Anger at Bath University boss pay packet

June 20, 2012 11:57 AM

Bath may be home to one of the country’s top universities, but there is disquiet over news that the University of Bath’s Vice-Chancellor has had her salary increased by more than twice the rate of the rest of her staff. A local union report has revealed that Professor Glynis Breakwell’s basic pay of £284,000 is higher than that paid to the Chief Executive of Bath and North East Somerset Council—who took a pay-cut following recent public pressure—or bosses at Wessex Water and the Royal United Hospital, despite them all overseeing bigger budgets than her.

At a time when universities are charging students more and more for their degree courses to counter the effects of government cut-backs, it seems a little out of proportion to say the least. Local branches of the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite are seething.

‘Last year the Bath Vice-Chancellor received a remuneration package that was worth just over £150 for every other person working at the university,’ says their report, ‘the equivalent of the pay increase for all but the university’s high earners. This figure is higher than for any other vice-chancellors shown in the list of the country’s self-styled top universities. It is higher than the equivalent figure for the vice-chancellor of Oxford (£46) and Cambridge (£34) universities, higher than the president of Harvard (£35).’

A spokesman for the university has come back with the usual line that they need to fork out large amounts of taxpayers’ money to attract the best people. ‘Remuneration packages for vice-chancellors reflect what is required to recruit and retain individuals able to run complex, multi-million pound organisations operating in a highly competitive, global market,’ he said.

But this is not the first time that UCU has been angered by Professor Breakwell’s generous pay packet—and that received by other vice-chancellors. In response to an earlier survey of top pay at UK universities, their general secretary spoke out.

‘One of the reasons vice-chancellors’ pay has been so embarrassing for the sector has been the complete lack of transparency behind rises,’ said the union leader. ‘We want an end to the murky world of pay at the top of our universities and a fair system applied consistently from top to bottom. We have never opposed people being well-rewarded for a job well done [but there is] nothing to suggest that vice-chancellors' pay is properly scrutinised or the process for deciding an individual’s pay is fit for purpose. Even after years of promising to rein in pay at the top, there are examples of whopping rises.’

A year on from that statement, it appears little has changed and the Vice-Chancellor’s pay continues to spiral upwards just as students are having to pay £9,000 a year to attend her university. Comfortable times for some…Bath may be home to one of the country’s top universities, but there is disquiet over news that the University of Bath’s Vice-Chancellor has had her salary increased by more than twice the rate of the rest of her staff. A local union report has revealed that Professor Glynis Breakwell’s basic pay of £284,000 is higher than that paid to the Chief Executive of Bath and North East Somerset Council—who took a pay-cut following recent public pressure—or bosses at Wessex Water and the Royal United Hospital, despite them all overseeing bigger budgets than her.

At a time when universities are charging students more and more for their degree courses to counter the effects of government cut-backs, it seems a little out of proportion to say the least. Local branches of the University and College Union (UCU), Unison and Unite are seething.

‘Last year the Bath Vice-Chancellor received a remuneration package that was worth just over £150 for every other person working at the university,’ says their report, ‘the equivalent of the pay increase for all but the university’s high earners. This figure is higher than for any other vice-chancellors shown in the list of the country’s self-styled top universities. It is higher than the equivalent figure for the vice-chancellor of Oxford (£46) and Cambridge (£34) universities, higher than the president of Harvard (£35).’

A spokesman for the university has come back with the usual line that they need to fork out large amounts of taxpayers’ money to attract the best people. ‘Remuneration packages for vice-chancellors reflect what is required to recruit and retain individuals able to run complex, multi-million pound organisations operating in a highly competitive, global market,’ he said.

But this is not the first time that UCU has been angered by Professor Breakwell’s generous pay packet—and that received by other vice-chancellors. In response to an earlier survey of top pay at UK universities, their general secretary spoke out.

‘One of the reasons vice-chancellors’ pay has been so embarrassing for the sector has been the complete lack of transparency behind rises,’ said the union leader. ‘We want an end to the murky world of pay at the top of our universities and a fair system applied consistently from top to bottom. We have never opposed people being well-rewarded for a job well done [but there is] nothing to suggest that vice-chancellors' pay is properly scrutinised or the process for deciding an individual’s pay is fit for purpose. Even after years of promising to rein in pay at the top, there are examples of whopping rises.’

A year on from that statement, it appears little has changed and the Vice-Chancellor’s pay continues to spiral upwards just as students are having to pay £9,000 a year to attend her university. Comfortable times for some…

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