University of the West of England condemns Dispatches programme

Issue date: 27 February 2018

The University of the West of England's Board of Governors and senior team have condemned last night's (Monday 26th February 2018) Dispatches programme, 'Britain's University Spending Scandal', describing it as inaccurate and misleading.

Sonia Mills, Chair of the Board of Governors, said: “UWE Bristol provided full and transparent details of all senior management team business costs in response to a Freedom of Information request from Dispatches. We were not given any opportunity to explain these figures or challenge any of the accusations being made by Dispatches until after they had made their programme and interviewed our students. Despite our requests, our comments and corrections were not accurately reflected in the programme.

“We are absolutely appalled that this misinterpretation of the facts was presented to our students and other interviewees in order to manipulate them into giving certain answers that would ensure the programme could tell the story Dispatches wanted to tell.”

Gillian Camm, Pro Chancellor for UWE Bristol, said: “We are incredibly mindful of the challenges for university students right now, with the pressure of finances, trying to find a job when they graduate and all of the uncertainties they face. Our job at UWE Bristol is to ensure we provide the best environment for them to thrive and flourish. We see building local, national and international partnerships and the opportunities and experiences that these create as an essential part of this.

“Professor West and his team have created an institution that makes a significant contribution to the regional economy and supports local jobs, provides fantastic opportunities for an increasingly diverse student population, and makes an impact around the world with the work that it does.”

The University had made clear to the Dispatches team before the programme aired a number of facts and corrections to their accusations, including the following:

The University takes a wholly open and transparent approach to its finances. All of the University's senior team's expense costs are publicly available on the UWE Bristol website and have been so since 2012 as have full details of the Vice Chancellor's remuneration.

• No UK student fees are used for any part of the costs of travelling and living internationally.

• No member of staff at the University has an expense account.

• Professor West will normally use his own car or public transport. He has used a private hire taxi company on occasions where he has a full schedule of national and international meetings and events and has had to travel outside the hours where normal public transport is available.

• The Vice-Chancellor's salary is decided by a Remuneration Committee. Professor West is not a member of the Committee and plays no part in this decision.

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