Policy Proposals

The latest round of policy proposals is now live, until 11:00 on Thursday 7 December.

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Referendum Outcome

The Board of Trustees of The SU held a referendum to determine student opinion on the current situation regarding the University’s  leadership and governance in relation to senior management pay.

Statement 1 - I have no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor Given the VC’s announcement that she would step down from her post next year, the Board of Trustees decided to suspended formal voting on this referendum at 2pm on Wednesday 29 November. There is therefore no formal result to the referendum on this statement.

Statement 2 – I have no confidence in the University Governance in relation to Council and Remuneration Committee In total, 2,748 students voted in the referendum on this statement.

At the close of the referendum, the votes cast were:

  • FOR 2,371
  • AGAINST 151
  • ABSTAIN 226

This result of the referendum on this statement is that it is CARRIED.

The outcome will be used to determine The SU’s policy on the issue of pay and governance ahead of the University Council meeting on Thursday the 30 November at which these important issues will be discussed.

View a full timeline for the referendum.

Where has this issue come from?

At the February 2017 meeting of Court (a statutory body representing the interests of the University's internal and external constituencies), a motion was filed "That Court makes representation to Council that it is concerned at the lack of transparency and accountability of the Remuneration Committee and the decisions the Remuneration Committee has made in the past year". This was in response to the Vice-Chancellor receiving an 11% increase in pay, totalling £451,000 in 2016 and making her the highest paid Vice-chancellor in the country. The motion fell (30 votes for to 33 against), with multiple people who sit on the Remuneration Committee as well as staff for whom that committee sets the pay, voting on the motion with no conflicts of interest declared..

Former education minister and architect of the student fee system, Lord Adonis, singled out the VC in a speech in the House of Lords on Thursday 13 July, saying: “The only example the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath is setting to her staff is one of greed”. Lord Adonis then filed an official complaint with the Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) asking them to investigate university remuneration and governance.

The HEFCE report raised concerns on the conduct of the Court meeting, citing that some members should have abstained from the vote and declared a conflict of interest. Had they done so the motion would have passed. HEFCE also raised other governance concerns such as a lack of standing orders for Court and the transparency of decisions taken by Remuneration Committee.

It has also been revealed that the Vice-Chancellor recieved another pay rise for the 2016-17 academic year of 3.9% increasing her pay by £17,000, now totalling more than £468,000. 

View a more in-depth background

Why is this referendum happening?

The discussions around the Vice-Chancellor's pay and University governance in respect to Remuneration Committee and Council have been attracting increased national interest, with multiple reports and articles appearing in national media. HEFCE have also produced a report into the University's governance with a series of recommendations.

In light of all this, and ahead of the Council meeting on Thursday 30 November, The SU wants a definitive answer from students on how they feel. Do you have confidence in the Vice-Chancellor and University governance?

Why gather student opinion through referendum?

These are very serious issues and the SU Officers need you to tell them what position you wish them to take.

In order for The SU to represent you effectively, we need to know how you feel.

This mechanism allows all students to input into the future direction of the University on these two important issues.

What will happen as a result of this referendum?

In the short term, it will decide how your SU Officers vote at the meeting of Council to be held on Thursday 30 November.

It will also give a clear measure of what students think on this issue and help inform The SU on what to do next.

What is governance?

"The way that organisations or countries are managed at the highest level, and the systems for doing this."

Cambridge English Dictionary

Charity Governance Code

(The University of Bath is a registered charity)

Charity Governance Code

  1. Organisational purpose
    The board is clear about the charity’s aims and ensures that these are being delivered effectively and sustainably.
  2. Leadership
    Every charity is led by an effective board that provides strategic leadership in line with the charity’s aims and values.
  3. Integrity
    The board acts with integrity, adopting values and creating a culture which help achieve the organisation’s charitable purposes. The board is aware of the importance of the public’s confidence and trust in charities, and trustees undertake their duties accordingly.
  4. Decision-making, risk and control
    The board makes sure that its decision-making processes are informed, rigorous and timely and that effective delegation, control and risk assessment and management systems are set up and monitored.
  5. Board effectiveness
    The board works as an effective team, using the appropriate balance of skills, experience, backgrounds and knowledge to make informed decisions. Charity Governance Code for larger charities 4
  6. Diversity
    The board’s approach to diversity supports its effectiveness, leadership and decision-making.
  7. Openness and accountability
    The board leads the organisation in being transparent and accountable. The charity is open in its work, unless there is good reason for it not to be.

Charity Commission

The 7 Principles of Public Life

What is University Council?

Council is the governing body of the University. It is responsible for the University's finances and investments and for oversight of the estate and buildings. Subject to the statutory powers of Senate with respect to academic matters, Council has a general responsibility for the conduct of all the University's affairs.

What is the HEFCE report?

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) recently published a report on its enquiry into the governance surrounding senior management’s pay at the University of Bath – saying that issues had “caused damage” to the reputation of the University.

The 21-page report highlighted 13 recommendations for improvement, specifically in connection with the University’s remuneration committee and the conduct of the University’s Court.

What is Remuneration Committee?

Remuneration Committee establishes the pay and remuneration received by all senior managers of the University. Until recently, the Vice-Chancellor was also a member of this committee.


What is a referendum?

A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is invited to decide upon a particular issue.

In this case the "entire electorate" is all members of the University of Bath Students' Union, i.e. all registered students at the University of Bath who have not "opted out" of Students' Union membership may vote in this referendum.

In accordance with our constitution, (Bye-law 5, Referendum) to determine the outcome of this referendum:

  • a quorum of 5% of Members is required to validate the referendum; and
  • a simple majority of those voting is required.