The lavish cost accounts of a few of Britain?ˉs university vice-chancellors are today laid bare within an investigation whose revelations have drawn comparisons with all the 2009 scandal that did a lot to undermine the reputation of Britain?ˉs Mps.
A Channel four Dispatches programme has unearthed evidence that, at a time when lecturers are using industrial motion above opportunity cuts for their pensions, those charged with functioning most of the country?ˉs universities are savoring first-class air travel, five-star lodges and high-quality dining.
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Almost two hundred Freedom of knowledge requests despatched to establishments about the nation reveal to the first time the promises manufactured by vice-chancellors as well as their staff members. They contain a series of questionable goods like a pornstar martini?±, a silver salver, Easter eggs along with 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.
Between them, the country?ˉs vice-chancellors as well as their senior colleagues claimed just about ?ê8m in expenditures more than 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 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 people of their academic colleagues who have received an average 1% annual pay rise since 2012 ¨C a fall in real terms.
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Last week, the prime minister waded into the row, claiming the level of fees billed do not relate to the cost or quality in the course?±, and adding: We now have one on 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 of your University on the West of England.
Dispatches reveals West claimed ?ê43,000 in expenses, 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 of your College 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 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 very first place.?±
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On the universities asked about vice-chancellors?ˉ expenditures, 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 within 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.?±
The Observer see about the shambolic way universities are run
The Observer watch about the shambolic way universities are operate
The Observer perspective around the shambolic way universities are operate
British university vice-chancellors?ˉ five-star expenses
British college vice-chancellors?ˉ five-star charges