Revelation of ex-Sussex VC’s pay out set to spark debate over “excessive vice-chancellor pay”

Michael Farthing received £230,000 when he left the university


The Times Higher Education revealed today that ex-Sussex vice-chancellor, Michael Farthing was given a £230,000 pay off in his final month in office.

The controversial VC stepped down in August 2016 after nine years of leading the university and received the payment "in lieu of notice on his departure".

Sussex's latest accounts show that Farthing was paid £252,000 in the month of August 2016, of which £249,000 was salary and £3,000 employer pension contributions.

A spokesperson for the University of Sussex said: "The University’s approach to senior staff remuneration continues to be open and transparent, and we take our governance responsibilities and sector compliance requirements very seriously.

“In the case of our former Vice-Chancellor, we met our contractual obligations to him and this has been clearly published in our annual financial accounts.”

The news of this pay off is likely to intensify the calls for an inquiry into ‘excessive’ vice-chancellor pay, following the revelation that Bath Spa's former VC was paid £808,000 last year.

In a House of Lords debate today, Labour peer Lord Adonis will call for an independent inquiry on “excessive vice-chancellor pay”, potentially led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Michael Farthing received much criticism over his time at Sussex, with many students protesting his massive quarter-of-a-million pay packages and swanky extra expenses at a time where parts of campus desperately needed to be updated and many staff were striking over pay cuts.

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In 2013, Farthing came under scrutiny for the handling of the 'Sussex Five', who were suspended for their involvment in a protest against the privatisation of campus catering services and plans to outsource estates and facilities services.

Farthing and the university were also criticised for failing to suspend lecturer, Lee Salter, following a domestic violence case against a student.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has previously warned universities about 'golden goodbyes' to vice-chancellors and Sussex’s payment is highly likely result in a further investigation.