The University of Bath’s Vice-Chancellor has chosen to step down following outrage over her wages. Dame Glynis Breakwell, who was the UK’s highest-paid Vice- Chancellor with a salary of £468,000, will step down at the end of the academic year to mark seventeen years of holding her post. She plans to take a sabbatical, where she will receive around £230,000, before officially retiring in 2019.
Dame Breakwell will also have a £31,000 car loan written off but the university has claimed that “no payments for loss of employment or office will be made to her”. The decision, which was made two days before the university’s next council meeting and proposed student and staff protests, was met with heavy criticism.
Representatives for Bath
Students Against Cuts And Fees impelled her to “leave now and without further recompense,” and a joint statement made by the campus unions said that the £600,000 Professor Breakwell will receive is “an enormous reward for failure”.
This came on the heels of news that the former Vice-Chancellor had received a pay-rise of £17,500, a rise of 25 percent compared to 0.5 percent of some other university employees.
Meanwhile, Lord Adonis, the former education minister who helped prompt an investigation of Bath University, stated that her position was “clearly untenable, and had been for many months”.
Adonis added that this story is not an isolated incident, saying “most of England’s Vice-Chancellors are grossly overpaid,” and that they “need to take careful note of the student and public backlash against fat cat salaries.”
He is not the only politician to react; four MPs gave up their positions on the University of Bath’s advisory board. In a joint statement, MP Kerry McCarthy and David Drew said that they did not think her salary was justified “especially when students are taking on debts of £60,000 to pay fees, and spending 30 years of their working lives paying them off.”
Dame Breakwell defended her position when announcing her leave, claiming that since 2001, the university “has almost tripled in size and is now among the top universities in the UK”.
In an interview, she claimed that: “The amount that I’m being paid is actually associated with the sort of global competition that exists now for leadership within universities,” and that, while it was possible for someone to perform well if paid less, whether “they would do a really good job…is a different issue”.