A University principal racked up nearly £15,000 in accommodation costs in the United States to help work on a New York campus that has no degree students.

Glasgow Caledonian’s Pamela Gillies stayed in luxury hotels in New York six times in one year, including an eight-day stretch, and even had her mini-bar bills paid for her.

The higher education institution also picked up the costs for her to visit Miami and Rio de Janeiro.

In October, it was revealed that Glasgow Caley had spent around £5.6m developing an offshoot campus in Manhattan.

However, it was reported that the New York authorities had yet to approve the University with a license to teach.

The project, launched in September 2013 and formally opened months later by former First Minister Alex Salmond, was described by Labour as a “very expensive white elephant”.

It had also emerged, from research carried out by the University and College Union (UCU), that Glasgow Caledonian had spent £27,271.13 on hotel accommodation in 2013/14 for its principal – the highest of any UK university.

The University resisted this newspaper’s request for a full breakdown, including invoices, but performed a u-turn after an appeal was made to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

According to the ledger of costs, Gillies stayed fourteen times in London in that financial year, but by far the biggest tranche of spending was in New York.

She stayed in the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Avenue, described as “a choice hangout for the hip, beautiful, and famous”, for three days in mid-September 2013 at a cost of $2,798.

This included “private bar” fees, a limousine service and laundry facilities.

Gillies then went back to the UK before returning to Gramercy Park in the same month for another four nights, which set the University back $2,914.

She re-appeared in New York in December, this time for eight nights, but stayed at The Mercer boutique hotel, a trip that cost $7,934 and included the University picking up the tab for half a bottle of Sancerre from the mini-bar.

She also had six nights in the same city in April 2014, which came to $4050, before heading to Miami for around a week later in the month.

It is understood she visited Florida to deliver an address on social innovation at the ‘Global Going’ conference hosted by the British Council.

The University’s budget also allowed Gillies to enjoy a four-night stay at the Sofitel Hotel in Rio, near the Copacabana, for the purpose of attending a conference.

The US costs came to over $20,000, which stands at nearly £16,300 in today's prices.

The total accommodation bill for 2013/14 also included subsistence and other approved business expenses.

Dr Nick McKerrell, Convenor of GCU Combined Union Committee, said: "Staff at GCU will be reading these figures in stunned silence. The unions were aware that our Principal had the highest hospitality bill of any Principal in the UK, but seeing it in black and white really brings it home.

"To charge the University around £15,000 to stay in uptown Manhattan hotels when our project there has a skeleton staff and no students is indefensible.

"Staff who have to go to our London campus to teach have tight limits on their expenses - including their accommodation. They simply would not be allowed to stay in a boutique hotel at £300 a night as seems to be the case here.

"In Higher Education, staff over the last few years have had to tighten their belts in the age of austerity - with rates of pay falling - but these expenses paid from University funds could literally come from another world. The gulf between rich and poor is deepening across the planet it is shocking that the same division exists in our Scottish workplace."

A University spokesperson said: “Glasgow Caledonian University is one of Scotland’s most cost-effective higher education institutions, returning over £13 to the Scottish economy for every £1 it receives in public funding and supporting 12,500 jobs in Scotland.

“It is extremely disappointing therefore that the Sunday Herald should seek to undermine the University's success and legitimate international ambitions. GCU New York fulfils a number of strategic learning, teaching, research and business objectives, and will act as an important recruitment hub for our Glasgow and London campuses.”