Vice Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands came under fire from students over a range of issues this evening at Vice Chancellor’s Question Time.
Sir Langlands was questioned on a range of hot topics from his pay package to the future of Healthcare courses.
One student, Emma, asked over social media why the University continues to receive funding from arms companies. The VC admitted that these are “big, important ethical questions” but largely defended the relationship, saying “technologies used in the defence industry might also be used in the space industry […] We do the science, it’s hard then to decide who gets it.”
Another contributor questioned the disparity between Sir Alan’s wage and that of other university staff. He assured the audience that he has indicated to the University council that he does not want a pay increase when his salary is reviewed in August but emphasised his 25 years of experience in the universities and healthcare sectors. He added: “There is an argument to be had about why this job is well paid.”
On the ongoing issue of the living wage not being paid to contracted staff, Sir Langlands said: “When we come to review contracts we will certainly take into account the living wage”
Former PhD student Sanaz Raji briefly disrupted the event when she repeatedly questioned the Vice Chancellor about the University’s treatment of her and other international students. Sir Langlands replied that it was “inappropriate to comment” but that “the university takes all student complaints very seriously”.
Welfare officer Charlotte Warner raised the future of several courses in the School of Healthcare. The VC assured students that the University is close to an agreement about Pharmacy and that the issue with Social Work is also soluble, however he admitted that Counselling and Psychotherapy were proving the “most difficult” to resolve. He added: “I have been impressed with the assertive and dignified conduct of Healthcare students, which has had more of an impact on me than the action of trade unions.”
Incoming Equality and Diversity officer Gemma Turner brought up proposed government cuts to disabled students’ allowances, to which the VC responded “We would bust a gut to find ways of maintaining our own services; this is something I feel strongly about.”
On a lighter note, Sir Alan Langlands said that his greatest achievement in his first seven months in the role has been “surviving” but also “meeting people across campus to understand the issues that need to be tackled” and winning grants for data analytics.