University Of Bedfordshire Fire
STAFF at the University of Bedfordshire claim they have been left ‘disheartened’ by budget cuts while their boss has spent thousands jetting around the world with his lover.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said that Vice-Chancellor Bill Rammell’s ‘lavish spending’ was ‘insensitive and inappropriate’ and would ‘rightly anger’ staff.
Ex- Labour Minister Mr Rammell, 55, and the uni’s Executive Dean Professor Helen Bailey, 47, flew business class at least eight times in the last 12 months to exotic spots like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Beijing and Miami.
Although BoS can report the cost of the air fares amounted to more than £30k, the university has declined to release details of the pair’s accommodation and food bills.
Meanwhile a Freedom of Information request submitted by this newspaper has revealed that other members of staff are expected to use the cheaper economy class when they fly, unless they have the permission of the Vice-Chancellor as stated in the university’s travel expenses policy.
Staff also claim that while the Vice-Chancellor is spending thousands on travelling across the world with Ms Bailey, there is no money in the pot to employ research assistants in their departments or to attend conferences in Britain.
Ms Hunt added: “Vice-Chancellors need to be extremely mindful of the costs they incur to the university in the course of their work.”
Posting on a social media website, one senior lecturer said: “There have been budget cuts across all departments and we’ve been told there is very limited cash for recruitment and conferences.”
Another psychology lecturer added: “We can’t disseminate our research as there is no money for conferences. I feel very much disheartened.”
A spokeswoman for the university said: “The university is in the upper quartile of UK universities for the strength of its financial performance. This has been due to prudent financial management. Responsibility for managing budgets is devolved to faculties and departments, as they are best placed to decide spending priorities and choices, including in areas such as attending conferences and hiring research assistants.
“All overseas travel by the Vice Chancellor and university staff is for legitimate University business purposes. Annually, the university derives between £25 million and £35 million of its income from international students and its partnerships with international institutions. Overseas travel is necessary to maintain and drive this very important business for the university, which is reinvested for our students.
“Travelling business class enables the Vice Chancellor, and university staff accompanying him, to work in flight and immediately on arrival, ensuring that visits overseas are short, intensive and focused entirely on university business. “When travelling overseas, the Vice Chancellor is normally accompanied by a number of senior colleagues, depending on the objectives of the visit – for example those with strategic responsibility for external relations, international student recruitment or international academic partnerships. The Executive Dean for Academic Partnerships, Professor Helen Bailey, is the strategic lead for the university’s work in building and maintaining partnerships with other universities and colleges locally, nationally and internationally, and with other stakeholder bodies.
“In addition to the Vice Chancellor, over the last couple of years around 20 staff have made business class visits overseas. All visits have been in accordance with the university’s travel policy.”
Father-of-two Mr Rammell, former MP for Harlow, Essex, admitted his affair with Professor Bailey, just weeks after promoting her from a £60,000-a-year job as head of performing arts and English to become the £100,000-a-year acting Executive Dean of Partnerships.
By then they had already made one trip to Sri Lanka and Singapore along with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ashraf Jawaid. Business trip airfares for the three of them totaled £11,749, but the university has refused to say how much they spent on accommodation.
In October, on the very day that news of their romance was revealed by a national newspaper (Oct 18, 2013), married Mr Rammell and Professor Bailey, who has a young son, flew off to Beijing, again accompanied by Prof Jawaid. This time the trio’s air fares cost £9,524.
Then in April they spent another £9,959 flying to Miami with director of transnational education Alan Murphy, before making a second trip to Beijing in June with university policy advisor Dewi Knight.