The lavish cost accounts of some of Britain?ˉs university vice-chancellors are these days laid bare within an investigation whose revelations have drawn comparisons with the 2009 scandal that did significantly to undermine the name of Britain?ˉs Mps.
A Channel 4 Dispatches programme has unearthed proof that, at a time when lecturers are getting industrial motion in excess of probable cuts to their pensions, all those charged with running lots of the country?ˉs universities are enjoying first-class air travel, five-star inns and high-quality eating.
Virtually two hundred Independence of data requests sent to institutions all-around the region expose for the initially time the promises designed by vice-chancellors as well as their staff. They include a series of questionable goods which include a pornstar martini?±, a silver salver, Easter eggs as well as a Fortnum & Mason hamper. One university even paid ?ê1,600 for its new vice-chancellor?ˉs pet dog, a Maltese called Oscar, to be relocated from Australia.
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Between them, the country?ˉs vice-chancellors as well as their senior colleagues claimed nearly ?ê8m in charges around the last two years, Dispatches discovered.
The findings will reignite the debate about the remuneration of those 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 University 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 all those of their academic colleagues who have received an average 1% annual pay rise since 2012 ¨C a fall in real terms.
Theresa May claims 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 on the most expensive systems of university 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 on the College of your West of England.
Dispatches reveals West claimed ?ê43,000 in charges, like ?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 in 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.?±
Commenting on the findings, Robert Halfon Mp, the Conservative chairman in 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 expense scandal for members of parliament in the primary place.?±
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Of your universities asked about vice-chancellors?ˉ bills, 13 either did not respond or refused to do so.Halfon called for all universities to publish the fees 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.