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UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD EXPENSES PART TWO
 

Star date: 17th October 2011

SALFORD – A FIRST CLASS UNIVERSITY…
£1.85million a year on travel, hotels, accommodation and subsistence!

After a two year battle, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that while the University of Salford was axing staff to save money during the year 2007-8, it was spending £1.85million a year on travel, hotels, accommodation and subsistence. That works out at £5,000 a day.

Meanwhile in that year, the publicly funded University also spent almost £1,500 on 'room floral/plant arrangements' for the offices of the Vice Chancellor and Registrar.

Full details here…


Last week the Salford Star delved into the recently released 2007-08 accounts of the Salford University. The University was forced to release the information after a two year battle for access to this information by former student, Damien Shannon via the Information Commissioner.

Headed 'operating expenses', the figures make interesting reading. In the same year that staff were being axed to save money under Project Headroom, the University spent just under £4million of taxpayers and students pounds on 'consultants' (see here). Some of the staff who lost their jobs might be interested to know where the University were spending money. It seems quite a bit went on travel costs.

Before we go further it might be worth stating that any university would ordinarily spend money on staff travel costs. Academics travel to conferences in the UK and abroad. Managers and senior managers would also travel abroad on behalf of the University, not unlike ambassadors for the institution. The University would also send staff abroad for student recruitment purposes. So some travel costs are inevitable for the University to develop. But even so, the figures are quite astonishing – a figure just shy of £1million (£977,888)!

So in 2007-08 where did the money go? The travel costs are broken down into three main areas: 
Staff Travel – Rail: £215,364 (£4,141 a week)
Staff Travel – Other: £321,286  (£6,178 a week)
Staff Travel – Air Fares: £441,221 (£8,485 a week  or £1,200 every day)

By our calculations it seems the University spent on average every day £2,700 on travel costs which is a lot of Day Savers in anybody's books.

But the accounts expose even more astonishing sums spent by the University.
Staff who travel abroad on University business stay in accommodation or hotels and are reimbursed 'subsistence'. When the costs of 'Hotels and Accommodation' are added in at £187,377 (£3,600 per week) and the cost of 'Staff Accommodation and Subsistence' at £684,308 (£13,160 per week), the total cost a week on the above averages out at £35,500 spent every week of the year on travel, hotels and staff accommodation including subsistence or £1.85 million a year, or around £5,000 every single day of the year.

And we haven't included the £219,823 spent by the University on 'Taxis, coaches, etc'...

It's a lot of money by anyone's calculations and spending such vast sums on hotels, flights and food poses one or two questions; like how many staff travelled Business or First Class instead of taking cheapest option to save money? The Salford Star would also like to know if the running costs of the Vice Chancellor's and the Registrar's chauffeur-driven limos are included in the above?

We'd like to give our readers the opportunity of seeing precisely who spent what but the University haven't released the detailed accounts. Mind you, £1.85 million  spent on travel, hotels and food does make the £1,491.51 spent that year on 'room floral/plant arrangements' in the Vice Chancellor's and Registrar's office a tad insignificant by comparison…


Words: Daniel T. Rhead

 

 

UoS wrote
at 12:18:40 on 21 October 2011
@Jim Devine - oddly enough, Martin Hall still appears to think that the request the University complied with was not legitimate as it cost too much. He still thinks he could have legitimately refused the request and seems to be trying to imply that complying with it was an act of benevolence! Strange that since the Information Commissioner's Office seems to think differently. Clearly Professor Hall is a very 'creative' thinker...
 
jim devine wrote
at 09:01:34 on 21 October 2011
UOS, for me the fact it resisted reasonable FOI requests for so long kinda destroys any integrity it might have had. I personally feel jail sentences should be afoot for such blatant disregard for the public, and i really mean that. Unfortunately its only a very very small amount of individuals like the Salford Star who are prepared to go were most journalists are afraid to tread. Just like the Nazis the people in power will have queues of people with vested interests looking to make excuses for them until they are gone then they queue up to disown them. Im off to listen to Pink Floyds SHEEP.
 
wrote
at 16:16:35 on 20 October 2011
I wake up each day and thank my gods for the Salford Star and the Manchester Mule. Apologies to all those in journalism who believe they have any power to bring so called 'balance' to such an entrenched and unjust situation. Sorry - Its too late for that. But still time for you to learn from those who have been crushed. “Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” ― Paulo Freire
 
Nachtsclepper wrote
at 16:16:08 on 20 October 2011
If it's brown & smells like shit it's a turd.
 
UoS wrote
at 11:57:03 on 20 October 2011
@Jim Devine - the point is that there is no evidence with which to "take sides" at the moment. You can't - as 'nonliberal' suggests - assert authoritatively that staff were sacked to cover the cost of flights and hotels, or flowers and consultants. The data allows for this but it does not prove it - correlation does not equal causation. Journalism does not enhance its own credibility or reliability when the conclusions it draws run ahead of the available evidence. Also nobody has yet answered my question of whether the University were approached when this 'article' was written? There is a difference between taking sides and drawing premature conclusions.
 
Jim Devine wrote
at 09:08:21 on 20 October 2011
"The whole point of journalism is to present a balanced view" states Laura. I cant remember the magnificent award winning jounalist John Pilger being too balanced in his pursuit of the Kmher Rouge. Sometimes journalists need to drop the wishy washy appeasement of our leaders and their stooges thats also why i like The Star.
 
UoS wrote
at 09:08:14 on 20 October 2011
@'Fadge' - with respect, it's not the Salford Star who exposed this!
 
nonliberalist wrote
at 09:08:06 on 20 October 2011
@Feminist_Laura, yes you are entirely correct. I have now read your balanced and very professional article in Salford Student Direct. This is definitely how an article should be written. The Salford Star should hang its head in shame. Because of your article, I'm so much wiser with regard to what I thought was profligate spending at Salford and now know precisely where the millions were spent. No one reading your article could accuse you of injecting a good degree of opacity into a subject that is clearly of public concern. The bit where you grilled the Vice Chancellor on the no doubt significant sums spent on exactly what he meant by 'consultants' and 'consultancy fees' was almost a master class in balanced journalism. Your keen sense of irony was most noticeable when you were nailing him on the exact amount it cost in legal fees to not release this information in the first place. I was particularly taken with the section where you raised the issue of the 150 academic jobs that were uncermoniously axed so the University could continue to spend vast sums on air fares, hotel accommodation and flowers for the Registrar. Given the massive increase in University fees, I'm sure students will be breathing a huge sigh of relief and sleeping soundly knowing that they have an investigative journalist par excellence fighting their corner. Finally, your attack on the Salford Star is a clever tactic which has not in any way let the University off the hook. You are to be heartily congratulated on your non-partisan stance.
 
stephen kingston wrote
at 19:56:09 on 19 October 2011
See Feminist Laura comment below - I assume you are the editor of Student Direct and wrote both the article about the expenses in your newspaper and the piece about the `local news website' (ie the Salford Star) "That created a model of news journalism which I would strongly advise Journalism students not to follow" etc etc... Although I personally didn't write the Expenses piece, as editor of the Star I totally support its tone, especially having experienced Salford University's questionable ethics towards Freedom of Information requests first hand. I could go on but this ain't the place. Suffice it to say that the Salford Star helps around 30 Salford University students a year with research, interviews and work experience. Now, thanks to the University's fantastic student newspaper advising them against the Star, we're going to turn them all away. But don't worry, I'll give them your e-mail - I'm sure you know a lot more about journalism than we could ever know...
 
Fadge - No Hope in this dead city wrote
at 19:33:36 on 19 October 2011
What response would you expect ? The University cannot defend the indefensible . Congrats to the Salford Star for exposing this . It is unbelievable that we have the most wasteful university and the most wasteful council in britain in the same Deadcity .
 
Ned Land wrote
at 19:33:09 on 19 October 2011
Logical assessments ? As in matching shoes and handbag ?
 
Feminist_Laura wrote
at 14:30:21 on 19 October 2011
@Nachtschlepper... the University commented for MY newspaper I think you'll find... @nonliberalist: Forgive me if I don't take the opinions of somebody like you entirely seriously. Whilst you appear to believe it's fine to take sensationalist tat as read, I prefer to have both sides on the table before I start making any assumptions. If this makes me idealistic - so be it, but how are we supposed to take sides and argue points properly if we don't have all of the information? I'd also thank you for not referring to me as a University stooge, which I can assure you I am not. @UoS Congratulations for being the only person on this forum capable of making logical assessments.
 
UoS wrote
at 07:43:12 on 19 October 2011
I hate to sound like an accountant, but numbers alone really do tell us little. For instance, funding councils make discretionary grants for travel, subsistence and conferences etc. Unless you can identify any relationship between expenditure and revenue it is rather difficult to draw correct conclusions - a lot of money comes attached with certain conditions that it be spent on certain things. Much of the expenditure will have been tied to a particular revenue stream, whereas much will also have been discretionary. Either way it is not necessarily correct to state or to imply that X amount of tuition fees were spent on Y amount of profligacy - this gives a distorted view of things. That said I would be extremely surprised if, on closer examination, none of this money came from 'no strings' revenue (HEFCE grants and tuition fees, oddly, usually have few strings attached to them). If you delve deep enough into a £200m annual budget you will always find something that could've been better spent. The point is now that the people who matter - staff, students and tax payers - can view for themselves how the money is spent and have a say on what they think should and shouldn't be prioritised. This has not been possible until now because the University have - unfortunately - spent considerable sums of money and gone to considerable lengths in their attempts to refuse to comply with legitimate Freedom of Information Requests. As to the 'nonliberalist' who posted before, since you seem to be variously of the opinion that: individuals are incapable of concluding for themselves what does or does not constitute profligacy; the truth cannot tell its own story; and people's impressions of facts must be 'guided' by ill-conceived commentary, then I can only presume you must be a socialist. "People are not the best judges of their own welfare" and so on. I agree with "Feminist Laura" that the University should have had an opportunity to respond (were they approached?).
 
nonliberalist wrote
at 22:14:16 on 18 October 2011
It's hilarious and I almost pissed myself laughing. No, not at the millions wasted by the University but that "Feminist-Laura" didn't agree with the way the above article had been written. Maybe she should read about this disgusting waste of money by Adrian Graves and his former lackey the overpaid ex Vice Chancellor Michael Harloe in the thoroughly impartial and 'balanced' Guardian or Independent. Oh yes, I forgot, they're not queueing up to write any stories about the way in which the University seem to think the public purse is their personal bank account. Neither are they climbing over themselves to write about the ongoing shennanigans at Salford Council. As for the claim that 'the whole point of journalism is to present a balanced argument' is a typical 'liberal' view which accepts the premise that journalists should position themselves in the sphere of impartiality, that somehow they exist independently outside the world that they comment on. It's an argument which appears on the surface very reasonable but is, when all is said and done, nothing more than idealist nonsense. "Feminist-Laura" like the usual University stooges, like clockwork can be relied upon to seed just such rubbish. I read the Salford Star precisley because it takes sides and exposes corruption and sharp practices by the elected and the unelected. Well done the Star! Keep 'em coming!
 
caroline wrote
at 19:50:04 on 18 October 2011
You have to spend money to bring investmemt..agree..but the sums are. silly...read what Mary Feirrer has to say..and help her...Bindloss
 
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 15:39:15 on 18 October 2011
It took a two year battle to get this information from the University & you honestly think they are going to comment? Wake up at the back.
 
Feminist_Laura wrote
at 03:54:14 on 18 October 2011
As much as I don't agree with the lavish expenditure of the University on "room floral/ plant arrangements" and "medical expenses" - to highlight some of the more "frivolous" payments - I also don't agree with the way this article has been written. This isn't so much an "article" as a "rant". Even then I think your arguments would have been considerably improved if you had attempted to attain a response from the University. The whole point of journalism is to present a balanced argument - something you clearly don't comprehend, "Daniel T. Rhead".
 
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