What does a Vice Chancellor do anyway? Editor Sammy Siddique analyses the role of a Vice Chancellor with consideration of the considerable pay rise awarded to Vice Chancellors across the country.

Does the average students actually know what it is that the Vice Chancellor does? Before a bit of research, all I knew was that he was there to shake your hand at your Graduation Ceremony that is.  For that matter, do the students of Swansea University even know who he is? I asked a few students if they knew what the Vice Chancellor actually did:

“I just know that he’s the big cheese.” – Kirsty Rowles, Postgraduate

“I’ve had a look at his profile and I’m still unsure on what his role is.” – Matthew Moore, 2nd Year

“Um not really, I’m not even sure who it is!” – Katrine Salomonsen, 1st Year

I suppose he’s a figure head of the University’s and should represent and protect the interests of both students and staff.” – Cara Rogers, 3rd Year

For those of you still in the dark, Swansea University’s Vice Chancellor is Professor Richard B Davies.  If you research him on the University website, you may find that he quite a learned man and has studied a wide range of subjects from Medicine to Social Science.  What it doesn’t tell you is what he actually does.

Professor Richard B Davies

With the fee cap lifting to triple its previous amount and Universities subject to cuts left right and centre, it’s easy to see why there is uproar at reports that Vice Chancellors across the UK have seen a pay rise in recent years. If Universities are being forced to cut departments, then why are Vice Chancellors still paid so much?

More than 80 heads of Universities around the country are now on par or being paid more than the Prime Minister himself.  Can we really justify the rises of their salaries when the students themselves know nothing of their existence or their roles in “running” their Universities? Surely, being a figurehead means that they would, with the best of intentions, look out for and care for its staff and students and the well-being of the institute itself? In which case, the fact that we have not once heard our Vice Chancellor speak out against the fees or the cuts indicates that he is just not fulfilling this role.

It seems to me that these Vice Chancellors are nothing more than the CEO’s of large companies, only interested in bettering themselves and stuffing their pockets with the money left over from cuts and expensive fees.   What is it that they are being paid to do exactly?  Has anyone seen this Vice Chancellor of ours roaming around campus, has anyone seen him interacting with the students, has anyone seen him involved in any of the protests against the things that are affecting the very place he is meant to be running?

According to The Guardian, not all Vice Chancellors took the money for themselves.  Professor Eric Thomas at Bristol donated £100,000 to the University.  So at least some have the heart and sense to step back and think, “Hey, I could do something really great with this money.”

As a student paying through the nose for my education I would like someone to prove in good sense that their job is worth the salary that they are being paid for.  If we were able to gain insight into what these Vice Chancellors actually do with their time and money, then they wouldn’t be such easy scapegoats for embittered students who feel like promises have been thrown in their faces.

What does a Vice Chancellor do?  Who knows.

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