigns & Democracy Officer, said the SU’s “existing model of being 80% reliant on our commercial activity was not sustainable. We have worked closely with the University on a new agreement which has brought this figure down to 40%, more in line with the industry.”

Mr Williams also said: “Discussions are on-going with the university around the transition of these services but the provisions and services offered by these outlets will remain including the fantastic range of products they offer.”

Mr Williams also stated UEA and the SU had reached “a new rent agreement”. Concrete reported earlier this year UEASU was previously paying £700,000 in rent out of the £1,400,000 received from UEA, whereas Bristol SU was given their building free of rent, Reading University SU paid £100 in rent, and Warwick SU paid £437,000 out of a £3,000,000 grant.


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28/08/2020

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Sam Hewitson and Matt Branston