A university boss has been criticised for being “out- of-touch” for enjoying the high-life while his staff strike over below-inflation pay rises.
University of Sussex vice- chancellor Michael Farthing is one of a number of executives revealed to have received hospitality during a turbulent year for the university, which has seen student protests over outsourcing of jobs and a series of strikes by teaching staff.
The university’s hospitality register also revealed that fellow director Ian Carter was treated to 13 dinners, award ceremonies and hotel stays in a year by a number of research and publishing firms.
The hospitality directory was made available following a Freedom of Information request.
Mr Farthing, who earns £280,000 a year, and his wife were treated to two tickets and supper at Glyndebourne for a production of Billy Budd in August worth an estimated £450.
The vice-chancellor’s office also received a £50 Marks and Spencer voucher from Streamline Taxis.
The register also revealed that Colleen McLaughlin from the university’s school of education and social work was gifted a £250 tablet by software giant Microsoft only to then give the high-end product away to someone outside the university claiming she did not need it.
Jerry Sinclair from IT services was treated to a visit to Twickenham to see England play New Zealand in November by IT firm Wherescape who supply the university with software.
IT firms Extron, Dell and Intel also treated IT staff with food, hotel stays and cocktails.
University of Sussex student Gabriel Webber who submitted the Freedom of Information request said: “Michael Farthing has not got the highest amount of hospitality but it does reflect a sense of him living in an ivory tower, out-of-touch with his staff.
“Why does a man who earns 20 times more than other staff at Sussex need somebody else to buy his tickets to the opera for him?”
A University of Sussex spokeswoman said: “The list provided reflects the appropriate engagement of our staff with external organisations in the course of their professional activities.
“All the listed instances of acceptance of hospitality were authorised and gave rise to no conflict of interest or inappropriate relationships.
“All university contracts are procured according to strict rules, including the requirement that no one concerned with tendering may accept any form of hospitality during the tendering process. “None of these activities relate to decisions made by the university in relation to contracts awarded.”