University College Dublin (UCD) has accumulated over €800,000 in hotel expenses in the past 4 years, according to financial records acquired by The College Tribune. Nearly 40% of this amount was associated with spending in luxury 5-star hotels – despite the university’s travel policy which directly advises staff against the booking of luxury accommodation.

According to university records recently obtained by The College Tribune, UCD spent €828,196 on hotel bills between November 2016 and March 2020. Financials obtained amount for invoices over €20,000, suggesting that the figure may be higher through unaccounted lower transactions.

The nature of this spending is unknown; however, two of the eleven locations listed are 5-star hotels that go against the UCD Travel Policy issued in 2013. The policy, which sets out the protocols and procedures to be followed by staff when traveling on university business, states that “staff should not stay in 5-star or luxury hotels and standard rooms rather than superior rooms should be booked.”

UCD splurged €321,242 on 5-star hotels, 37% of the total amount spent. The two luxury hotels in question are the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin and the Savoy Hotel in Limerick. For GDPR reasons, the Intercontinental Hotel refused to provide details of the university’s invoice. The College Tribune also contacted the Savoy for a comment but did not receive a response.

As a result, it is uncertain whether the university booked hotel rooms or conference rooms at these locations. Reserving spaces for business meetings or seminars does not directly challenge the travel policy. The policy has only been disobeyed if staff stay in unnecessarily extravagant places.

The College Tribune reached out to the UCD Bursar’s Office to ask whether the university defied its own policy surrounding luxury accommodation, but they were unable to comment at the time of publishing.

UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Ruairí Power, who has previously criticised the university’s prioritization of funds, told The College Tribune: “As students, it is very hard to understand how it is ‘not economically viable’ to hire more counselling staff when management clearly has access to funds for the procurement of 5-star accommodation and business class flights.”

He added, “UCD Management should be spending responsibly on flights and hotel costs and the savings should be going towards essential services for students and to create more stable work contracts for tutors.”

“We will be writing to President Prof. Andrew Deeks to ascertain whether the University’s travel policy has been breached, as the 5-star hotel spend may have been spent on conference spaces,” concluded Power.

An earlier version of this article contained a quote from Ruairí Power that was made without all of the information that was published in this article. In light of the new information that was published, Power has amended his comments, which has been published here.

Emma Hanrahan – Reporter