On 19 June, the Office for Students published Regulatory Advice 9, an “accounts direction” requiring providers to justify as well as to declare the salaries of vice-chancellors. If this is not done to the satisfaction of the OfS, the watchdog “will not hesitate to intervene”, its chief executive has said. It will require, among other things, an explanation of what value the head of the institution has delivered, and the process by which their performance was judged. One envisages a flurry of revisions to the usual practice in “appraisal” of vice-chancellors.
The nature of the threatened “intervention” is not made clear. It seems that the OfS can only deregister a provider, which would have the effect of ending its students’ right to access student loans through the Student Loans Company.
On 21 June, Times Higher Education published a news story revealing that “For-profit UK college heads paid more than v-cs”. The figures were shocking. These providers, too, will be at risk of losing student access to SLC loans if their annual financial statements add up in a way unsatisfactory to the OfS.
But the wording of the 19 June announcement suggests that the OfS had been thinking only of conventional “universities” with “vice-chancellors”, some of whose salaries have been hitting the headlines of late. Perhaps the OfS will explain how that will fit with these new revelations.
G. R. Evans