Andrew Adonis attacks ‘greed’ of £450K Bath v-c

Labour peer calls for funding council intervention on Glynis Breakwell’s salary

July 14, 2017

Former Labour education minister Lord Adonis has urged the government to “cut vice-chancellors’ pay”, accusing the University of Bath vice-chancellor of “greed” over her £450,000 salary.

The peer made his call during a debate on public-sector pay in the House of Lords on 13 July, singling out Bath and its vice-chancellor, Dame Glynis Breakwell, for criticism.

In January, Times Higher Education revealed the £45,000 pay rise that Bath handed to Dame Glynis in 2015-16. The 11 per cent uplift took her salary, including benefits, to £451,000.

Lord Adonis asked: “Do the government believe that average salaries of £275,000 for England’s vice- chancellors are justified? What do the government intend to do to cut vice-chancellors’ pay?”

He said that Dame Glynis “earns £27,000 from three non-executive directorships…She also has a large house in the historic centre of Bath – a benefit in kind worth £20,000 a year. Put all that together, and Glynis Breakwell is paid almost exactly half a million pounds – more than three times the prime minister’s salary.”

Lord Adonis noted that Bath’s university court had “voted by the narrow margin of 33 votes to 30 not to censure the remuneration committee”, which agreed Dame Glynis’ salary.

“However, that majority of three included the vice-chancellor herself and the very members of the remuneration committee whose conduct was in question,” he added.

Minutes from a Bath court meeting in February show that a motion was put forward expressing concern about the vice-chancellors’ pay.

The motion stated: “That Court makes representation to Council that it is concerned at the lack of transparency and accountability of the Remuneration Committee and the decisions the Remuneration Committee has made in the past year.” However, the motion was defeated.

Lord Adonis added of Bath: “If this is not a case for Hefce [the Higher Education Funding Council for England] and the government to intervene, I do not know what is.”

He continued: “The only example the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath is setting to her staff is one of greed…So I hope the minister will tell us what the government will do to stop it.”

Lord Bates, responding for the government, said: “I think that the House will have been in some shock as [Lord Adonis] quoted the numbers relating to public-sector pay for vice-chancellors and the specific example of the University of Bath.”

But he added: “Universities are independent and autonomous institutions, and are responsible for setting the pay for their staff…The government have no current plans to intervene in universities’ remuneration.”

The Conservative peer was then challenged by Baroness Blackstone, the Labour peer and former vice-chancellor of the University of Greenwich, who suggested that Hefce “ought to intervene” in Bath’s remuneration setting.

Lord Bates added: “I certainly undertake to relay to colleagues the views and concerns raised by [Lord Adonis and Lady Blackstone] and others in the House to see what further can be done, and I will be happy to write to the noble Baroness when I have done that.”

Bath said in a statement: “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.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

Much as I might query the pay levels of some vice-chancellors, they are not public sector workers. Universities are private not for profit (in the main) institutions and not an arm of the government. This is more true now than in former years given the tuition fee situation. I would liken universities to defence contractors who get business from the state but are not public bodies. At present, we have he worst of all worlds - a fee regime that produces costly degrees but a burden of regulation from the government preventing a free market.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan

University of Oxford

Reinstatement of professor over age discrimination must force rethink over ‘unfair’ retirement rules, say campaigners