UNIVERSITY of Bolton governors have justified the £300,000 plus pay package awarded to its Vice-Chancellor crediting Prof George Holmes for transforming the university from a failing institution into a successful establishment.

Under new rules, universities must justify the pay of their vice-chancellors in a bid to improve transparency following criticism of pay awards.

The University of Bolton penned a two page missive as part of its latest financial statement covering 2019/20.

It states that Prof Holmes leadership was was tested “as never before” in the face of challenges posed by the Cube fire and the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement details Prof Holmes pay package – including benefits and pension allowance in lieu of contributions – which has increased from £310,436 to £322,332.

The university’s renumeration committee stresses in the report that the actual salary increase for the vice-chancellor is in line with the national pay award, with the increase in pension contributions being out of the university’s hands.

It further adds that Prof Holmes, who has previously attracted national headlines for his pay package has not been awarded a bonus since 2016.

The financial record details a £4.6 million operating deficit driven “largely by pension accounting and exceptional costs”.

The statement lists the achievement of the university under the leadership of Prof Holmes, from turning around a failing institution into a successful university, to its response to The Cube fire and the pandemic.

The Cube Fire. Credit GMFRS

The Cube Fire. Credit GMFRS

It states: “This truly extraordinary and rapid progress has been achieved under the leadership of the President and Vice Chancellor who has overseen, together with his carefully and skilfully selected senior executive team, the transformation of a failing institution - which truly might have failed - into a successful university, which has brought so much to its students and to the town of Bolton. however been no ordinary year.

“The President and Vice-Chancellor’s leadership had been tested by two wholly unexpected challenges, each of which had, and one still has, the capacity seriously to destabilise the University: the Cube fire and Covid-19.”

The governors highlighted how the university led the way in making higher education institutions covid-secure.

Measures to make University of Bolton covid secure

Measures to make University of Bolton covid secure

The statement added: “.Arguably, this year had tested his leadership as never before. He had passed that test with skill, flexibility and real authority. The appraisal stated that the coming year may present even greater challenge; it was hard, however, to imagine anyone better to meet that, if it was to be so, than the present President and Vice Chancellor.”

It added that in the face of “vexatious harassment” Prof Holmes showed “resilience” and “that his performance and delivery continued to be as strong as ever in the face of significant external challenges”.