THE Department for Education has expressed its ‘deep concerns’ over the expenses revelations of Highbury College principal, Stella Mbubaegbu.
As reported by The News, Ms Mbubaegbu racked up £150,000 on a college credit card including splashing out on stays at high-end London hotels, first-class flights around the world and £356 at an upmarket restaurant.
Education Minister, Lord Agnew said: ‘The Secretary of State and I are deeply concerned by these revelations. I have already asked the Further Education Commissioner to urgently look into this matter.’
After a lavish spending spree, including a £45 lobster and nearly £100 on cocktails at a Michelin-starred restaurant and £434 on a pair of headphones, Lord Agnew has warned about the spending of taxpayers’ money.
Lord Agnew added: ‘School and college leaders must treat taxpayers’ money with the utmost care and in a way that benefits their students. Where this does not happen we take the strongest possible action.’
The Department for Education revealed that the college has already had a change of governorship, with restrictions placed on the spending of the principle, and that the FE Commissioner was ‘due to visit the college shortly to find out what’s going on’.
Minutes published from a meeting in May suggest measures have now been taken with a restriction on international and first class travel, as well as banning lunch and alcoholic drinks claims.
The minutes stated: ‘In the light of budgetary constraints, all foreign travel must now be authorised by the chair or vice-chair; all travel to be 2nd class unless authorised by the chair or vice-chair; and no lunch claims or alcohol claims can be made.'
A £2,000 limit has also been placed on the principal’s corporate card.
Highbury College originally tried to block the revelations after refusing a Freedom of Information request made by magazine FE Week. This decision was investigated by the information commissioner and eventually overturned.
Lord Agnew commented: ‘The attempt to block the disclosure, in this instance, was shocking and was rightly overturned by the information commissioner.’