UCL is not distrusting, just doing its duty

May 19, 2016

We do not accept the claim in the article “UCL expenses rules mean staff seen as ‘inherently untrustworthy’” (News, 12 May) that the expenses policy at University College London indicates that staff are viewed as “inherently untrustworthy”. The policy simply reflects the reality that we are a publicly accountable organisation, with a duty to ensure that expenses expenditure is appropriate and modest. We would (rightly) expect to be held to account, by, among others, Times Higher Education, if this were not the case. Nor is there any evidence to substantiate the claim that we are “enforcing a tougher expense regime” to fund our expansion in East London.

To provide the context, we began a review of our expenses policy after an internal audit found that we could improve levels of compliance across UCL. The review found that our policy was largely aligned with those in place at comparable institutions, as well as in bodies ranging from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to the NHS – no surprise, given that we operate within the same tax laws and HMRC guidelines.

We decided at that point to recirculate to staff the policy, in effect unchanged, and to seek greater compliance with it. I accept that this process could have been better handled – the policy had historically included some anachronistic and trivial rules, which the recirculation of the policy drew attention to, including those on refreshments for meetings that figured prominently in your story.

I believe that the revised policy – signed off last week – addresses these concerns.

With regard to discretionary funds, our existing guidance on their use has not changed, but the expenses policy applies to all money spent by staff, including money held in such accounts. Again, this is standard practice for any organisation entrusted with public or charitable funds and ensures that we meet HMRC requirements, as all universities and public sector organisations are required to do.

Rex Knight
Vice-provost, operations
University College London


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate