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Southampton uni spends nearly £400k on expenses for senior staff

More than any other university in the country

An investigation into Vice Chancellor expenses in 157 universities across the UK found that the University of Southampton had the highest expense claims, amounting to £400,000 for 17 of its senior managers.

The figures were obtained by Channel 4's Dispatches programme through a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, and found that senior university staff have claimed £7.8m in expenses over 2 years.

The documentary reveals that vice chancellors have claimed expenses for some incredibly non-essential things such as 5* Restaurants and Hotels, executive taxis to and from London, a Fortnum & Mason hamper and even a Pornstar Martini.

However, Southampton Uni demonstrated the highest expense total out of every university studied – nearly £400,000 over a 2 year period. Just to put that into perspective; £400k is a years' tuititon fees for 43 students.

Southampton University commented that "…Legitimate and carefully scrutinised expenses, by 17 key academic leaders and senior management, were an essential and appropriate investment in the university's UK and global partnerships and research".

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Students recently forced a meeting with the VC in relation to the pension cuts

These revelations come at a turbulent time for British universities; not only have vice-chancellors wage packages come under intense scrutiny recently, but teaching staff countrywide are currently striking due to proposed cuts to staff pensions.

University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Sally Hunt said: "The lack of self-awareness while they feather their own nests yet hold down staff pay, use insecure contracts and try to slash pensions, is quite staggering."

With Sir Christopher Snowden being one of the highest paid Vice-Chancellors in the country, and senior staff claiming more expenses than any other univeristy, does Southampton need to be more transparent about the way it is spending our tuition fees?

Catch Dispatches – Britain's University Spending Scandal on 4od