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Staff say Bath vice-chancellor must resign following damning report

20 November 2017

Staff at the University of Bath have called on the vice-chancellor and board of governors to resign in the wake of a damning report into senior pay and governance at the university.

The report, conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), made 13 recommendations for improvements, specifically in connection with its remuneration committee (which sets the vice-chancellor's pay) and the conduct of the university's Court.

UCU has long been campaigning for better transparency over senior pay in universities. The union has found that three-quarters of universities do not provide unredacted minutes of their remuneration committees meetings. Over two-thirds (71%) of vice-chancellors are either members of their university's remuneration committee or can attend. 

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'This report final shines some light on the murky world of senior pay in our universities. For too long vice-chancellors have hidden behind the supposed independence of the remuneration committee when it comes to defending large pay deals for themselves. The lack of transparency has been exposed and we welcome the call from Hefce for staff and students to finally be given a seat at the top table.'

Reps from the trade unions representing staff at the University of Bath (UCU, UNISON and Unite) said there had to be radical reform of how the university was governed and greater involvement for staff and students in key decisions. They said that any severance packages agreed for current senior staff had to be fully transparent.

President of Bath UCU Dr Michael Carley said: 'The time has come for a fresh start if the university is to recover its reputation as a centre of academic excellence. For too long the governing body has failed to hold senior managers to account, and ignored warnings from staff and students that this would cause lasting reputational damage. Corporate greed and ineptitude are now overshadowing our high quality teaching and research. The vice-chancellor and governing body inspire no confidence and should step aside. Any severance deals must be made in the spirit of greater transparency and fully explained.'

UNISON branch secretary Dr Christopher Roche said: 'Excessive pay rises for a few at the top have been at the expense of the vast majority of university staff whose pay has been cut by 15% since 2009. On top of this, Bath depends heavily on zero-hours and other insecure contracts for all kinds of jobs, from cleaning to teaching. This is no way to run a university.'

Unite branch secretary Walter Guy said: 'This is a crisis created by those at the top and inflicted upon staff and students. For staff, the final straw has been the effect on our reputation with prospective students and their parents. University open days have brought embarrassing questions about overpaid managers and poor governance that we cannot possibly answer. We need to see new structures in place that ensure staff and students can hold senior managers to account.'

Last month UCU said that the belated removal of vice-chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell from the committee that sets her pay was a "worthless stunt" without proper reform. It has since been revealed that she received a £17,500 rise last year taking her salary and benefits package up to £468,500.