Family & Education

University of Bath vice-chancellor quits in pay row

Glynis Breakwell
Image caption Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell has faced criticism over excessive pay

The vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, facing accusations of excessive pay, has stepped down.

Dame Prof Glynis Breakwell, the UK's highest paid vice-chancellor with a salary of £468,000, had become the focus of criticisms of rising pay among university leaders.

Lecturers had complained that her pay had risen much more rapidly than the salaries of university staff.

Dame Glynis will step down at the end of the summer term.


Dame Glynis said she had "served the university to the best of my ability" and would now take a sabbatical before formally retiring in 2019.

She will stay on full pay through her sabbatical and a car loan worth about £31,000 will be written off - but the university says there will be no financial payment attached to stepping down.

Former Education Minister Lord Adonis, who had called her pay "shameless and outrageous", criticised the arrangements as allowing a "lame duck" to remain on full pay.

Bath Students Against Cuts and Fees said the terms of her stepping down were "unacceptable" and that she should "leave now and without further recompense".

And in response to her departure, Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers' union, said her "position had become untenable".

Pay protests

The vice-chancellor had faced a wave of challenges over her pay.

Last week Dame Glynis had narrowly survived a motion of no confidence in the university's senate, but more than 300 staff had called for her resignation.

Four local MPs had resigned from roles at the university.

And there were more protests and censures planned for later this week - with criticism from staff and students that her pay was unreasonably high.

Dame Glynis's pay had come into sharper focus in the debates over tuition fees and value for money for students.

When tuition fees in England were increased to £9,250, there were accusations that universities were spending too much on their own senior leaders.

The Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, had highlighted concerns about the "upward spiral" of vice-chancellors' pay and had warned them that they needed to show more restraint.

'Outstanding service'

But Dame Glynis said she had raised the size and status of the university during her time in charge.

"Since 2001 the university has changed dramatically," said Dame Glynis, as she announced stepping down.

"It has almost tripled in size and is now among the top universities in the UK.

"It has had many great achievements in its first 51 years and it will go on to be even greater."

Thomas Sheppard, chair of the university's council, said: "Dame Glynis Breakwell has given outstanding service to the University of Bath, which has seen the university's national and international profile grow enormously under her leadership."

UCU leader, Ms Hunt, said: "This whole episode has shone an important light on the murky world of senior pay in our universities and it would be wrong to think a change at the top of one institution solves that problem."