Yorkshire university defends 'jet set lifestyle' of its vice chancellor who spent £49,000 on hotels and flights

Keith Burnett, who earns over 400,000 a year at the University of Sheffield
Keith Burnett, who earns over 400,000 a year at the University of Sheffield
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A Yorkshire university has defended its vice chancellor’s jetset lifestyle after a new report revealed he had spent almost £50,000 on business class flights and hotels.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice chancellor at The University of Sheffield, racked up a total bill of £24,598 on flights in the last academic year and £24,433 on hotels - the highest in the country.

The outside of the University of Sheffield building

The outside of the University of Sheffield building

It also emerged that he was the UK’s tenth best paid university head, with a salary of £422,706.

However, a spokesperson for Sheffield University, which has an annual turnover of around £660m, argued that the wage reflected the importance attached to having a leader who was “highly respected both in the UK and internationally”.

And the large amount of money spent on flights and hotels was due to the vice chancellor’s efforts to form partnerships overseas, including India and China.

The spokesperson said: “As leader of a global university with a strong focus on international partnerships, the University of Sheffield president and vice chancellor personally leads the university’s work on international partnerships and development overseas. This involved securing new university relationships in Nanjing and Shanghai, including a new teaching collaboration in science, and a ground-breaking manufacturing partnership with the Chinese space programme. The vice chancellor visited India with a focus on science and innovation, including with the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.

“Within the UK, the vice chancellor serves as a senior adviser to a number of educational and science-based bodies, including the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, the Royal Society and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.”

Earlier today The Yorkshire Post reported that university bosses had taken home salary packages worth more than a quarter of a million pounds on average last year. It follows the publication of a damning report by the University College Union (UCU), which has raised concerns about “huge disparities” in pay and called on the Government to step in and enforce proper scrutiny of senior university leaders’ salaries.