Chief ex­ec­u­tive of de­funct Eng­lish reg­u­la­tor paid £178K on early exit

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - John.mor­gan@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

Madeleine Atkins, the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Fund­ing Coun­cil for Eng­land, was paid £178,000 on the re­main­der of her con­tract when the or­gan­i­sa­tion ceased to ex­ist.

He­fce’s op­er­a­tions ended on 31 March and it has been su­per­seded by the Of­fice for Stu­dents and Re­search Eng­land.

Se­nior pay in higher ed­u­ca­tion has be­come a high-pro­file is­sue in the me­dia and He­fce, as then reg­u­la­tor of the Eng­lish sec­tor, is­sued its own guid­ance to in­sti­tu­tions on sev­er­ance pay and re­mu­ner­a­tion of se­nior staff in June 2017.

Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion un­der­stands that at He­fce’s fi­nal board meet­ing on 9 March, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s chair, Sir Tim Melville-Ross, an­nounced to board mem­bers that an agree­ment, “agreed and ap­proved” by min­is­ters, had been reached with Pro­fes­sor Atkins – cit­ing a fig­ure in the re­gion of £280,000.

Sir Tim is thought to have told the board that there were two is­sues: that Pro­fes­sor Atkins was due eight months of pay­ments on the re­main­der of her con­tract, and that there was an ex­ist­ing agree­ment in place about the sub­se­quent re­newal of her con­tract.

But it has emerged sub­se­quently that Pro­fes­sor Atkins has de­clined to take a £67,250 “re­dun­dancy pay­ment” that com­prised part of the fig­ure in the re­gion of £280,000, in­stead opt­ing for it to be paid to char­ity. How­ever, a £177,728 pay­ment in lieu of salary for the re­main­der of her con­tract has gone ahead. THE un­der­stands that the re­main­der of the larger fig­ure cited at the board meet­ing is made up of bonus pay­ments to Pro­fes­sor Atkins for the years 2016-17 and 2017- 18 to­talling around £35,000.

Asked by THE about the de­tails of Pro­fes­sor Atkins’ pack­age, Sir Tim said in a state­ment that her role as He­fce chief ex­ec­u­tive “ended on 31 March 2018, be­fore the end of her con­tract”.

He con­tin­ued: “In ac­cor­dance with her em­ploy­ment rights she re­ceived a pay­ment of £177,728 in lieu of her ba­sic salary for the no­tice pe­riod 1 April 2018 to 31 De­cem­ber 2018. This pay­ment was agreed and ap­proved by the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion fol­low­ing HM Trea­sury guide­lines for such cir­cum­stances and was sub­ject to nor­mal tax de­duc­tions. Pro­fes­sor Atkins was also en­ti­tled to a re­dun­dancy pay­ment of £67,250 which she has de­clined to take and asked for the pay­ment to be made to char­ity.

“These de­tails, and the de­tails of Pro­fes­sor Atkins’ salary in 2016-17 and 2017-18, will be in­cluded in the He­fce an­nual re­port and ac­counts to be pub­lished later this year.

“Pro­fes­sor Atkins has agreed to make her­self avail­able to pro­vide sup­port and ad­vice to the Of­fice for Stu­dents and Re­search Eng­land re­gard­ing any legacy is­sues re­lat­ing to He­fce for a pe­riod of two years. She has also been in dis­cus­sion with the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion re­gard­ing how her ex­ten­sive ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence can con­tinue to be made avail­able.”

THE un­der­stands that there is a “mit­i­ga­tion clause” in the agree­ment with Pro­fes­sor Atkins, stat­ing that she will make re­pay­ments to the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion on her pay­ment in lieu of salary if she finds another per­ma­nent role in 2018.

Pro­fes­sor Atkins was paid a salary of £263,865 in 2016-17 – although this in­cluded “non-con­sol­i­dated pay of £27,500 which Pro­fes­sor Atkins do­nated to char­ity” – ac­cord­ing to He­fce’s an­nual re­port.

He­fce’s an­nual re­port states that Pro­fes­sor Atkins was “ap­pointed for a five-year term which be­gan in Jan­uary 2014 and her con­tract stip­u­lates a six- month no­tice pe­riod”. It adds: “Other than the pos­si­bil­ity of pay­ment in lieu of no­tice, there are no ex­plicit con­trac­tual pro­vi­sions for com­pen­sa­tion for early ter­mi­na­tion of the chief ex­ec­u­tive.”

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