University staff treated to premium iPads and iPhones

Photo credit: KOMINYETSKA

Photo credit: KOMINYETSKA

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.


  1. what a fucking disgrace

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  2. So now I know where my student loan and accommodation fees go…

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  3. I like how there’s an advert for Apple products by the side of this article. “Buy a Mac for university and save with Apple on campus pricing”. Evidently not, they’re bloody extortionate.

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  4. You guys must be desperate for a story.

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  5. ‘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.’

    Absolute rubbish. These are meant to be intelligent people that can see through Apple’s incredible marketing and branding…

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  6. 20 Jun ’12 at 2:06 pm

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Scandal after scandal at the University of York.

    It makes me wonder:
    Who will guard the guards themselves?
    Who watches the watchmen?
    Who will watch the watch-guards?

    But who will guard the guardians?

    Despicable conduct from University staff. It is very likely that this is only the tip of the ice-burg. I wonder if the University employees buy their stationary and paper from Harrods. Enlighten me Nouse, enlighten me.

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  7. 20 Jun ’12 at 3:49 pm

    Tech Enthusiast

    Start by putting things in perspective IT . google search the stats and spend in education per employee was around $5000 per employee in 2010/11 its far greater in other industries. >>

    … a lot of people clearly don’t understand the cost of IT provision to ensure business continuity but here’s my 2 pence on this.

    OK so the issue here is that they are Apple devices (given the sole focus on Apple in this article) which have a reputation for being marketed as a luxury device. Fair play.

    With regards to iPad, yes there are cheaper alternatives out there especially with blackberry play books and android tablets coming in around £100 cheaper than a brand new iPad but the logic here is that iPads are far cheaper than laptops and when a uni talks about laptops, they mean proper machines that can run on enterprise grade security and systems and for some staff support complex software around £700 no your average PC world £400 weekend offer laptop. Increasingly an iPad suffices so in context of the wider technology needs, just bear in mind that in some instance iPad is actually a cost saving, may not seem that way but the uni employs some 4k staff who all need computers or laptops and in some rare cases both. If a computer and iPad suffices and saves £300 why not. That said 13 iPads maybe excessive unless it’s like department like CompSCI in which case i don’t think article clear on what they iPads were used for.

    On iPhones… well an iPhone comes on similar if not identical tariffs and contracts as an Android , blackberry or even Nokia so if the point here is spend on Apple then this article is only presenting a limited view.

    I think one thing missing from the above is a comparison to show how savings could be made on devices that do similar tasks. I agree, i think in organisations there is a knee jerk reaction to jump for apple devices when other brands that are cheaper can do the same, just think it could have been better highlighted.

    For perspective £15,000 on iPhones including their tariffs (25 a month) will get you 25 iPhones (not that many). There are just over 2k apple mobile devices on campus owned by students and staff, proof that maybe it’s not an unreasonable choice of device. Also please share the deals on iPad like devices for £150, sounds too good to be true.

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  8. 20 Jun ’12 at 8:55 pm

    Pink Nail Varnish.

    @Tech Enthusiast

    Yes, but could we have a bit more transparency. We (students), the shareholders of the University would like to read the company accounts. I want to see how every bit of (my) money is being spent.

    Why does this info have to ’emerge’ as if from a black hole? Why can’t the University (senior management) etc publish this information beforehand. This spending is arbitrary.

    Student shareholders are still the part owners of the University and if the business is able to turn a profit, then common shareholders gain. If the University has extra money to spend on shiny new apple mac products, they ought to also have money to spend on increasing student satisfaction, reducing/subsidizing accommodation costs and ensuring that the price of blueberry muffins is appropriate.

    Student shareholder rights include:

    1. voting power on major issues
    2. ownership in a portion of the University
    3. opportunity to inspect University books and records including all financials etc…

    The revolution will occur over the internet… the revolution will be internetalized.

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  9. Errrrr – Pink Nail Varnish – in what sense are students shareholders? Take a look at the University’s sources of funding – students (particularly undergrads) are a drop in the ocean…I’m not sure promoting a model of management based on financial contribution is such a wise idea…

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  10. 21 Jun ’12 at 12:26 pm

    They can afford to buy their own.

    Good article.

    Every tenured lecturer, even the most junior, earns about £35K+ a year.

    They should be paying for these items themselves.

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  11. @They can afford to buy their own:

    35K+ is not a lot, considering that lecturers have spent at least 6 years for their undergrad and phd, probably more for masters, research assistant positions etc.

    When there are fresh graduates making over 50K, I think it’s fair to say that lecturers deserve some slack. In the end, the uni provided them with tools that will enable them to do their work better – what’s all the fuss about?

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  12. You’re wrong.

    Lets look at the 2011 University of York Balance Sheet. Out of a total income of £255 million, £79 million comes directly from tuition fees. A further £66 million comes from government education funding, which is intended to subsidise the provision of teaching courses.

    So there is £144 million out of £255 which is solely provided because of/by students. A further £50 million comes from other sources (mainly from the commercial arm of the university, e.g. accommodation, campus catering etc) so students pay a huge chunk of that. The final £50 million comes from research grants/contracts, which is not directly related to students.

    I think its fair to say that without the existence of the students, the Unis income would be reduced by 2/3rds (ignoring the fact that a University without students wouldn’t attract too many academics and hence grants..) which makes the students the primary income source. In an institution without shares, this realistically equates to the students being shareholders by default. Obviously the management and employees are also shareholders, but the balance of power has been distorted by the management because they are permanent and hold all the information.

    Its quite a similar scenario to the power of the permanent civil service over the temporary elected government Ministers.

    Here is a link to the annual report for you. Page 23 has a consolidated income statement.

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  13. 21 Jun ’12 at 5:33 pm

    Pink Nail Varnish.


    You said “students (particularly undergrads) are a drop in the ocean”.

    Are you sure? Without students (particularly undergrads), there would be no University.

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  14. 22 Jun ’12 at 10:42 am

    Pink Nail Varnish.

    @ Grow Up

    “35K+ is not a lot, considering that lecturers have spent at least 6 years for their undergrad and phd, probably more for masters, research assistant positions etc”

    Many lecturers do not have PhDs, many simply have first degrees and teaching qualifications.

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  15. 22 Jun ’12 at 2:49 pm

    They can afford to buy their own.

    £35K+ is enough to be able to afford your own gadgets.

    Meanwhile, 800 non-academic Y.U. staff get less than the living wage.

    The i-pad money should be going towards areas of greater need.

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  16. I doubt that to be honest… do you have statistics for what percentage of faculty have phds? Usually, for universities like York, it’s between 85-95%.

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  17. 22 Jun ’12 at 6:41 pm

    Strawberry Frappe.

    York is déclassé.

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  18. 23 Jun ’12 at 2:04 am

    Tech Enthusiast gone hack


    nice math except u forgot one thing, the tuition fees are mostly paid for by the SLC for home students and therefore the tax payer. That’s why it’s called student loans company , they loan cash and pay tuition on ur behalf so technically at the point of use and until u pay back the loan, the tax payer owns ur share plus interest.

    @nail varnish person

    The argument u should be making should be about whether ur cash is being spent in the right place and how staff having iPads may or may not be improving ur experience, not ur ideals about balance of power.

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  19. 29 Jun ’12 at 1:02 am

    Oh come on...

    This article stinks of Apple bashing.

    The actual story here is “University spends £35K upgrading computer hardware”. But the writer appears to have deliberately put the negative Apple spin on it; presumably because it sounds juicier. Bottom line is, had the University spent 35 grand on a bunch of £500 Toshiba laptops, Nouse probably wouldn’t have bothered writing an article on it simply because nobody would have read it…

    I’m pretty certain the Uni did not purchase these products for the staff to play Angry Birds in their free time. It’s an extremely backward and out-dated view that tablets are merely “luxury toys”, and today many modern businesses seem to be rolling them out to employees in lieu of laptops. The tablet has several advantages over a laptop – portability, immediacy of use, and battery life to name but a few, and are still very capable to perform many of the tasks normally reserved for a computer. Clearly the staff receiving these devices had needs for them which a similarly-priced laptop would not have fulfilled as well.

    Now I’ll admit there are cheaper products from other manufacturers that could probably have been just as adequate; certainly some tablets these days sell for far less than iPads. I’m sure you can argue that the University could have bought the cheapest devices and spent only half the money, but there’s probably a reason they’re priced lower. While I don’t pretend to be an expert, nor an Apple “evangelist”, I know that the iPad is pretty highly regarded by experts. The BBC mentioned only the other day that it has almost a 2/3 market share; I seriously doubt this is wholly down to Apple’s marketing and big corporations treating their employees…

    I have to admit that the accessories do sound rather excessive though! To have paid more for a case than even Apple charge does sound rather criminal.

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  20. YUSU hitting out at the university, but i wonder how many of their own current and former staff have acquired iPhones through expenses…i certainly know of a few

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  21. As I recall, YUSU-purchased products are returned to YUSU at the end of the year and reissued. To call them “claimed on expenses” isn’t the case at all…

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  22. No YUSU staff or sabbs have been given iPhones and expenses. All YUSU sabbs receive blackberrys which they must return before the end of their last day in office. Don’t talk bollocks and spread lies.

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  23. 7 Jul ’12 at 2:32 pm

    @Oh Come On...

    Spot on Sir, absolutely SPOT ON!

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  24. I’m shocked. I’m a former student and the company I now work for give me a basic phone and a middle of the range laptop. It is perfectly sufficient for me to do my job well. My company is going from strength to strength because it doesn’t waste money.

    The University needs to wake up and realise that staff do not need an iphone to complete their job well, who does?

    I also think a laptop is much more useful at work than an ipad. An ipad is only really useful for surfing the web.

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