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Inquiry Report: the University of Aberdeen

15 Jul 2020

 

The Scottish Charity Regulator has published the findings of its inquiry into the University of Aberdeen (SC013863). 

We opened an inquiry into the University of Aberdeen (‘the University’) on 10 July 2019 following liaison with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Our concerns related to statements in the University’s 2018 Annual Accounts regarding substantial settlement payments made to the former Principal in connection with his retirement.

Our inquiry sought to establish whether, in reaching and making the settlement payments, the charity trustees (members of the University Court) met their duty to act in the interests of the University and with the care and diligence that it is reasonable to expect of a person who is managing the affairs of another person.
Our inquiry found evidence that the charity trustees were faced with an urgent need to address a potentially difficult situation in the academic leadership of the University in the summer of 2017. Nevertheless, the level of care and diligence that was exercised by the charity trustees who were members of the Remuneration Committee (a sub-committee of Court) in reaching a settlement with the Principal fell below the required standard in a number of respects detailed in our report. 

We consider this amounted to a breach by the charity trustees who were members of the Remuneration Committee of their trustee duty to act in the interests of the charity. In terms of the 2005 Act a breach of this duty is to be treated as misconduct in the administration of the University.

While OSCR considered taking formal action we have concluded that it is not necessary or proportionate to do so.  We have taken into account measures by the present charity trustees to put into practice recommendations resulting from this report and a previous report from the SFC, and changes among the charity trustees of the University since the events in question.

Read the report here.