The University of East London paid a total of £589,000 in settlement to three senior managers, including its former vice-chancellor, who resigned before news emerged that two overseas ventures had collapsed.
Former vice-chancellor Patrick McGhee, former pro vice-chancellor international John Shaw and former pro vice-chancellor and director of finance Nirmal Borkhataria all resigned within a month of each other in December 2012 and January 2013. UEL said at the time that Professor McGhee had resigned on health grounds.
As Times Higher Education has previously reported, papers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that Professor McGhee’s last act as vice-chancellor was to set up an internal inquiry into failed overseas ventures established during his time in office. A Cyprus campus closed after recruiting just 17 students and an international examinations company also closed after a year of operation.
UEL’s recently published 2012-13 annual report and financial statement discloses that a combined total of £589,000 was paid to “three former high paid employees”.
Asked if this was for Professor McGhee, Mr Shaw and Mr Borkhataria, a UEL spokeswoman said the £589,000 “was the aggregate settlement payment for the three senior appointees…whose names you have cited”.
The spokeswoman would not comment on whether the three had signed non-disclosure agreements binding them to silence as part of their settlements.
The UEL accounts state that the failed international ventures cost a combined £1.4 million in 2012-13 in running and write-off costs: £809,000 for the Cyprus campus and £584,000 for UEL Global Examinations Board Limited.
In a section on key corporate risks, UEL’s annual report identifies a risk that “insufficient senior management capacity may prevent us from delivering strategic priorities. A number of senior post-holders left UEL during the year and processes have commenced to recruit high quality staff.”
Other voluntary departures in 2013 included Selena Bolingbroke, former pro vice-chancellor for strategic planning and external development, who took up a secondment at Goldsmiths, University of London in October, and Adrienne Clarke, former director of UEL’s international office.
The report also discloses that Professor McGhee received £183,000 in salary and pension contributions in 2012-13. His resignation was announced six months into the financial year, on 23 January 2013.
UEL’s spokeswoman said the figures “represent nine months’ remuneration at the same salary level as paid in 2011-12”.
Asked why Professor McGhee was paid for nine months and whether there was any additional settlement for him in the £589,000 total, the spokeswoman said the university would not comment further.
THE contacted Professor McGhee but he declined to comment on his settlement or the international ventures.