The former vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University was paid nearly £160,000 upon leaving his job a number of months early, it has been revealed.
Malcolm Gillies, who officially retired as head of London Met in July 2014, was paid a total of £453,000 in his final year of office, according to the university’s latest financial statements, which is thought to make him the UK’s highest paid vice-chancellor last year.
Of this, £412,000 was salary and £41,000 was pension contributions. It also included a £159,000 “accrued payment in lieu of notice”.
Professor Gillies agreed to step aside earlier than planned, having announced in November 2013 that he intended to serve a 12-month notice period. His early departure allowed his replacement, John Raftery, to begin at the start of the 2014-15 academic year, with the lump sum paid to Professor Gillies to cover his “remaining notice period”, a London Met spokesman said.
But the payment has angered some staff, given Professor Gillies’ controversial four-and-a-half-year tenure at London Met, in which the university cut hundreds of courses, reduced staff numbers and temporarily lost its licence to recruit international students in 2012.
Max Watson, Unison branch secretary at London Met, believed that staff would be “disgusted” to hear about the payment in light of the swingeing cuts that took place under Professor Gillies’ leadership.
It is not the first time Professor Gillies has received a large sum upon leaving a university. City University London paid him more than £100,000 on top of his salary as part of a “compromise agreement” after he resigned as vice-chancellor there in 2009.
The Australian-born music scholar will also receive a £25,000-a-year pension and a tax-free sum of £165,000 as a result of contributions towards the Universities Superannuation Scheme during his seven years in the UK, the London Met accounts show.
His time at London Met did see the institution stabilise its finances after it registered an operating deficit of £700,000 in 2013-14, which was £1.7 million better than its budgeted £2.4 million.
That was partly the result of continued staff savings, with the number of academic staff falling by 21 per cent in 2013-14 – an overall reduction of 140 posts – while administrative staff numbers fell by 110.
London Met also managed to generate about £30 million from the sale of three university properties, resulting in a surplus of £22.4 million if that income is included.
In its accounts, London Met says that it intends to run an operational deficit for the next two years before returning to a surplus in 2016-17, partly as a result of increased international student numbers.
A London Met spokesman said that it is investing £20 million in students numbers and retention.
“We will also continue to focus on our international market, where we have seen a rise in applications and a 31 per cent increase in firm acceptances from international students applying through Ucas,” he added.