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Bath Uni spent £17k on a painting of their controversial former VC

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Bath University has been criticised for spending over £17,000 on a painting of their former vice-chancellor Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell.

 

The oil painting was unveiled last week in a ceremony attended by the university’s chancellor Prince Edward. It is reported to have cost at least £17,500 according to Somerset Live.

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One of the most contriversial Vice Chancellor's in the U.K., Professor Breakwell announced her retirement in 2018 and officially left her post last month following years of scrutiny regarding her bulging £468,000 salary, pay rises and luxurious job perks.

 

Benefits as Bath’s VC included a £3m grace-and-favour house in the city, a property now being sold, as well as first class travel.  Having been Bath’s VC since 2001, Professor Breakwell defended criticism into her pay and benefits in 2015 saying, "I’m worth it...I’ve been in the job a long time and you do tend to get increases over time in most jobs.

 

In 2016 Professor Breakwell received an 11% pay rise leading to Lord Adonis calling for an inquiry in the House of Lords into what he called a "serious controversy".

 

Despite Professor Breakwell previously insisting she was worth her large salary, critics were not satisfied. In fact, some pointed to the decline in applications to the university as being linked to the controversy surrounding her pay. Bath saw an 18.5% drop in applications from non-EU applicants for 2018 entry.

 

Even when announcing her retirement, Professor Breakwell continued to court controversy. Angry students protested against the “golden goodbye deal” she was given. The university paid off a £31,489 car loan for Professor Breakwell and she was granted a fully paid sabbatical before officially retiring in February 2019.

The purchase of this painting and a ceremony of its unveiling has only furthered tensions at a time when the university was moving on to a new chapter.

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