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.
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.”
Photograph: sebix67 via Flickr