University spends £11m on staff credit cards

Cards at other universities were used at strip clubs and for a trip to Las Vegas

Oxford University spent £11 million on staff credit cards in 2017/18, Freedom of Information (FOI) data has revealed.

The University has declined to give a breakdown of the transactions. The findings make up part of an investigation by The Sun into the £204 million total charged to credit cards at universities nationwide.

Employees at other universities used the cards to pay for trips to strips clubs and items from sex shops.

Oxford University accounts for 5.4% of credit card spending by universities in the UK. The University of Nottingham spent the most, with a total bill of £19.8m. The 54 institutions which replied to the FOI request received £1.2bn of public funding in 2017/18.

Unlike universities including Durham and Liverpool, Oxford refused to give a breakdown as it insists this would have taken over 18 hours. This is the maximum amount of time a public authority is required to spend on a single Freedom of Information request.

A University of Oxford spokesperson told Cherwell  that “the breakdown would have meant checking more than 12,000 individual records.”

They added that “no instances of improper use of credit cards was found in this period. All expenditure is [a] key business essential to running an outstanding global university.”

The University also noted that it “does undertake random spot checks on a monthly basis to check the validity of purchases”, and that no one had been reprimanded for improper spending since January 2012.

Among the universities to give a breakdown, Northumbria University spent £2,184 at Spearmint Rhino, a lap-dancing club, while a £2,614 trip Las Vegas was charged to Durham University credit cards.

The investigation also found that staff at City University in London spent £23,790 at just two pubs, while Liverpool University cards have been billed £22,000 for Domino’s Pizza.

Oxford SU had “no response” to the findings, but noted that it would “like to take this opportunity to remind students that if they have any concerns relating to the university,” staff were “ready to listen”.

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