Degrees in greed: University chief picked up £1m over four years (and nine others earned more than £300,000)

The head of a former technical college earned £1million in four years before taking early retirement while her institution spiralled into debt.

Professor Patricia Broadfoot, 62, was the highest paid university Vice-Chancellor in the UK last year, according to research revealing the pay, benefits and pensions of all higher education chiefs.

The study highlighted the ‘murky’ world of ‘arbitrary’ pay at Britain’s universities and showed that three-quarters of chiefs enjoyed a pay rise last year. Ten vice-chancellors earned more than £300,000 a year. In addition they received annual cash payments into their pension schemes of up to £60,000.

A handful of chiefs at low-ranking institutions, beset with financial troubles, have been granted massive and ‘utterly arbitrary’ pay rises of anything up to 70 per cent. Most disturbing was the amount paid to Professor Broadfoot who last year earned £494,000, including her pension, while presiding over little-known Gloucestershire University.

This sum included a £196,000 ‘pay-off’, equivalent to a year’s basic salary, after she stepped down last March, a year early. Her total earnings over four years were £1,088,000.

The mother of three was also criticised for profligate spending, at one point attempting to hire a personal chauffeur. During her tenure the institution – which became a university in 2001 after teaching mechanics since 1884 – tried to expand and over-invest as the recession took hold.

It plunged into debt and was placed on the ‘at risk’ register of universities threatened with closure or merging.Professor Broadfoot graduated from Leeds University in 1971 with a degree in sociology. Some 13 years later she got her PhD from the Open University.

She was one of five high-profile figures at the university to resign between 2009 and 2011. She was followed by the Chancellor, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey.

Yesterday the university said it had recently recorded a surplus of £2million and was making a strong financial recovery.

Spokesman Paul Brake said: ‘The university has significantly improved its financial position by reducing costs and growing income through the hard work of staff.’ The research, commissioned for the Times Higher Education Supplement, revealed high levels of pay at other low-ranking universities.

Liverpool Hope boss Gerald Pillay saw his salary balloon by 20.6 per cent to £199,077 as some 110 of his staff face the axe.
Second-highest pay: Professor Andrew Hamilton of Oxford University earned £423,000.

Ninety per cent of the vice-chancellors at the 148 universities earn more than Prime Minister David Cameron’s £142,500 salary. However, 36 vice-chancellors did see their earnings fall. Overall their average pay and benefits rose by 0.5 per cent to £213,813.

The figures come as students face mountains of debt when fees increase to a maximum of £9,000. And with Aston University yesterday announcing it will charge £9,000, as Essex and Surrey did earlier this week, observers warn that all but a handful will charge the full amount.

The study also coincided with thousands of staff at more than 500 universities and colleges going on strike over pay and conditions.

Sally Hunt, of the University and College Union (UCU), called for reform of vice-chancellor pay. She said: ‘UCU members in universities are on strike today defending their pay and conditions and it is somewhat galling to discover that many vice-chancellors are still enjoying handsome, and utterly arbitrary, pay hikes.

‘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.

‘However, today’s survey does nothing to suggest that vice-chancellors’ pay is properly scrutinised or that 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.’

The second highest paid Vice-Chancellor was Professor Andrew Hamilton of Oxford University who earned £370,000 before his pension of £53,000 – a total of £423,000. His predecessor Dr John Hood received £78,000 to cover his relocation costs – he sent belongings to New Zealand and America.

Gloucestershire University has appointed David Willetts’s right-hand man Stephen Marston, from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, as its new vice-chancellor.


Bullied Macquarie University staff demand an apology

Six former Macquarie University staff have demanded an official apology from vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz for the university's failure to act on claims of victimisation and bullying subsequently found to be justified by an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.

In an open letter sent yesterday, they also called for further action on other recommendations in the ICAC report, including addressing a chaotic staffing regime at the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism headed by former NSW police minister Peter Anderson.

The university says it has dealt with these issues, including accepting merit selection as the basis for appointments.

The letter reflects the frustration of former staff that their complaints have been largely ignored, even after the scathing findings of the ICAC-commissioned inquiry and their publication in The Australian a fortnight ago.

The report found nine of the centre's 12 staff made legitimate complaints of victimisation, marginalisation, bullying and harassment. They include the six who signed the letter. Although they pursued the complaints all the way up the university hierarchy to Professor Schwartz, the report says the university took no action to resolve them. Eight of the staff resigned and one did not have her contract renewed.

The report criticised Professor Anderson for contributing to the bullying and victimisation, as well as for appointing people with Labor connections without meeting selection criteria, for claiming inappropriate expenses and for being less than frank in his explanations to the inquiry. The report found no direct evidence of corruption but concluded there were "justifiable perceptions that the processes of recruitment and selection are corrupt".

It said the university should consider providing an apology "for the apparent failure in responding to [the complainants'] workplace grievances and taking appropriate action".

Yesterday's letter says deputy vice-chancellor Judyth Sachs "violated our trust" by forwarding the second complaint sent to her and Professor Schwartz to Professor Anderson, even though it was marked in confidence and contained their names. The former staff who signed the letter are Elton Bien, Alfred Gerstl, Belinda Helmke, Greg Pemberton, David Santoro and Alan Watson.

A university spokesman said yesterday the letter reiterated selected parts of the report, "which contains many serious flaws".

No apology to former staff was warranted as the only formal complaint lodged with the university had been found to be without merit, the spokesman said. Professor Sachs had acted "in an entirely appropriate way and consistently with normal management processes". He also provided a resolution carried by PICT staff last week affirming support for Professor Anderson and asking the university to lodge formal complaints with the Internal Audit Bureau, which conducted the investigation for ICAC, with ICAC itself and with the NSW Ombudsman regarding the "unfair processes and erroneous outcome of their investigation, giving rise to recent adverse publicity".


Wikipedia: Bullying in academia

Bullying in academia is workplace bullying of scholars and staff in academia, especially places of higher education such as colleges. It is believed to be common, although has not received as much attention from researchers as bullying in some other contexts...

Wikipedia entry:

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Channel 4 is making a documentary

Channel 4 is making a documentary about the commercialisation of higher education. One of the areas the programme will explore is the conflict between university managements' desire to increase revenue and the necessity to maintain academic standards.

We are looking to speak on or off the record to academics who feel that standards are being compromised, for example by inflating grades and overlooking poor standards in English, as their institutions seek to maximise income from tuition fees from both UK and overseas students.

If you are willing to speak to me off the record and in confidence, please do get in touch in the strictest confidence.

Gurbir Dhillon - Assistant Producer - Vera Productions
Tel: 0207-292-1480 / 07768-725121