292018Mar

Column: Questions asked over vice-chancellors’ pay

It has been a busy few weeks serving local residents and has included asking the Prime Minister in PMQs to confirm if university vice-chancellors’ salaries will be looked at in the recently announced review of post-18 education.

We recently interviewed a panel of university vice-chancellors as part of our work on the Education Select Committee, yet they failed to recognise the excessiveness of their salaries, despite being over more than the Prime Minister’s and mainly funded by the taxpayer and student debt.

This is even true of some of the poorest performing universities and I was disappointed that the panel seemed to miss the point of my questioning, instead insisting that their universities were more like corporations, even though they refuse to have key performance indicators or take ultimate responsibility for ensuring that their admission process is as accessible to all groups and minorities.

Currently lecturers and other staff get the raw end of the deal while the vice-chancellors get paid excessive amounts and many constituents have contacted me about the scandalous case in Bath.

I welcome the Prime Minister’s response, where she explained how the Office for Students will greatly increase transparency in the higher education system. In fact, I have subsequently questioned the director of the Office for National Statistics and pushed the case for the student voice and transparency in the review.

I am also outraged by the treatment of Frank Gardner and asked the Minster of Disabled People what action we are taking to ensure everyone has the opportunity to travel. Heathrow airport left Mr Gardner stuck on a plane for two hours because they had lost his wheelchair.

Last week I met Open Doors to discuss how we can work together to build on my other recent PMQ and question to the Department of International Development Secretary regarding the persecution of people for their religious beliefs in various countries overseas. I was also pleased to meet with and discuss localism and devolution with some of the Chippenham Town Council team in Parliament for lobby day.

In the constituency I have been holding a number of supermarket surgeries where residents can just come over and chat or explain a problem without an appointment, plus visiting schools to do democracy workshops. I have made a number of speeches and asked many questions on your behalf but space is limited here so for more information visit www.michelledonelan.com or call the office.

Over the Easter recess I have a back-to-back schedule lined up of surgeries, meet your MP, business and charity visits and lots more. If you have an issue, problem or an idea then contact 01249 704465, michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk or visit 61 New Road, Chippenham for an appointment.