Glyndwr University Redundancies
Vice-chancellor of troubled uni paid £300k despite job losses and financial worries
Figures show Glyndwr University gave its former leader Professor Michael Scott a 33% pay rise in 2014-15 prior to his departure from the institution.
A troubled university has been criticised for paying its vice-chancellor more than £300,000 at a time when it was battling serious financial issues and scores of staff were losing their jobs.
A report into vice-chancellors’ pay and perks found that Glyndwr University gave its former leader Professor Michael Scott a 33% pay rise in 2014-15, prior to his departure from the institution.
According to a study by the University and College Union (UCU), Prof Scott’s total emoluments rose to £301,548 last year – the highest in Wales – from £227,090 in 2013-14.
Glyndwr has faced a number of problems in recent years and a controversial operational and academic restructure saw the loss of 60 jobs .
The university had a £4m deficit in 2013-14 and Prof Scott survived calls for him to step down after a row over redundancies. He left the institution in January 2015.
‘Urgent need for a review of governance in our universities’
Lisa Edwards, policy officer for UCU Wales, said: “The staggering pay package taken by the ex-vice-chancellor of Glyndwr University clearly demonstrates the urgent need for a review of governance in our universities.
“What makes this report even more shocking is the fact the pay rise was awarded at the same time the university was facing serious financial difficulties and calling for more than 60 staff redundancies .
“In this time of tight budgets, it is vital that money is spent wisely for the benefit of students and not for the benefit of a few individuals.
“With new leadership in place at Glyndwr, we are hopeful that it signals an end to the mismanagement of funds in this institution.”
Prof Scott was among a host of Welsh vice-chancellors awarded generous pay rises last year.
Others included Prof Julie Lydon, who was paid £222,000 (+8%) by the University of South Wales; Trinity Saint David’s Prof Medwin Hughes, who got £264,316 (+5%); Cardiff Met’s Prof Antony Chapman, who was given £239,812 (+4%); Aberystwyth’s Prof April McMahon, who received £247,000 (+2%); and Bangor’s Prof John Hughes, who got £228,000 (+2%).
‘Welsh taxpayers should be outraged at the total disregard members of staff have for funds’
The UCU report ranked Prof Chapman among the highest spenders on hotel accommodation in 2014-15, having spent an average of £233.50 a night.
Prof Lydon spent a total of £2,319.62 on air fares, while Prof Chapman and Prof Medwin Hughes travelled everywhere either business or first-class.
Figures show Cardiff and Bangor universities paid the most for their vice-chancellors’ residential accommodation, with both forking out £750,000.
Lee Canning, Wales co-ordinator for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Welsh taxpayers of today and tomorrow should be outraged at the total disregard members of staff at such institutions have for the funds paid on behalf of students for their education.
“The Welsh Government’s pledge of £5,000 per year of public funds has already pillaged the public purse and will continue to do so.
“The evidence of lavish expenditure proves that universities can charge whatever fees they wish in the knowledge that a well-intended policy has now mushroom-clouded into a further extension of an already overburdened welfare state that is ready and waiting to be exploited.”
Glyndwr’s interim vice-chancellor Prof Graham Upton said the university leader’s pay was determined by a specially-constituted remuneration committee.
‘Remuneration of vice-chancellor of Glyndwr has always been among the lowest in the UK’
“This is regarded as good practice, not only in the higher education sector, but across the whole spectrum of the private and public sector,” he said.
“In making decisions about pay, remuneration committees have access to confidential information about salaries across the sector.
“They are also well-informed about institutional and personal issues which might be relevant to any decisions they make.
“I can’t comment on the pay of the former vice-chancellor because that refers to a period when I was not involved in the university, but I have looked back over recent years and the remuneration of the vice-chancellor of Glyndwr has always been among the lowest in the UK.
“As we move forward and look to the future, not the past, our financial position is strengthening and the university looks forward to welcoming its new vice-chancellor in the coming months.”