A clean account

July 28, 2000

I was surprised to read that the head of Surrey University's management school was "in Mauritius with his wife on a trip paid for by the universityI carrying out several important duties. His wife's expenses were borne by the university in line with its policy, because she performed an ambassadorial role" (Whistleblowers, THES, July 21).

Taxpayers are entitled to answers to the following: 1. What is the name and office of the person who made the latter statement to The THES?

2. On whose authority did the person make the statement?

3. What committee or senior person decided on the policy of paying the expenses of partners of members of staff to perform "ambassadorial duties"?

4. In what university document is the decision recorded?

5. Does the policy apply only to heads of departments, or also to vice-chancellors, secretaries, deans, academic staff, technicians, administrative, clerical and manual staff?

6. Who audits the expense accounts of heads of departments and other senior staff?

7. For how many partners of University of Surrey staff have such expenses been paid in recent years, and how much has it cost the university?

8. Have the payments of these expenses and the persons for whom they have been paid, been recorded in departmental and university accounts?

9. Do the internal and external auditors of the university know about these payments and have they ever commented about them?

10. How widespread is this practice in other universities and colleges?

11. Does the funding council know about it?

12. Does it approve it?

13. What does the government think about it?

David Alexander


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