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David Shepherd – ‘stepped down’

The fallout is growing from a crisis at a Welsh university which has attracted bad headlines over an expensive house for the man in charge, as a senior official stands down, The Eye can reveal.

David Shepherd left his post as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) at Bangor University, after the institution made news over a ‘grace-and-favour’ house for the Vice-Chancellor (VC) John Hughes,
and Professor Shepherd has also lost his role on the university’s ‘Financial Sustainability Board’ after it was wound up, as Bangor put it “following the achievement of its major outcomes”.
John Hughes – ‘grace-and-favour’

But controversy has also raged about a ‘financial review’ which could have led to the loss of 170 posts, although Bangor said it would try to make these losses non-compulsory.

Officials at Bangor stressed to The Eye that anyway: “the savings were achieved without compulsory redundancies”.

The moves follow a series of fraught staff meetings where angry questions were posed about the lifestyle of the VC, as well as his house (which included thousands of pounds worth of new furnishings) – even though Bangor university is one of the smallest institutions of its kind in the UK and
Money, money, money

Professor Hughes’ perk came on top of a £245,000 salary.

The house, on the banks of the Cadnant River, cost £475,000 in 2010 and had £267,000 of renovations with £16,000 of Laura Ashley furnishings that included £700 cushions.

It offered a picturesque garden in an acre of land with a conservatory and library.

A spokesman for Bangor said at the time the scandal hit the media: “After being purchased for £475,000, (the house) was independently valued at £750,000 in 2011 and, like other assets owned by the university, it could be sold in the future if the university wishes.”

House on the attractive River Cadnant

The university has also embarked on an extraordinary link-up with a Chinese university.

In October 2014 it was reported that hundreds of new students had enrolled at Bangor College China (BCC), following a ‘partnership’ between Bangor University and Central South University of Forestry and Technology (CSUFT) in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province.

 

Changsa’s Central South University of Forestry and Technology (CSUFT) – a ‘partnership’

Prof Hughes said at the time: “Bangor College China is strategically important to Bangor University”.

But foreign ventures for Welsh universities have not always ended well.

At Aberystwyth University opening an expensive campus on the holiday island of Mauritius proved a costly mistake, and it was closed down.

in December the governing body of Aberystwyth decided it would “not enrol further intakes of students” at Mauritius from March 2018.

Aberystwyth University’s Mauritius campus ‘madness’

The Eye showed how furious staff at the university had condemned the Mauritius campus as a “complete waste of money”.

The Plaid Cymru Assembly Member (AM) Simon Thomas, himself a former Aberystwyth student, also waded into the row.

He said opening it was “not a wise move”, and a former Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth condemned the decision to create it in the first place.

Simon Thomas, AM – ‘not a wise move’

Prof Derec Llwyd Morgan, who ran the university from 1994 to 2004, said the figures showed it was a bad decision to go to a far-flung country, and that the whole enterprise was “madness”.

Yet we showed how staff recruitment there was continuing.

Earlier this year we disclosed how the university said it wanted a “Research Assistant (One Year)” at the Mauritius campus.

The advertisement stated the assistant would be on an “Employee Law Expert System” at the campus, with the full time post open to Mauritian nationals only.

Expensive furnishings as well as grace-and-favour houses have long been a feature of the lifestyles of those at the very top of universities.

Elizabeth Treasure – by name and nature

Elizabeth Treasure, the VC of Aberystwyth University, remains a controversial figure like her contentious predecessor, April McMahon.

When Professor Treasure was at Cardiff University she was dogged by issues over her office furniture revealed by The Eye.

In May 2015 we showed how the cost for furnishing and equipping her room was more than £3,220 greater than the money spent on the office of her superior, the VC, Colin Riordan.

Steve Chan who was employed by Swansea University – another crook exposed by The Eye

But the entire university sector in Wales has long been embroiled in controversy reported exclusively by The Eye. 

In January we revealed the deep discontent of academic staff at Swansea University, which employed a fraudster called Steve Chan who had been jailed in America and exposed by us.

We showed how Swansea University had employed Chan on a contract at the university’s contentious School of Management. 

Yet routine checks would have shown that Chan had been imprisoned by a court in Boston for four years and three months, and ordered to pay more than $12,500,000 in compensation.

Swansea University did not like answering questions

But as the scandal unfolded, officials there did not like answering queries about Chan.

Questions were also raised about a table showing the man in charge of Swansea University offered ‘good value’ with a salary of £251,000 a year.

Richard Davies – ‘good’ value despite employing a crook

In The Sunday Times Good University Guide, the university was ninth for ‘low’ VC pay while coming in 36th in their table overall.

One angry staff member there told us at the time: “These figures are ridiculous.

“How can anyone defend giving him (Richard Davies, VC of Swansea University) a salary like he gets, when we have employed a crook?”.

Griff Rhys Jones – ‘a farce’

Cardiff has not been immune to controversy either.

Cardiff University was involved in a farcical scandal when comedian Griff Rhys Jones was pictured in his ceremonial robes just before he was to be named Chancellor, but then pulled out after senior staff said the post should be offered to someone else.

Cardiff Met – following a ‘fine’ tradition

We have also been told of major concerns among some staff at Cardiff Metropolitan University as the institution embarks on a massive expansion.

So perhaps Bangor University is only following in a fine tradition among senior academic institutions in Wales.

 

 

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