Luxury flights and UCD

 

Sir, – Your news article on the amount publicly funded universities spent on business class flights over the last year was shocking (“Publicly funded universities spent about ¤1.5 million on luxury flights”, News, September 16th).

As Ireland’s global university, it is not a surprise that UCD staff travel regularly. However, these expenses should be kept to a minimum, and there is no need for business and premium flights to be booked when more affordable options could have been explored.

In a university with the most expensive on-campus accommodation in the country, and where a third of the student population are international students, many of whom pay full fees to study with us, it is disappointing to see the university spending outrageous figures to travel in luxury, when the costs could easily have been kept down. Especially when this money could have been invested to service the needs of students.

This is not the first time that we have seen our university spending money on luxury ahead of students’ basic needs, such as on desperately needed mental health supports.

Some €14 million was spent last year on building the University Club, aimed at alumni of the university.

Meanwhile, our health service and library have not seen significant investment in over a decade, despite rising numbers of students. – Yours, etc,

JOANNA SIEWIERSKA

President,

UCD Students’ Union,

Belfield,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – I teach at UCD and as part of my job I travel, more than I would like, to conferences and research meetings. Most of these travel costs are covered by research grants, not by the university.

The article on spending on luxury flights by publicly funded universities is one-sided, as it gives the reader the impression that UCD staff travel in this way as a matter of routine.

I do not know who is travelling first-class at UCD, although it is certainly not me. The average employee, such as myself, is mandated to obtain the cheapest airfare possible and have set limits for expenditures on hotels and food based on the country they are travelling to, and are not allowed to exceed these limits.

While I am equally concerned about the level of luxury flights being taken by UCD employees, I would caution the public to understand that these type of flights are not commonplace among most of the academic staff. – Yours, etc,

Dr ELIZABETH SHOTTON,

Associate Professor,

School of Architecture,

Planning

and Environmental Policy,

UCD.