Socialist Worker

Student fees: six of the worst

Issue No. 1881

'Posh vice-chancellor types'. That was how the Guardian this week described the people behind Blair pushing for top-up fees for university students.

Vice-chancellors are the heads of British universities and a small group of them are the driving force behind the New Labour plan. Socialist Worker looks at six of the worst


Sykes is at Imperial College in London. He gets £242,000 a year.

His grisly record includes being chairman of multinational drug company GlaxoSmithKline. Under his leadership the company went to court in 2001 to stop South Africans receiving cheaper AIDS drugs.

Oxfam accused drug firms of 'conducting an undeclared war on the world's poorest countries'. Expensive drugs lead to the needless deaths of 11 million people every year. In 1999 Sykes pocketed over £3.5 million in salary and money from share deals.

Sykes wants to merge Imperial and University College London to create a super-elite university. This would then impose top-up fees of £10,500 a year for some courses.


Davies is at the London School of Economics. He used to head the bosses' CBI organisation, and has been deputy governor of the Bank of England.

He is also a former arms dealer-as director of arms firm GKN from 1989 to 1995. He 'regularly participates' in meetings of the World Economic Forum, where the world's bosses plan their free market policies.


Sterling is at Birmingham University, and chairs the Russell Group which organises the group of university chiefs pushing for top-up fees.

He says, 'I'm not worried about being called an elite group. What's wrong with being an elite-ie the best? A student who fails at the end of the first year helps nobody.'

He grabs over £190,000 a year for his Birmingham job. Throughout his career he has held senior academic posts in universities while working as a 'consultant and entrepreneur in the private sector'.


Campbell is at Nottingham University. He grabbed £149,000 in 2001.

Campbell accepted £3.8 million from British American Tobacco to set up a centre at the university.Campbell's close relationship with Kenneth Clarke, the local Tory MP and director of BAT, brokered this deal.

Swiss Re, a multinational insurance corporation, sponsors a professorship at the University of Nottingham Business School. Campbell was appointed to the Swiss Re board in 1999.


Grant is at University College London, grabbing £156,000 a year for his pains.

He is at the centre of the web that links business, top universities and government. He sits, unelected, on a host of powerful official government bodies-for which he pockets even more taxpayers' money.

They include the government's agriculture and environment biotechnology commission, the UK independent steering board for the public debate on genetically modified foods, and the standards committee of the Greater London Authority.


Edwards is at the University of Newcastle.

He pushed through a major £6 million cost-cutting exercise, slashing 150 jobs while jacking his own salary up by 33 percent to £155,000 a year.

He sent an e-mail out to all lecturers warning them not to use their classes or e-mails to discuss opposition to the war against Iraq. Edwards is also a non-executive director of the drugs company Celltech.

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Sat 13 Dec 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1881
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