‘Lectures’ in Australia given by a top official funded by a controversial Welsh university were substantially identical and may have required little preparation, The Eye can reveal.
Talks on gender equality by Hilary Lappin-Scott, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Swansea university had titles which were almost exactly the same.
Yet the university admitted in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request it funded almost 90 per cent of the trip.
Officials told us they supplied £4,251.30 of nearly £5,000 in money for Professor Lappin-Scott’s visit to Hong Kong and Australia.
Close examination of her itinerary revealed that many of the lectures had virtually identical titles.
On February 15 at the ‘Swinburne University of Technology Royal Society Victoria, in Melbourne, she spoke on “Supporting women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) : how do we reach gender equality?”
Two days later at the Institute of Medical Research in the city, she lectured about: “Supporting women in STEM and Athena SWAN (organisation promoting gender equality in science) – a personal perspective”.
Two days after that at the University of Sydney Business School her itinerary stated that she “…will share her personal experiences and insights into Athena SWAN … at a free presentation …”
A week afterwards she was again in Sydney at the University of Technology, talking about “The role of Athena SWAN supporting women in STEM”.
Back in Melbourne she was lecturing about “Supporting women in STEM and Athena SWAN: a personal perspective”.
But even before revelations about her ‘lectures’, the trip had angered staff in her university as she had posted the travels on Twitter when a report was published showing that the pay of top academics in the UK had risen almost three times as fast as the salaries of ordinary lecturers over the previous five years.
Swansea university is not alone in paying senior executives top salaries.
It has emerged that university leaders across Britain were paid an average salary of £272,432 in 2014-15, up by three per cent on the previous year, with the University of Oxford’s then-Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton receiving the highest overall pay package of £462,000, according to the lecturers’ union the University and College Union (UCU).
Sir David Eastwood, who had run Birmingham university for seven years, collected £416,000 a year, as well as enjoying the standard perks that go with such a job, which was 20 times the average earnings of fellow Midlanders.
Executive pay had risen by 14 per cent on average over the five years from 2009-10.
University staff, though, were awarded a UK pay increase of just two per cent over the same period, taking the overall pay rises received during the previous five years to five per cent, according to the UCU’s report, ‘Transparency at the Top’, published on February 11 in the Times Higher Education (THE).
Meanwhile The Eye disclosed how Professor Lappin-Scott had appeared to celebrate her paid trip to the other side of the world when she said on Twitter: “Looking forward to this – a lot! Thanks to @SwanseaUni for sponsoring my travel too “.
But her own staff were deeply unimpressed.
They have now become angry at appointments to the university’s management school she oversees.
One told The Eye at the time of her journey abroad: “She seems to be delighting in telling us about it.
“We are all slaving away in rainy Swansea, while she tells us she is enjoying her trip to the other side of the world!”
Professor Lappin-Scott had posted Tweets showing how she was relishing the culture of Hong Kong, before she moved on to Australia to lecture about her expertise in ensuring gender equality.
Even before the Tweets, she had shown herself to be a controversial figure among her staff after sending out enthusiastic internal emails about the university’s ‘success’ in contentious rankings.
But Swansea is not keen on giving out certain information.
Last week The Eye showed how further details about questionable appointments at the university were refused under the FoI act because it said the request was ‘vexatious’.
It is clear other inquiries by us do cause real problems for senior management, as Professor Lappin-Scott’s trip prompted huge unrest among her own academic staff.
One told The Eye: “It was difficult to see what the university was getting out of this trip
“But there again the weather in Australia would have been better than in Swansea.”
Evidently then, revealing on Twitter trips to Hong Kong and Australia is not ‘vexatious’, even if the trips lead to lectures with titles which are almost identical.
Next week on The Eye more vexatious revelations about Swansea university.
Tomorrow – why media outlet has provoked a social media storm with article about Welsh athletes and the Olympics.