Bath Students in Vice Chancellor Pay Protest
Hundreds of students have marched through the University of Bath protesting against the retirement arrangements of their vice-chancellor.
Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell made her resignation announcement in December after a row about her salary of £468,000. She remains on full salary until formally leaving in February 2019. A car loan worth about £31,000 will be written off - but the university says there will be no financial payment attached to stepping down.
Bath Students Against Cuts and Fees said the terms of her stepping down were ‘unacceptable’ and that she should ‘leave now and without further recompense’.
Martha Rockhill, one of the protestors who attended the demonstration said: ‘I think her pay is unjustified and her actions are immoral. This is especially true given the current financial situation of both staff and students at the uni, with their pensions being threatened and our rising tuition fees.’
“'I think her pay is unjustified and her actions are immoral'
She also added: ‘For me though one of the worst things about her resignation was that by announcing it before the results of the demonstration and the SU referendum it seemed like the student voice was being undermined. The fact that so many people still showed up for the demonstration was great though as I think it shows how people recognise that the problem hasn't gone away with her resignation.’
Before the new year, Dame Glynis had narrowly survived a motion of no confidence in the university's senate, after the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) investigated a complaint made about governance at an annual meeting of the university court in February. Members raised concerns about the vice-chancellor’s pay as well as ‘the lack of transparency and accountability of the remuneration committee and the decisions the remuneration committee has made in the past year’.
“'People recognise that the problem hasn't gone away with her resignation'
Although 30 members voted in favour and 33 against, with two abstentions and was defeated, more than 300 staff had called for her resignation.
The background for the protest comes as rising inflation has pushed student loan interest to 6.1%. On top of this, freedom of information requests have revealed the university has run £1 million on student accommodation since 2009 - 10. The £3.5m figure was reached in the 2014/15 financial year, with £2.77m made in 2015/16.
Lord Andrew Adonis, former education minister, mentioned in a tweet: ‘This is the worst case of fat cat pay (£486k), but there are many others paid far too much & the spotlight is now on them to cut their pay sharply or resign.’
This includes chancellors such as Sir Christopher Snowden, the vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, who receives more than £350,000 annually.
The University of Birmingham pays Vice Chancellor David Eastwood £426,000 in salary and pensions.
Sir David was previously chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council since 2006 - the post responsible for overseeing the restructuring of the university finance system in England.
Dame Glynis – who was made a Dame Commander by the Queen in 2012 for services to higher education – is one of the UK’s longest-serving vice-chancellors.