Ex-minister quits university role over vice-chancellor's 'eye-watering' pay deal

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Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE meeting the Queen
Dame Glynis Breakwell DBE meeting the Queen
11 August 2017 4:00PM

A Tory former minister has quit a role at Bath University in protest over the "eye-watering" pay of its vice-chancellor, recently revealed as the country's highest paid university head.

Andrew Murrison said salaries for university bosses "are looking increasingly like a self-serving cartel".

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell was paid £451,000 last year for her role as vice-chancellor at Bath.

Mr Murrison, a former defence and Northern Ireland minister, has now written to the university to resign as an ex-officio member.

"Universities really need to be asking whether the eye-watering sums some are dispensing to vice-chancellors are really necessary to attract what they represent as talent," he said.

"As a pack, they are looking increasingly like a self-serving cartel at a time of mounting student debt and wage restraint elsewhere in the public and quasi-public sectors.

"I cannot in all conscience continue to be associated with the governance of Bath University, in however titular a capacity, whilst current practice remains unchallenged."

The South West Wiltshire MP has also expressed concerns over pay to the vice-chancellor of Bristol University, where Mr Murrison is an associated ex-officio member.

Lord Adonis, an education minister under the last Labour government, has previously said Prof Breakwell's salary was setting an example of "greed" to her staff.

University chiefs took home salary packages worth more than £250,000 on average last year, according to the University and College Union.

Mr Murrison stood down from the Court of Bath University, a statutory body representing the interests of the university's internal and external stakeholders.

A university spokesman said: "It takes no part in the day-to-day oversight of the university's affairs or in the decision-taking process, but provides a forum where members of court can raise any matters concerning the university.

"Amongst its ex-officio members are MPs representing constituencies in the vicinity of the university. Court meets once a year."