University officials are spending thousands of pounds on five-star and four-star luxury hotels – one described as treating you “like royalty from the moment you walk in”.
A York Vision investigation has found dozens of purchases being made for luxury living arrangements in countries such as Nigeria, the United States and China.
In total last year, our Freedom of Information findings have uncovered more than £1 million being spent across 20,000 transactions on the university’s credit card system, which is separate from formal expenses.
These included claims for four-star and five-star luxury hotels and luxury chauffeur services.
One hotel claimed for included more than £800 for a two night stay at the Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja – ranked one of the best in the Nigerian capital.
A second Nigerian hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos, stayed in by some of the country’s top celebrities and politicians, involved a charge of £749 for three nights accommodation.
A third hotel, the Regency Hotel in Kuwait, charged £849 for a four night stay.
The Data Protection Act prevents this newspaper from uncovering the identities of the individuals nor can we know certain specifics but our investigation has also found thousands of pounds being spent at other plush destinations around the world.
At the five-star Oberoi Hotel in Bengaluru, which provides each guest with their own private balcony overlooking three acres of land, an official claimed for more than £1,050 on the university’s credit card.
And at the Kempinski Hotel in Beijing, which offers limousine and butler services, more than £1,100 was asked in a transaction.
On the website TripAdvisor, which asks guests to review the hotels stayed in, user KhalilE25 wrote of the Regency Hotel in Kuwait: “I visited the property for 3 nights at the end of March and from the moment I walked in I was treated like Royalty!
“The rooms are lavish, the food and service are of top class.
“I have stayed at some of the top properties worldwide and I would not hesitate to recommend the Regency Kuwait to everyone. I also had 2 spa treatments and they were excellent.”
To apply for a university credit card, otherwise known as a Government Procurement Card (GPC), members of staff have to complete two forms – the ‘Cardholder Application’ form and the ‘Request for the Issue of a Purchase Card’.
York Vision understands that the ‘Request for the Issue of a Purchase Card’ form has to be signed off by the applicant’s Head of Department to say they authorise the person to have a card.
When the card is used to purchase goods and services, all transactions have to be checked and authorised by the cardholder’s nominated budget approver.
Other claims uncovered by York Vision include more than £650 being spent on a YouTube video captioning service, £300 on limousine services, £926 on purchases to the Leeds United football club ticket office and over £200 on biscuits for the CPD suite in the Ron Cooke Hub.
Students last night slammed officials for their spending.
Lauren Malcharek, a first year politics and international relations student, said: “I think it’s ridiculous that as students we have no other choice than to get ourselves into over £27,000 worth of debt at the end of university but staff are allowed that amount of money to spend on something that isn’t exactly essential, when they could be working on trying to make students expenditure less by reducing the price of accommodation.”
Jack Spring, a first year TV and production student, joked: “I hope they nabbed the free soap and toothpaste”.
Sam Maguire, the YUSU President, said: “This is an absolute joke, how can the University cry that they are poor and have no money for things when money is wasted on unjustifiable luxuries.
“We will be writing to the heads of department to express our anger at this, Premier Inn has a good nights sleep guarantee, if it is good enough for Lenny Henry it should be good enough for everyone here.”
A university spokesman said they could not fully comment without assessing each individual claim, but they did add: “GPC cards are one of our preferred methods of purchasing because they reduce transaction costs.
“All expenses charged to the University have to be approved by line managers.
“However, many items charged to GPC cards are re-charged to external sponsors (for example, research funders).
“In these instances, expenditure would have to be in line with the funders’ rules.”