Hundreds sign petition against De Montfort University's apartment plan for vice-chancellor
Hundreds of people have signed a petition objecting to De Montfort University's plans to develop rent-free living quarters for its vice-chancellor.
Doug Bradbury, a first-year mechanical engineering student at the university, launched the online petition after details of the £134,000 project to convert part of a Grade II-listed building on campus were published in the Leicester Mercury.
A three-bedroom flat is being developed on the first and second floors of the property, known as 1 Mill Lane.
The home will be made available to vice-chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard, who currently lives in private accommodation off campus, and any future holders of the post.
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The 18-year-old's petition says: "Stop wasting student tuition fees on accommodation for the VC."
Launched a week ago, on the website www.change.org , the petition was signed by about 400 people in its first 24 hours. By yesterday evening, it had attracted more than 760 signatures.
Doug, from Halifax, yesterday told the Mercury he had been invited to a meeting with the vice-chancellor to discuss the issue.
He said he started the petition after feeling a "pang of anger" about the expense of the apartment.
He said: "I am just reflecting what a lot of the students I have spoken to have said.
"They think the university should be spending money on students' education, not on accommodation for the man who is probably earning the highest salary on the campus.
"I did it to bring attention to it. It exploded at the start but it has slowed down since."
The Mercury contacted the university yesterday to ask for a comment on the petition. It had not responded at the time of going to press.
The university has previously stressed the vice-chancellor's accommodation is just one part of an overall £1.3 million conversion of the building, which is largely disused but hosts the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce offices.
Most of the £1.3 million will be spent on new offices and classrooms and there will be a £225,000 hospitality suite for entertaining VIP visitors to the campus, who would currently be looked after in marquees or external venues.
It is part of a wider £100 million investment in refurbishing the campus.
Doug said he supported the overall campus improvements, but not the provision of vice-chancellor's accommodation.
In a statement previously issued to the Mercury, Ian Blatchford, chairman of the university's board of governors, said: "The board of governors felt it was essential to bring DMU into line with other universities to help attract and retain the very best leadership.
"We looked at a number of alternatives and it was clear that the most cost-effective option was to take the opportunity of the refurbishment of 1 Mill Lane to provide suitable accommodation."