The lavish price accounts of a number of Britain?ˉs university vice-chancellors are now laid bare in an investigation whose revelations have drawn comparisons while using the 2009 scandal that did a lot to undermine the popularity of Britain?ˉs Mps.
A Channel four Dispatches programme has unearthed proof that, in a time when lecturers are taking industrial motion above prospective cuts to their pensions, individuals charged with running a lot of the country?ˉs universities are making the most of first-class air journey, five-star hotels and great eating.
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Virtually 200 Independence of information requests sent to establishments all around the state expose for that 1st time the statements built by vice-chancellors and their staff members. They contain a series of questionable items together with a pornstar martini, a silver salver, Easter eggs as well as a Fortnum & Mason hamper. One college even paid ?ê1,600 for its new vice-chancellor?ˉs pet dog, a Maltese called Oscar, to be relocated from Australia.
Between them, the country?ˉs vice-chancellors as well as their senior colleagues claimed just about ?ê8m in bills above the last two years, Dispatches discovered.
The findings will reignite the debate about the remuneration of people paid to run the country?ˉs universities, which rake in ?ê17bn a year from their students who are paying up to ?ê9,250 in annual tuition fees. The debate was intensified in 2016 by the revelation that the College of Bath had provided its vice-chancellor, Dame Glynis Breakwell, with a grace and favour property, a perk condemned by Mps and academics.
Breakwell ¨C whose total pay package of ?ê468,000, the highest in the land, was attacked as excessive by former Labour education minister Lord Adonis ¨C agreed last year to step down from her position in August this year. But last month the university?ˉs court, an advisory board, passed a motion of no confidence, calling for her to stand down immediately.
But with more than 60 vice-chancellors now earning in excess of ?ê300,000 a year, there are concerns that their pay packages and perks are out of kilter with those people of their academic colleagues who have received an average 1% annual pay rise since 2012 ¨C a fall in real terms.
Theresa May promises that college fees ??do not relate to the cost or quality from the course?ˉ
Last week, the prime minister waded into the row, claiming the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality in the course, and adding: We now have one of the most expensive systems of college tuition in the world.
In a bid to ensure students get value for money, the government is to establish the Office for Students, whose board includes professor Steve West, the vice-chancellor with the College of the West of England.
Dispatches reveals West claimed ?ê43,000 in expenditures, including ?ê10,000 on executive cars with a firm that describes itself as the premier chauffeur service in Bristol and the south-west.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, questioned what message West?ˉs appointment sent to students. She also queried the arcane way in which most universities allowed their vice-chancellors to attend meetings of their remuneration committees, absenting themselves only when their pay was decided.
If you?ˉre a leader you have to be open and clear about what?ˉs going on, and hiding in a toilet, going out for a cup of tea while your mates decide your salary ¨C sorry that doesn?ˉt make sense to me, Hunt said. That?ˉs now how big salaries should be decided.
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Commenting on the findings, Robert Halfon Mp, the Conservative chairman with the Commons Education Select Committee said: Those kinds of examples are pretty shocking. Dare I say it being an Mp, but the dog example is slightly comparable to duckhouses, which caused the expenditure scandal for members of parliament in the primary place.
In the universities asked about vice-chancellors?ˉ fees, 13 either did not respond or refused to do so.Halfon called for all universities to publish the costs of all their senior management.
We live within an age of transparency, we live in an age of accountability. We have enormous pressures on the public sector. We have a duty to the taxpayer, we have a duty to the student.