Wife of Bath scandal?
In this exclusive interview with reporter Keith Ponting (30), our vice-chancellor responds to recent attacks upon his fellow university head, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the
University of Bath.
Vice-chancellor, there are many who would claim that most vice-chancellors in this country are seriously overpaid, but I wonder how you respond to the specific claim by former education minister Lord Adonis that Dame Glynis’ annual salary of £451,000 sets an example of ‘greed’.
I regard it as very much another instance of “the politics of envy”.
But does it not strike you as slightly strange that a middle-ranking university that currently occupies the 64th place in terms of size in the UK is apparently paying its vice-chancellor a basic salary in excess of that received by any other UK vice-chancellor?
You are failing to take the Bath context into account. You see, Bath has gained an enviable reputation over the years for its readiness to reward its managers. In fact, it’s been something of a pioneer in this respect. Dame Glynis may now enjoy a basic salary of £451,000 a year, but she is firmly backed up by a deputy vice-chancellor on £220,000 a year and another 66 top managers who all earn over £100,000 a year, with 13 of those 67 earning over £150,000. That very much puts things into perspective.
But might there not also be some concern about Dame Glynis’ other pieces of good fortune? In addition to her salary of over £8,000 a week, and the extra £27,000 per year she is said to earn from non-executive directorships, it would appear that she also enjoys rent-free accommodation in a Georgian apartment in the centre of Bath, and claims an additional £20,000 a year for allowances, a figure that according to a reliable source recently included bills for a mop, laundry services, and a £2 expenses claim for biscuits.
It’s only too easy to get carried away with numbers. After all, even Thomas Sheppard, the distinguished head of Bath’s remuneration committee, has thrown doubt on the idea that Dame Glynis might be the highest-paid vice-chancellor in the country. In his judicious words, it is “terribly difficult to objectively find out”.
You mention the Bath remuneration committee. Presumably this includes at least some people who by reason of their background could be said to be in touch with economic reality?
Very much so. There are only five members, but these include a lawyer from a top 100 law firm, a chap from the world’s second-largest professional services firm, and a man from what is said to be the largest construction company in the known world. And, of course, there’s also Dame Glynis.
That’s right. But she always leaves the room when her salary is being discussed.
She leaves the room?
Oh yes. She gets up from her chair, walks across the room, opens the door, and goes outside. Right outside.
Thank you for your time, vice-chancellor.
Not at all. I’m only too pleased to speak on Dame Glynis’ behalf. As I’m sure most of my fellow vice-chancellors would allow, she very much sets the standard to which we all aspire.