Channel 4’s programme Dispatches has uncovered how much university vice chancellors claim in expenses through a series of Freedom of Information requests.
They approached 157 universities. 5 of these, including Oxford and Manchester, provided no response. While 8, including Leeds and Cambridge, refused to participate.
It was discovered that, over a period of 2 years, senior university managers had claimed close to £8 million in expenses.
Most of the expenses were claimed over international travel trips. These trips included first class travel, 5-star hotel bookings, and fine dining for the chancellors. These being claimed as they were promoting their institutions worldwide.
However, it also showed that a large sum had been claimed for far more unusual items. These including gifts such as mugs and designer cushions.
The University of Surrey, it was revealed, had forked out £1,600 in order to transport its new vice chancellor’s Maltese terrier from Australia to the UK. This was included in Max Lu’s ‘relocation package’ which was a total of £15,000. A spokesperson for the University of Surrey defended the payment as ‘reasonable relocation expenses’.
The University of Sheffield’s vice chancellor, Sir Keith Burnett had claimed £3,107.54 for his 5-night stay in Mandarin Oriental, a luxury hotel in Singapore.
Joining him was Professor Graham Galbraith, the vice chancellor of the University of Portsmouth. Galbraith claiming £5,187.33 for his flights and accommodation during his 4 night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
However, it was Southampton University that was found to have the highest expense claims. Totalling £400,000 for 17 of their senior managers. A spokesperson for this university stated that these claims were perfectly legitimate and had come under careful scrutiny.
What was unusual was the claims made for small ticket items.
Leeds Trinity University had expense claims including porn star martini cocktails and a set of £32.50 Laura Ashley mugs.
The University of Winchester claimed for a cushion, costing £5 and a Fortnum & Mason hamper.
There was even a claim for a stick of rock submitted by seniors at Brighton University.
This news comes after Prime Minister Theresa May criticised these vice chancellors for participating in the setting of their own pay.
She had said she was ‘concerned’ after a discussion over these university seniors said that they take home hundreds of thousands of pounds after taking part in determining their salary.