It has emerged that the University has spent over £35,000 on providing staff with iPads and iPhones. The top of the range devices have been purchased by various departments for staff use along with a variety of accessories.
Data obtained by Nouse under a Freedom of Information Request shows that since the latter part of 2010, and throughout 2011 the University spent £25,113 on iPads, iPad 2s and accessories.
These accessories included docks, adapters, and top quality leather cases costing just under £50 each. However, an apple smart cover can be purchased for £29, and other good-quality covers can be found for around £15 online compared to the £49 the University has paid on several occasions.
YUSU has hit out at the University arguing that while staff need good equipment, the Apple products purchased are unnecessary.
Tim Ellis, YUSU President, stated: “I would definitely question the extent of some of the expenditure claims that University staff have been making on accessories to their work phones and whether high end iPads are always necessary as opposed to cheaper laptops.”
Despite the obvious concerns over the spending, a spokesperson for the University defended the money spent on iPads and iPhones.
“Expenditure on technologies such as this help us to make more efficient and effective use of staff time. Many members of staff need to be in contact at all times of the day during the week and over weekends, and mobile phones and iPads help them to do that.”
The greatest expenditure came from the Psychology Department which purchased 10 iPads and accessories for a cost of £5,111. Computer Science, Electronics, and IT Services all purchased six iPads each while Biology, Economics and Social Work and Policy bought four iPads each. Hull York Medical School purchased one iPad and the Chemistry Department bought two iPad accessories but no iPads.
There was also one order for 13 iPads, but the department that bought them cannot be traced. All of these purchases were for staff and not for student use.
Apple iPhones were purchased by 17 departments including the Vice-Chancellor’s. The Management School and the Research Innovation Office bought the most, purchasing three iPhones each.
Although there are many cheaper alternatives available, the University argued iPads had specific benefits that made them more suitable than laptops because they reduced the requirement of paper documents.
“iPads represent a competitive alternative to laptops and their use has also led to a reduction in the requirement for paper documents such as agendas and meeting reports.”
Ellis added that although he questions some of the money spent: “Any well run organisation needs to ensure that its employees are provided with the necessary resources to carry out their roles.”
However, the money spent on the gadgets by the University could be of concern to students at a time when spending is being increasingly scrutinised. With the cost of student living increasing and a new wave of students paying higher fees next year, there has been an increased emphasis on the “value for money” of university life.
The University spent £10,850 on iPhones, while tariffs and calls for these devices totalled £4,251. Some of the phones had a combined tariff and call cost as low as £22 indicating they were not used extensively. The prices paid for the iPads varied with some costing as much as £550 each. A normal tablet PC, with most of the features of an iPad can cost as little as £150 in some stores.
The figures only include devices purchased directly from Apple as information could not be obtained on any purchases from other suppliers. This means that the actual spending on premium Apple products may be higher. Any iPads or iPods claimed back on expenses are also not included in the figures.
Some departments purchased more of the devices than others, with ten departments in total purchasing iPads and related products. Several of the highest spending departments were contacted, but did not respond.