Durham University academics spent £2,614 on Las Vegas work trip

By Clara Gaspar

Two members of Durham University academic staff spent £2,614 at Caesar’s Palace Casino during a work trip to Las Vegas, a freedom of information request has revealed.

An investigation by The Sun has revealed that staff at universities nationwide used taxpayer-funded credit cards to spend £204 million. This included expenditure on lap-dance clubs, high-end nightclubs and expensive trips to destinations including football grounds and racecourses.

Over a period of 20 months, Durham University expenses totalled £17 million, including a £2,614 bill from Las Vegas Casino, Caesar’s Palace.

The requests also revealed that Northumbria University spent £2,184 on a ‘corporate event’ at lap-dancing club Spearmint Rhino

In February 2016, two members of academic staff attended a conference for business purposes in Las Vegas. They both stayed for seven nights and the cost incurred covered accommodation, internet access and taxes.

Denise McConnell, Interim Chief Financial Officer at Durham University, told Palatinate: “Durham University has clear policies and procedures in place for the use of all purchasing and travel cards.

“Purchasing and Travel cards are issued to staff to enable them to carry out approved University business in the most cost effective way possible.

“Expenditure on all cards is regularly checked to ensure staff adhere to the University’s policies and procedures.”

Nottingham University’s expenses ranked the highest, with a combined £19.8 million spent on staff credit cards. Meanwhile the equivalent figures for Liverpool and Oxford stand at £18 million and £11 million respectively.

The requests also revealed that Northumbria University spent £2,184 on a ‘corporate event’ at lap-dancing club Spearmint Rhino, Loughborough paid £2,875 on a trip to Manchester United’s football ground, Old Trafford, and Cardiff spent a total of £3,497 on food and drink at Dominos pizza.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told The Sun: “Universities are now big businesses and appear to have picked up some bad habits.

“They should have to publish these spending records annually.”

@ClaraGGaspar

Photograph: sebix67 via Flickr

One Response

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  1. Assistant Professor
    Aug 08, 2018 - 06:15 PM

    I can’t speak for the goings-on at the other Universities, but concerning the behaviour of the Durham academics, the obvious response to this story is ‘so what’?

    Attending international conferences is an essential part of being a research-active academic. Las Vegas sometimes hosts such conferences. So, once we get past the innuendo, what particular problem does the author think they are bringing to the reader’s attention?

    It’s also not clear what the source of the money they spent might have been. Some of the money that comes to Universities as part of research grants is earmarked for this very purpose. In fact, the vast majority of it does.

    So, I am not sure what the story is, exactly. What purpose does an article such as this serve?

    Reply

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