The Tab, the bane of journalism and the antichrist to facts, yet again misses the big picture. In a recent article they stated that Anton Muscatelli, the University’s Principal and Vice Chancellor “has been scamming the expenses system, using it to pay for his first class flights.” Among their complaints was that Muscatelli had spent just under £30,000 on business and first class flights, but they completely ignored the work he has done for the University in relation to the “internationalisation” project and the copious amount of money the man has earned for the University. The Tab should just stick to what it does best: shaming students in bad club photos.
Firstly, stop this ludicrous claim that Anton is “scamming the innocent student or taxpayer.” The University of Glasgow is in the top 10 of the UK’s richest universities, and that’s not from tuition fees or the Library Cafe; that’s through smart investment, and smart business. Anton Muscatelli was recently ranked in the top 5% of the UK economists; he is the epitome of a smart businessman. He earns the University far more than he “scams” from the expenses systems. Furthermore, all of the flights he takes are documented, legal, and well within the rules as they currently stand.
In 2010 the University published Glasgow 2020 – A Global Vision – a vision that has already led to the creation of campuses in Singapore and China, establishing Glasgow University as a world-class institution. Now how exactly was Muscatelli meant to implement this Global Vision from a desk in sunny old Glasgow? The Tab could very easily have emphasized the potential for using technology like video conferencing as a substitute for environmentally-unfriendly long haul flights, but I would argue that nothing beats a physical human presence.
The article seemed to insinuate that Muscatelli was costing the University money, yet since taking up office, the University’s net worth has nearly doubled, rising from roughly £89m in 2009 to £163m in 2014. From 2013 to 2014, endowment and investment income increased by 43.3%, which is a tremendous amount that only seems to be increasing. Of course, to attribute this to Muscatelli alone would be absurd, but the man is obviously doing something right.
He is in the position of Vice-Chancellor through hard work and merit; one does not simply go from being a lecturer in political economy to the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of a university, as well as being regarded as one of the UK’s best economists, without guts and brainpower.
However, to partially wipe some of the brown from my nose, there are a few issues with Muscatelli’s jetsetting. To kick off, with these new international campuses popping up like pimples across the face of Asia, when do we get our say? Will these students in Asia get any form of representation on the SRC? Will they be able to access its services?
Furthermore, there are numerous complaints about overcrowding on the Gilmorehill campus. I and dozens of other students had to sleep in bunk beds for the first year of university due to a lack of suitable accommodation, and with no short term solution in sight, why is our Principal spending so much of his time overseas? Have investments and globalisation taken priority over the wellbeing of students here in Glasgow? We may, hopefully, receive an answer to these questions soon, but for the moment they are little more than menacing problems on the horizon. But after all that, there is one thing we can be certain of: you can always trust The Tab to get it wrong.