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Plymouth University Under Fire For Spending £150,000 On 7 Designer Chairs

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http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/plymouth-university-under-fire-for-spending-150000-on-7-designer-chairs-9744841.html

A scandal-hit university which has already seen its vice chancellor suspended and its chairman of governors stand aside as part of a bitter boardroom feud, has spent £150,000 on seven designer chairs.

Plymouth University has commissioned the award-winning furniture designer John Makepeace to make seven handcrafted chairs to be used at graduation ceremonies.

The news follows revelations earlier this month that the university had spent more than £24,000 on sending six members of staff to a conference in Miami earlier this year.

This was despite threatened job losses which have prompted a series of protests by lecturers at the Plymouth University campus this summer.

The problems at the Devon university, which boasts alumni including the world's youngest single-handed cross-Atlantic sailor Seb Clover and BBC wildlife presenter Monty Halls, became public in July this year when it was revealed that its vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell had been suspended from her £288,000-a-year post pending a review into her conduct. The university has not revealed the reason for her suspension but it has been suggested it is connected to a “serious clash of personalities”.

Professor Purcell is a graduate of Plymouth University who graduated in biological sciences in 1985. She took over as vice-chancellor in 2008.

In August the university’s chairman of governors William Taylor was accused of sexual harassment. He denied the accusations but said he would “stand aside” until a university investigation into his conduct was concluded.

Today the university stood by its decision to spend £150,000 on seven chairs.

Professor David Coslett, the deputy vice chancellor, said the university hoped to pay for the chairs through "private donations and charitable foundations".

Professor Coslett said the university’s annual graduation week attracted more than 25,000 students and guests and injected about £700,000 into the city's economy.

"The planned commissioning of new graduation furniture is the next stage in the development of our graduation ceremonies," he said.

“Ultimately, this is not about 'chairs' but a collection of contemporary design pieces by one of the world's leading furniture designers. Even before launching the project publicly, the works have attracted the attention of one major museum which is interested in adding to its contemporary design collection.”

Good to see that those with power understand what austerity means....

Apart from the chairs being pure gold I'm not certain what work could be done on them to be worth £21.5k each!

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Are these sort of people living on another planet? All you can do is laugh as they try and justify it. I mean, how far removed from normality does one have to be to think these purchases were a good idea?

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Are these sort of people living on another planet? All you can do is laugh as they try and justify it. I mean, how far removed from normality does one have to be to think these purchases were a good idea?

Apparently vice chancellor level.

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Order, order! In order to have a committee structure, you must address the chair!

By their Wilsonsesque mathematical model, the more they invest into the graduation ceremony, the more return they get. £700K to be precise.

This isn't just about the university, this is about Plymouth being better together. I say this to the naysayers, invest £1,000,000 next year into 7 chairs and invest more into the chairmans salaries, and the returns shall be even greater!

Hurrah! (Cheers and applause from the benches)

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The Vice-Chancellor is on £288K a year.

Who on earth sets these salaries?

I could possibly understand a 100k or so, but 288k, no way.

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I could possibly understand a 100k or so, but 288k, no way.

its trickle down.

They take the pee, it trickles on you.

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Order, order! In order to have a committee structure, you must address the chair!

By their Wilsonsesque mathematical model, the more they invest into the graduation ceremony, the more return they get. £700K to be precise.

This isn't just about the university, this is about Plymouth being better together. I say this to the naysayers, invest £1,000,000 next year into 7 chairs and invest more into the chairmans salaries, and the returns shall be even greater!

Hurrah! (Cheers and applause from the benches)

It's a joke. As if anyone at the ceremonies is going to give a stuff about the chairs, or not come and spend their £700K because the chairs were not up to designer scratch. All people are interested in at graduation ceremonies is seeing their own child/friend/relative going up in cap and gown to receive their rolled up bit of paper. I have recently been to a fourth - niece's in California, which was no different* from my own kids' do's.

Just another case of gross public sector waste - 'It's not our money so who cares?'

*except that they played Pomp and Circumstance No. 1 aka Land of Hope and Glory as the graduates filed in! Which did tickle me, I must admit.

Edited by Mrs Bear

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Chairs or lecturers? Which is more important to a university?

The John Makepeace chairs, obviously.

http://www.johnmakepeacefurniture.com/john-makepeace-furniture-designer-maker-chairs.html

Queens VC must have got a dud deal, wage £249,000, 3 storey house in Malone, couple of cars and whatever other extras are not recorded.

Edited by little fish

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Huge amounts of waste going on.....we all end up having to pay for it, very few end up gaining from it. ;)

Uk system of HE is the most efficient in the world on numerous measures.

You don't pay for it. That's the point of it now being in the private sector.

Tired cliche.

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Uk system of HE is the most efficient in the world on numerous measures.

You don't pay for it. That's the point of it now being in the private sector.

Tired cliche.

I beg your pardon sir:

2012/13 was the first year of the new funding regime, which
sees a more market-based system in which the funding for
undergraduate teaching will primarily follow the student
via higher tuition fees, which most students are likely to
finance through publicly provided, income-contingent
loans. In addition, the Government is reducing direct public
funding to institutions, remaining funding being targeted
on high cost subjects or specific policy areas such as
widening participation. This new HE environment is creating
major uncertainties and therefore explicit consideration of
sustainability is essential.

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Uk system of HE is the most efficient in the world on numerous measures.

You don't pay for it. That's the point of it now being in the private sector.

Tired cliche.

How easy it is to spend someone else's money....bottomless pit.

Would these people do the same if it were their own business/own household?....if it came out of their own pockets? ;)

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It does come out of the Uni's pockets. Whether you like it or not. Capital expenditure and non-research non-teaching spending comes out of the income of the corporate university, which is nothing to do with any public money.

Well I will not be sitting on their seats, simply because they do not know the value of money, so not a place I would wish to learn from. ;)

Edited by winkie

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It does come out of the Uni's pockets. Whether you like it or not. Capital expenditure and non-research non-teaching spending comes out of the income of the corporate university, which is nothing to do with any public money.

it does...sort of laundered public sector spending...plus grants, which are being reduced, as stated in the Plymouth University own document, which I quoted from, not gone.

Student loans are funded and collected from the students themselves...and from the taxpayer for shortages.

Then there are the pensions which the University partakes in...still final salary benefits scheme, funded shortfalls coming from the public purse.

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PublicExpenditureHEpercentGDP2009.png

including all the Off balance sheet stuff I presume?...nah, thought not.

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snip. still final salary benefits scheme, funded shortfalls coming from the public purse.

Neither of these statements is really correct.

The final salary scheme is gone for new entrants.

There are no plans for the scheme to be bailed out by the public purse.

Eventually, fees will rise significantly and employees will take a pay cut to plug the deficit.

Which is what has been happening for the last few years anyway.

I am not saying any of this stuff is right. It is just too much of an inaccurate cliche to say that HE is full of waste and mispending.

These are all private corporations now with minimal public funding.

You may as well complain that the MD of a large corporation is paid too much (which I would agree with). What's the difference?

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including all the Off balance sheet stuff I presume?...nah, thought not.

like what??

As I said, the pensions are not a public liability, unlike LAs.

The fees of course were a fudge but again, I can't see a bail out for unis for lost fees in a few years. too politically unpalatable. Unlike the banks :rolleyes:

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Neither of these statements is really correct.

The final salary scheme is gone for new entrants.

There are no plans for the scheme to be bailed out by the public purse.

Eventually, fees will rise significantly and employees will take a pay cut to plug the deficit.

Which is what has been happening for the last few years anyway.

I am not saying any of this stuff is right. It is just too much of an inaccurate cliche to say that HE is full of waste and mispending.

These are all private corporations now with minimal public funding.

You may as well complain that the MD of a large corporation is paid too much (which I would agree with). What's the difference?

"The University [of Plymouth] is a charity under the terms of the Charities Act 2006. Its charitable activities are monitored by HEFCE, which is its principal regulator. The Governors of the University are its charitable trustees. The manner in which the University delivers its charitable purpose within the context of the Charity Commissions guidance on public benefit is outlined in the financial statements for 2010 and subsequent years." http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/pages/view.asp?page=34747

So what does this mean?

"Mismanagement and abuse in charities are unacceptable. An important part of the Charity Commission’s role as regulator is to prevent, detect and tackle abuse and mismanagement in charities and to promote compliance with charity law.

When the commission gets involved in a charity whose trustees are not complying with charity law, its priority is to safeguard charity assets and take strong remedial action where necessary to stop the problems and get the charity’s management right."

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tackling-abuse-and-mismanagement-in-charities

Edited by Ah-so

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