Vice Chancellor Nigel Thrift has been given a £92,000 farewell pay package, in what Warwick University’s Student Union has called an “astonishingly inept and out-of-touch” move.
The SU have started a petition “Condemning Nigel Thrift’s farewell pay-package” on Change.org in the early afternoon on Thursday with over 450 supporters so far.
A three-man remuneration committee decided to award Thrift the voluntary gift. Allegedly, £42,000 “benchmark[s] the sector average” and was awarded for his achievements. The additional £50,000 was gifted to Thrift for the relationships he developed in Monash and California.
The SU has stated that the sum seems to have been “plucked from the air by three individuals” and have also raised the issue that no students were consulted to represent student voice on this decision.
However, the University has responded that the remuneration committee has “conducted its business in line with the previous norm and in accordance with what has been recommended practice in the sector.”
Additionally, the chair of council at the university is in the process of reviewing the remuneration committee, in particular looking at its size and how it should operate in the future.
The university have also added that the council will consider whether they should include SU members, but believes ultimately the committee should endeavour “retain complete objectivity”.
Nigel Thrift has delivered on the results for our University
Alex Shaw, third-year Politics and Economics student
The final amount awarded was decided through the consultation of information including published surveys and data of comparative performance of Warwick in comparison to other universities over the past nine and a half years.
Nigel Thrift has donated £50,000 towards student bursaries, the SU has called this “commendable” but also a “disingenuous …[and] hollow PR gesture”.
Also, the SU has claimed that the additional £42,000 “puts paid to the long-stated defence of Professor Thrift’s own base-salary having been frozen for 3 years, which was used to justify a comparable freeze for University staff”.
SU president Isaac Leigh has added: “This shows complete contempt for students struggling to pay for their education and living costs, as well as staff at this University.
I find it appalling that money which could have gone towards either higher staff wages (because they are paid a pittance) or three students’ three-year degree courses
Halimah Manan, second-year History and Sociology student
“The money could have paid for bursaries, mental health workers, or other much-needed causes. Instead, it has been given arbitrarily to somebody who we can surely all agree does not need any more money.
“The message it sends out is absolutely awful.”
The reception to this by students has been mixed, however.
Some have agreed with the SU, such as second-year History and Sociology student Halimah Manan, who said: “I find it appalling that money which could have gone towards either higher staff wages (because they are paid a pittance) or three students’ three-year degree courses, has instead gone towards Thrift.”
That Thrift then went on to spend part of this money in donation doesn’t negate the fact that he didn’t deserve any of that money and it was not his money to give or use at all.”
Other students have disagreed with this view, with second-year History student Alastair Brook saying, “Why shouldn’t he have a farewell gift? Wouldn’t even buy you a shed in Croydon these days!”
More in depth, third-year Politics and Economics student Alex Shaw stated that he “believe[s] in results driven pay, and believe[s] that, along with I am sure a majority of students, that Nigel Thrift has delivered on the results for our University.”
I take serious issue with an SU that demands to be on the committee deciding the pay of the Vice Chancellor, when they are mandated by a tiny part of the student body, whilst professing to speak on behalf of all students?!”