The new boss of a scandal-hit Welsh business school has faced serious questions about his salary, presided over the collapse of a universities’ governing body after 118 years, and was named in an official report into a controversial scheme involving public money, The Eye can reveal.
Marc Clement has seen his salary soar, during his time at the University of Wales bogus degrees were issued before it effectively abolished itself, and following an investigation into a high-tech scholarships project, a report recommended conditions ruling out potential personal benefit.
The independent report three years ago from the accountants Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) into the contentious Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarships (POWIS) project was commissioned by the audit committee of the University of Wales.
It sets out a point-by-point rebuttal of a decision by the Welsh Government to stop funding the project.
But in an internal draft copy seen by The Eye, it also stated: “3 specific individuals, Professor Marc Clement, xxx and xxx were identified and specified as having overlapping interests in 7 companies involved in the POWIS scheme”.
The report adds: “… there is a need to improve corporate governance procedures…”
Yet Professor Clement yesterday took up a new role as acting head of Swansea’s crisis-hit School of Management.
His salary has not been revealed although his predecessor Nigel Piercy received a package of at least £165,000 as disclosed by The Eye.
“Everyone wonders how Marc Clement got the job.
“He has support but this information is extremely disturbing.
“Although anything is better after Piercy”, one academic source told us.
An internal email to staff from College Officer, Emma Lydiard-Jenkins, by the university registrar Raymond Ciborowski, and seen by The Eye, said: “The Vice-Chancellor has appointed Professor Marc Clement as Acting Head of the College with effect from Monday 27th July.
“Professor Clement, a Vice President (this title has been questioned by commentators) of the University, will be working with colleagues in the College to build upon its top 30 position and to take advantage of all the opportunities arising from the imminent relocation of the School to the Bay Campus.”
An official statement from the university to The Eye stated: “We can confirm that Professor Marc Clement is Acting Head of the College with effect from Monday 27th July.
“We aren’t making any other comment.”
In July 2012 it was confirmed that Professor Clement had returned to Swansea after exercising an ‘option’ to return following the debacle at the University of Wales.
Swansea university’s School of Management endured two tumultuous years under the leadership of Nigel Piercy, with events exposed by The Eye, before his resignation was finally announced on Friday.
Professor Piercy’s wife Nikala Lane remains at the school, as does his son Niall, although he has been suspended, as we disclosed.
Allegations surfaced that the school was run “like a dictatorship”, a stream of academics left, and an investigation into the controversy was conducted by a leading lawyer on Swansea university’s council, Sir Roderick Evans QC, as revealed by The Eye.
Yet now there are deep concerns that academics at the school may have “jumped from the frying pan into the fire”.
Serious questions have been raised about the salary for Professor Clement.
His pay rose from £84,284 in 2007/8 to £139,000 in 2009/10 while his workload increased from just four to five days a week.
It was £140,150 the following year.
He was also paid a ‘discretionary honorarium’ of £10,000 in 2010-11, a freedom of information request showed, before his present salary.
At the time his earlier pay was revealed, queries were posed about the increase.
An assembly member, Plaid Cymru’s Lindsay Whittle, said: “The public will be baffled that the former vice chancellor should have received a rise in his basic salary given the controversy which surrounded the university during his tenure.”
Controversy over high salaries at the school have hit the headlines before, after The Eye revealed Nigel Piercy was paid more than the Welsh First Minister.
But Professor Clement’s role in other past schemes has also proved highly contentious.
The POWIS project is one.
This University of Wales project aimed to place students in hi-tech companies to do commercially-focused research.
But three years ago it was revealed the Welsh Government would end funding and suspend the European Union element.
POWIS had successfully applied for £5 million in European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) backing – via the Welsh Government’s Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).
The University of Wales had committed £6 million to the project from its own resources – including an element from private sector backers.
But in a statement to AMs the Business Minister, Edwina Hart confirmed that WEFO was now working with the university to achieve a “managed closure of the project” while also asking the then new vice-chancellor, Medwyn Hughes, to instigate an independent assessment of POWIS.
Professor Clement’s role at the now-discredited University of Wales has also been questioned.
It was founded in 1893 and provided an umbrella organisation for many Higher Education institutions, but effectively cast itself into oblivion after ‘merging’ with the university of Trinity Saint David’s.
The university also validated degrees, which became a huge money-making enterprise.
In 2000-01, validation brought in just under a third of the university’s income.
Three years later, they were validating 20 organisations in the UK and 55 overseas, which generated more than £3 million a year, nearly 40 per cent of their income.
But problems were picked up by the Qualiy Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in reports into specific overseas colleges in Spain (2000), Italy (2004), Russia (2007) and Malaysia (2010).
However, in all these cases, the agency said it was confident in the partnerships, subject to certain issues being ironed out.
Nonetheless, criticism from the media and politicians intensified.
In November 2010, BBC Wales screened an episode of their TV current affairs series Week In Week Out which claimed that Fazley Yaakob, a pop star and head of Fazley International College, a University of Wales partner in Malaysia, held bogus degrees.
Following a second BBC investigation, the vice-chancellors of Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor and Glamorgan universities – known collectively as the St David’s Day Group – called for an end to the University of Wales.
Leighton Andrews, then Welsh education minister, said the university should be given a “decent burial”.
He tweeted that Warren Gatland, the successful Welsh rugby union coach, could “run the university in his spare time”.
Profits from the University of Wales’ validation model increased by 610 per cent over a decade without pausing for breath during the recession.
Perhaps Professor Clement will repeat this kind of success at Swansea university’s management school.
Inclement part II will be published next Tuesday.