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Aberdeen Uni forced to repay £119,000 after investigation into principal pay off

The Higher Education Minister called the case ‘clearly unacceptable’

Aberdeen University has repaid grant money to the SFC after it was found that a retirement pay off for the former principle was “unacceptable”.

In June, an investigation was launched into a £280,000 payment made to former Aberdeen principal Sir Ian Diamond.

Now, the University has been forced to repay £119,000 of grant money to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

This follows a review looking into the pay off given to Sir Diamond after his retirement in June 2017.

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Sir Ian Diamond only started his 12 month notice period in July 2018, but there were questions as to whether his retirement agreement obeyed the 12-month rule.

An investigation was prompted after the SFC claimed financial statements did not align with their understanding of the principal’s retirement and were unsatisfied with the University’s response.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said the case was “clearly unacceptable”.

He went on to say: “The University of Aberdeen did not meet its grant conditions, nor the highest standards of transparency that we expect of organisations which benefit from public funds.

“I do not believe the impact should be borne by the student or staff bodies”.

In a comment from senior governor Esther Robertson, the University has said it “has co-operated fully with this review, welcomes the publication of the report, accepts its main findings and has already repaid the £119,000 to the Scottish Funding Council.”

When asked if the University had asked Sir Diamond to return the money, Robertson said they had not, despite pressure from the minister to do so.

Robertson also said: “It may not be appropriate to ask him for it back but that’s something we’ll give very serious thought to.”

Sir Ian Diamond has not commented on the report or its findings.