Oxford vice chancellor Louise Richardson has claimed nearly £70,000 on expenses since her appointment in 2016, Cherwell can exclusively reveal.
The figures, obtained by a freedom of information request, show that the University spent £30,818 on Richardson’s travel, accommodation, and hospitality in the seven months since taking the job. Since then, a further £38,339 has been claimed in total expenses.
The vast majority of costs were claimed for air travel, with £56,522 being spent on 26 round trips throughout the period, giving each round trip an average price of £2,173.
In 2016/17, £29,969 were spent on Richardson’s air travel. This is nearly four times higher than the average of £7,762 claimed by university VCs on air travel in 2015/16.
£1,911 was spent on non-air travel, such as train and taxi fares. A University spokesperson said Richardson takes economy class flights for short-haul journeys, and travels in business class on longer trips. These longer journeys could include long-haul flights to the US and the Middle East.
Richardson has previously stated that she has “a transatlantic marriage” with her husband, Dr Thomas Jevon, who works in the US. A request for a list of specific flight details was denied by Oxford officials, despite similar FOI requests being approved by other universities.
The University spent nearly £10,000 on Richardson’s accommodation during the period covered by the request.
A request for the names and individual rates of hotels that the vice chancellor stayed in was refused by the University.
This differs from the information release policies of other UK universities. A previous request to the vice chancellors of Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities led to a full breakdown of expenses, including receipts for the purchase of a slice of cake and a bottle of water.
The limited release follows criticism at Oxford for initially refusing to respond to David Lammy’s FOI request into the breakdown of Oxford’s offer holders, prompting to him accuse them of being “evasive” and “defensive”.
President of Oxford SU, Kate Cole, told Cherwell: “Without seeing all of the details, this seems like a high level of spend.
“In a time of increasing pressures on budgets of student services we would want to see as much money as possible being spent on developing the student experience and improving the quality of education.”
The FOI data follows a number of recent controversies involving the pay and expenses of Louise Richardson.
In August, the New College bursar attacked the “grossly excessive” pay of the VC, which totals £350,000 per annum.
When her pension is added in, the total figure is £410,000 per year, making her the third highest-paid vice chancellor in the UK.
Richardson has attacked “tawdry politicians” for their criticism of her pay figures.
The new data show Richardson’s expenses costs are slightly lower than the year 2014-2015 when £44,239 was invoiced for the expenses of her predecessor, Andrew Hamilton.
Over the four years since 2011 covered in the response, £152,695 was spent on Hamilton’s expenses. At the time Hamilton was also criticised for his high level of pay which totalled £462, 200 in 2014-15.
The figures show that the University has spent £221,852 on vice chancellor’s expenses alone since 2011.
This amount would pay for just under eight full three year undergraduate courses, costing £9,250 each, at the University.
It would also pay for just under 60 annual bursaries, costing £3,700 each, for students who have a family income of £16,000 or less.
An Oxford University spokesperson told Cherwell: “The vice chancellor’s expenses reflect her role at the head of a £1.4bn organisation with global responsibilities.
“She has regular commitments representing the University internationally, and all expenses are kept to a minimum – for example, the vice chancellor flies economy class on all trips within Europe and within the US.”