The Socialist 6 December 2017 |
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Demonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation
Socialist Students marching for free education, 2016, photo Isai Priya (Click to enlarge)
Tom Baldwin, South West Socialist Party organiser
"Students and workers, unite and fight!" was chanted by hundreds of students as they marched around Bath University campus.
Before the demonstration even gathered, the joint campaign of students and staff had already won a significant victory.
Glynis Breakwell, the country's highest paid university vice-chancellor, announced her resignation on 28 November.
She had attracted anger for her £468,000 pay packet which saw her earn more than the lowest paid university worker's annual salary in just 12 days.
She also had a rent-free house paid for by the university. But not content with that, she had agreed to an £18,000 pay rise this year while most university staff have faced a 1% pay cap for years.
She had also claimed £20,000 in expenses, including £2 for a packet of biscuits, leading to chants of "books not biscuits".
While the lively protest was celebrating 'Glexit', for the demonstrating students and the staff joining them it was too little, too late.
Her resignation deal will see her being paid up until February 2019, pocketing another £600,000 from the uni.
This was about more than just one person. High executive pay reflects the marketisation of universities, making them more about business than education.
Speakers addressing the demonstration explained how the out-of-touch vice chancellor was a lightning rod for anger on fees, cuts and high rents.
Results of a survey were announced that showed 87% of students had no confidence in the vice chancellor and 86% had no confidence in the whole university governance.
Around 100 students entered a university building, occupying it until the vice chancellor had left a few hours later.
While university bosses may have hoped Breakwell's resignation would mark an end to the saga, they have now been forced to concede they will listen to the campaign's demand and look at further changes.
Socialist Students is calling for the protests to be spread. Since 2011 the pay of 44 university vice chancellors has increased by over 20%.