Three MPs quit Bath University roles over vice-chancellor pay

Kerry McCarthy and David Drew
Image caption Labour's Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy and MP for Stroud David Drew both confirmed they are standing down

Three more MPs are to quit their roles at the University of Bath in protest over the vice-chancellor's "unjustifiable" pay.

Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell earns £451,000 a year and is the highest paid vice-chancellor in the country.

Labour's Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy, Bristol North West MP Darren Jones and Stroud MP David Drew all confirmed they are standing down.

Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, resigned two weeks ago.

All four were ex-officio members of the Court of Bath University, a statutory body representing the interests of the university's internal and external stakeholders.

Ms McCarthy said her resignation was to "put down a marker" about the "absolutely massive increases in pay that vice-chancellors in universities across the country have been getting recently".

She said that it was not "sustainable" or "fair" while "tuition fees are going up and students are struggling".

"At what point does it become justifiable to pay someone £450,000?" she added.

Image caption Darren Jones wants an inquiry into public sector executive pay

Mr Jones said the vice-chancellor's pay was "excessive" and he was standing down in support of Lord Adonis's call that Government should undertake an inquiry into public sector executive pay.

"Students in my constituency are paying increasingly high tuition fees, with many families helping their children out with the costs associated with going to university," he said.

"Vice-chancellors pay needs to be set within the context of value for money. And students take on excessive debt to get a good education, not to pay bloated executive pay."

Labour MP Mr Drew said he resigned from the position when he was previously an MP, but did not realise he had automatically been re-added when he was elected again in June.

"I don't even understand why MPs are on the court anyway, had I known I had been put back on I probably would have resigned again anyway, but I was approached by various people who felt very strongly about the salary of the vice-chancellor," he said.

"It is an outrageous sum of money when student debt is going through the roof."

Image caption Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell (left) is paid £451,000 a year for her role as vice-chancellor at Bath which Andrew Murrison (right) described as "eye-watering"

Conservative MP Andrew Murrison resigned earlier in August saying university bosses were "looking increasingly like a self-serving cartel".

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) watchdog is currently investigating whether the way pay is awarded is sufficiently transparent.

A university spokesman said: "We are providing HEFCE with all the information they have requested including in relation to meetings of University Court.

"The university does not intend to comment further on these matters until such time as HEFCE have concluded their investigation."

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

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