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Sussex executives claim nearly £60,000 in expenses

The University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group (VCEG) has claimed almost £60,000 in expenses over the past two calendar years, the Badger can reveal.

In total, the seven members of VCEG claimed £59,935.97 on accommodation, travel, hospitality and food, conference attendance fees, training and work related calls in 2013 and 2014.

The Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing claimed the most in expenses, spending almost half the overall figure on travel (£25,838.08).

Farthing’s travel expenses are in relation to University events on recruitment, alumni, potential donor opportunities and research and institutional partnerships.

Over the last two years he has visited Thailand, Malaysia and the USA in relation to recruitment, Korea for a research event, and China, the USA and Spain for alumni and donor events.

A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “As a leading university, we want to be able to maintain our high standards and continue to attract the best students and faculty from around the UK and internationally.

“That means that some academic and professional services staff, at many different levels, are required to travel in order to undertake business on behalf of the institution.

This work ranges from student recruitment, raising funds for the University and establishing important academic links with other institutions to keeping in touch with our alumni and progressing vital research projects.”

Sussex VCEG spent a total of £7,982.01 on accommodation, with Registrar and Secretary John Duffy spending £2,846 alone.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Stephen Shute, who was appointed in October 2014, spent approximately £677 across all expenses categories in just three months.

Pro Vice-Chancellor for research Michael Davies spent almost £450 on work related calls, while four of his colleagues spent nothing.

The only VCEG member to spend any money on training was Pro Vice-Chancellor Clare Mackie, who spent £80.

Less than three per cent of the total expenses were spent by Director of Human Resources Jane Summerville. Her expenses only covered her travel (£1,624) and a mere £14 on hospitality, totalling £1,638.

At the time of the Badger investigation, a UCU report was released on transparency within the higher echelons of higher education institutions. It revealed that LSE’s Director, Craig Calhoun, spent £59,812 on first or business class flights in the academic year 2013/14.

They sent FOIs to 155 universities asking for data on the expenses of senior vice-chancellors.

It exposed that the University of Sussex was one of seven institutions that did not disclose certain information due to the request exceeding the appropriate time limit, although this is disputed by the University.

The University of Brighton’s senior management group spent just £9,568 in the period it took for Sussex to spend the £60,000 figure.

The University spokesperson also said: “In particular, a key part of the role of senior managers is to maintain the array of our international relationships and to establish new links with universities, businesses and non-governmental organisations around the world.

“Inevitably this involves a significant amount of international travel.

“This work benefits our students in so many ways and ensures that we continue to provide high-quality teaching and research for our students.”

Jack Williams  and Jessica Pitocchi

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