Plymouth University has attracted ridicule after it was revealed the institution is spending £150,000 on seven chairs to be used during graduation ceremonies.
The university's senior management team commissioned the handcrafted chairs by furniture designer John Makepeace, who has an OBE for his services to furniture design.
In an internal email that was leaked to the BBC, the university's PR department warned that such a huge spend could damage their reputation.
Professor David Coslett, deputy vice chancellor, said Plymouth University hoped to pay for the chairs through "private donations and charitable foundations".
Coslett defended the costs, claiming the university's annual graduation week attracts more than 25,000 students and guests and injects around £700,000 into Plymouth's economy.
"The planned commissioning of new graduation furniture is the next stage in the development of our graduation ceremonies", he said.
The news comes as the university undergoes separate scandals, including investigations into the conduct of chairman William Taylor and vice chancellor Wendy Purcell.
Taylor has stood aside after claims of sexual harassment were made by a number of female staff and students.
The claims were submitted by Purcell, who is currently suspended while a separate investigation is held into her conduct, though the university is yet to reveal the reason for her suspension.