Sussex Uni slammed for vice chancellor’s £230k golden goodbye

Posted On 08 Dec 2017 at 4:39 pm

The University of Sussex has come under fire for giving its former vice chancellor Michael Farthing a £230,000 payoff.

Michael Farthing

The staggering figure, which was paid on top of his monthly £19,000 salary and £3,000 pension contributions in August last year, has been condemned by the University and College Union (UCU) as “excessive”.

The figures were published as part of the university’s annual accounts, which noted that of the £252,000 paid to Professor Farthing in August 2017, £230,000 was paid in lieu of notice. It added that the money was sourced from non-Hefce funds (Higher Education Funding Council for England).

The payoff is the latest in a line of massive payouts given to vice chancellors across the country to be highlighted in recent weeks.

Hefce is investigating a similar payoff set to be given to Dame Glynis Breakwell when she leaves the University of Bath, and on Wednesday, it was revealed that Bath Spa University gave its former vice chancellor Christina Slade a £429,000 payout.

And at the start of the week, the University of Southampton was forced to admit its vice-chancellor was on the committee that set his £433,000 pay package, after wrongly saying he wasn’t.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “In any other week a quarter of a million pounds payout would be huge news, but we have already seen one almost twice as big this week. With further excessive pay revelations likely to follow, it is time universities stopped simply trying to defend the system and accept there must be radical change.

“Vice-chancellors must be removed from the committees setting their pay and signing off their perks. They must publish full minutes of those meetings and staff and students must be given a seat at those tables to properly scrutinise these deals.”

A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “The University’s approach to senior staff remuneration continues to be open and transparent, and we take our governance responsibilities and sector compliance requirements very seriously.

“In the case of our former Vice-Chancellor, we met our contractual obligations to him and this has been clearly published in our annual financial accounts.”

A spokeswoman for Hefce said this lunchtime: “I can confirm that we haven’t, to date, received a complaint or public interest disclosure relating to this issue.”

The accounts also showed that there are 46 staff receiving salaries of £100,000 or more – down two from 2016.

The total number of staff employed by the university is up 5.6% to 2,602 from 2,463. There have been substantial rises in the number of academic, technical and management staff, but a big drop in other staff.

In total, it spent £6.5million on staff – more than half its total £12.3million expenditure.

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