University of Sheffield paid private investigators £40,000 to look into student occupations

The university has justified its actions by claiming other institutions do the same

University of Sheffield has spent just under £40,000 on hiring a private investigation firm to look into students involved with occupations.

In just a five month period between the start of the academic year in September 2022 until 16th January 2023, the University of Sheffield has paid £39,615 to Intersol Global, according to a Freedom of Information request obtained by The Tab.

It was previously reported that the private investigation firm hired by the university had profiled two students for their alleged involvement in the occupation of one of the institutes buildings in late October last year to protest University of Sheffield’s link to the arms industry.

The two students received letters on 9th November last year that said an independent investigator had been hired due to the “serious nature” of the event and that “a report of alleged misconduct by you is the subject of an investigation in line with the university’s regulations relating to the discipline of students”.

Invoice dated 01/02/23

The remaining invoices obtained by The Sheffield Tab can be seen below.

The students were also allegedly told that they could be facing suspension or expulsion from their studies, fines of up to £750 and bills up to £1,000 for any property damage. However, the prospective fines the student face do not even come close to the amount the university has spent on investigating the students in the first place.

When approached by The Tab, the university attempted to justify this extreme measure by claiming that universities across the UK are hiring third party companies to carry out investigations.

The sum was paid to Intersol Global in eight separate instalments over this academic year so far, ranging from £2,000 to over £12,000. None of the nearly £40,000 spent by the university was used to look into staff, only students.

One of the students under investigation said the situation has left her feeling “suicidal”, whilst the other claimed they were not even in the country at the time the university is claiming they were involved in an occupation.

A spokesperson for the university said: “Intersol Global provides independent support for some cases – this includes investigations into student complaints as well disciplinary cases. Universities across the UK use third party companies for investigations as they offer a level of independence for all parties involved, as well as specialist regulatory knowledge.”

The invoices obtained from the University of Sheffield by The Tab: 

Invoice dated 19/08/22

Invoice dated 19/08/22

Invoice dated 18/10/22

Invoice dated 27/10/22

Invoice dated 28/11/22

Invoice dated 20/12/22

Invoice dated 14/03/23

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