VC named and shamed in the House of Lords for pay

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Jonny Brighton, a placement student, was in the House of Lords at the time the speech was made by Lord Adonis. Extra additions were made by Alisha Lobo.

Yesterday a speech was made by Lord Adonis in the House of Lords on the 1% salary growth cap for public sector workers. Lord Adonis called out the University of Bath managerial staff as being vastly overpaid receiving pay increases far too large when compared with other public sector workers.

He started by pointing out that 67 members of staff at the University of Bath are on yearly salaries over £100,000, 13 of which are over £150,000. He went on to mention Dame Glynis Breakwell, whose salary came to £406,000 last year, and was increased by 11% to £451,000 for this year (making the point that this is vastly unfair when compared to the 1% increase enjoyed by the public sector). Following this, he noted the fact that the Vice Chancellor also receives £27,000 from non-executive positions outside of her full-time role at Bath, as well as being the beneficiary of a large house in the centre of Bath, worth approximately £20,000 per year. This totals to over half a million pounds sterling per year for the Vice Chancellor, which Lord Adonis stated was more than three times the salary of the Prime Minister.

When the University was contacted for comment they stated that “The salary and conditions of service of our Vice-Chancellor are independently determined by the Remuneration Committee of our University Council and are comparable with that of long-standing Vice-Chancellors in other successful universities. The increase reported in the 2015-16 accounts reflects her excellent track record and the confidence placed in her leadership of the senior team and the wider University community.”

Lord Adonis continued by noting that when the University of Bath Court held a vote to censure the remuneration committee (in charge of paying staff at the university), it decided against by the narrow margin of 33 to 30, but of that majority mentioned both Dame Glynis and the remuneration committee members in question were included in the vote. Many of the individuals who were included in the vote were part of the remuneration committee or would have been directly affected by the outcomes of the remuneration committee having definite implications on the outcome of the vote.

A piece of written evidence was also used by Lord Adonis by an unnamed member of staff from the university, who suggested there is a ‘self-serving senior management’ at the university causing ‘reputational harm’ to a university otherwise comprised of ‘wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated staff and students’. Lord Adonis went on to suggest that ‘the only example the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath is setting to her staff is one of greed’, and that ‘if this isn’t a case for […] the government to intervene, I don’t know what is’. Finally, he completed his speech on remuneration at the university with these strong words: ‘that is not my idea of a university, I doubt it appeals to your Lordships either’.

The Students’ Union President, Ben Davies said that ‘this statement in the House of Lords is a testament to the gross inequality that has been a continuous source of conflict at the University for years. I hope this stands as a wake- up call to the Vice Chancellor and the senior management of the University to revaluate this situation. The manner in which it is decided (remuneration committee) is highly contentious and should be more transparent. It is my hope that the University and the Students’ Union work together to find a suitable solution.’

28242 VC Portraits Feb 2014. Client: Sarah Revans – VC Office

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