Edinburgh University has made nearly £800k hiring out its buildings this year

£514k has been made from the JMCC alone

The University of Edinburgh has made approximately £786,000 from hiring out its own venues since August 2022, the Edinburgh Tab can reveal.

The university hosts both internal and external events in venues across the city, including St Leonard’s Hall, the John McIntyre Conference Centre at Pollock Halls, Appleton Tower, McEwan Hall, and the Playfair Library at Old College.

By far the most money came from hiring the John McIntyre Conference Centre at Pollock Halls (more commonly known as the JMCC), generating a staggering £514,000 worth of profit already this year.

The figures show a significant increase in university profits from its venues in 2022-23 compared to during the pandemic. In the academic year 2020-21, which saw much disruption due to Covid, only £1k of profit was generated from hiring out any of these venues.

The uni swiftly bounced back to generating £423k of profits in the 2021-22 academic year.

The boost to nearly £800k so far this academic year comes amidst the UCU strikes for higher pay and pensions, and an ever-increasing squeeze on the cost of living for students and staff.

The figures, obtained by The Tab Edinburgh through a Freedom of Information request, show that while only one revenue-generating event was held in 2020-21, over 250 events have already been held in the 2022-23 year.

The university says “income generated is reinvested back into the University to enhance the overall student experience”.

These figures do not account for the profits from hiring out venues during the Edinburgh Festival, during which dozens of university spaces are hired out for comedy shows and live events. It also does not account for the out-of-hours hire of spaces, including for student societies, which only pay to cover the cost of keeping the room open outside normal hours.

The University owns buildings across the city

Revenue from venue hire, August 2022-February 2023

  • John McIntyre Conference Centre (JMCC): £514,00 (89 events)
  • Central Area (Appleton, 50 George Square): £24,000 (4 events)
  • McEwan Hall: £111,000 (15 events)
  • Old College: £18,000 (71 events)
  • St. Leonard’s: £119,000 (104 events)

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “The University offers a range of conference, meeting and catering facilities which can be hired by staff, students, alumni and external parties.

“In the majority of cases, the University does not charge for the hire of its venues for core events, such as student conferences, careers fairs or Students’ Association events such as student society and sports club bookings.

“For other events unrelated to the core events list, many spaces provide free or discounted rates to students and staff. The University charges venue hire for events that are commercial or have income generating purposes and prices are benchmarked against other historic venues in the city. Any income generated is reinvested back into the University to enhance the overall student experience.”

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