Enquiry concerned with governance surrounding senior pay at the University of Bath
The report of a HEFCE enquiry into governance surrounding senior pay at the University of Bath was published on 20 November 2017.
In July 2017, HEFCE received a complaint about governance matters relating to levels of senior pay at the University of Bath. Using our statutory powers, we carried out an enquiry into the matters raised in the complaint. These matters concerned certain specific events arising at a meeting of the university’s Court in February 2017 and the conduct of the university’s remuneration committee, including its oversight by the university’s governing body, its Council.
The report of the enquiry is below. It made 13 recommendations for improvement, specifically in connection with the university’s remuneration committee and the conduct of the university’s Court.
The report also says that while the remuneration committee meets the basic requirements of HEFCE and the guidance issued by the Committee of University Chairs, the university has ‘a significant distance to travel’ to open the committee’s work to legitimate scrutiny through enhancing its use of various measures of transparency.
The report welcomes the action already taken by the university, and notes that the effectiveness of the remuneration committee is within the scope of an independent review of its Council’s effectiveness, which is being carried out between November 2017 and May 2018.
Read the HEFCE report on its enquiry
HEFCE has now carried out detailed enquiries into governance issues concerning the University of Bath’s decision on the retirement terms of its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell. The enquiries followed concerns raised in a letter to HEFCE in November 2017 from Councillor Joe Rayment, a member of Bath and North East Somerset Council.
Councillor Rayment’s letter followed a previous HEFCE investigation and its ‘Report of an enquiry into a governance matter at the University of Bath’ which was published on 20 November 2017. The report of that enquiry made 13 recommendations for improvement, specifically in connection with the University’s remuneration committee and the conduct of the University’s Court.
The main concerns raised by Councillor Rayment in his letter in November were that the Council of the University had acted outside its powers in agreeing the retirement terms it did after publication of HEFCE’s report and that the processes surrounding the decision were flawed.
Following our enquiries and careful assessment, we concluded that the Council had acted within its powers in the way it dealt with the Vice-Chancellor's retirement arrangements overall and had followed its procedures correctly. We have therefore concluded on the evidence available that we should not take the matter further.
However, we have informed the University that in our view it could have been more transparent in explaining to its stakeholders at the time the underlying basis for the Vice-Chancellor's retirement arrangements – for example that these were contractual in nature and there were also precedents for the sabbatical agreed. We have also suggested to the University that its Council reflect further on the appropriateness of contractual terms as it prepares to appoint a successor to Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell.
We will continue to monitor actively the University of Bath’s progress in implementing all the recommendations of our November 2017 report, including the recommendations on transparency.