University repays £100,000 after principal’s pay-off

Aberdeen University returns £119,000 to the Scottish Funding Council after review.

A university has repaid more than £100,000 to the Scottish Funding Council after a retiring principal was awarded a six-figure pay-off.

Aberdeen University confirmed £119,000 had been handed back following a review of a settlement agreed with Professor Sir Ian Diamond.

Sir Ian, who first revealed his intention to retire in August 2017, received £61,000 in remuneration for 2017-18, as well as a £60,000 payment for “outplacement support”.

The SFC found that there was no “documented assessment of value for money”.

The university paid for two principals in 2018-19, it was noted, with Sir Ian on “gardening leave” while his successor was in place.

The institution stressed it had “co-operated fully” with the review and had accepted its main findings, as well as having repaid the money to the SFC.

Esther Roberton, senior governor at the university, said it would “reflect closely on the SFC’s suggestion that the university may wish to consider repaying additional monies or donating to a university learning-related activity”.

She added that an internal review of governance was being carried out.

Higher education minister Richard Lochhead said it was “clearly unacceptable that the University of Aberdeen did not meet its grant conditions, nor the highest standards of transparency that we expect of organisations which benefit from public funds”.

He said: “I do not believe the impact should be borne by the student or staff bodies and I therefore urge the university to consider whether it can recoup these funds.”

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