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Over £500,000 spent by University on senior recruitment fees since 2017

Expenditure included agency fees and advertising costs for recruitment on 16 occasions


by Anttoni James Numminen


Image courtesy of Aedan Brennan.



Between May 2017 and June 2021, the University of Aberdeen (UoA) spent over half a million pounds on senior recruitment services provided by private consultancy firm Saxton Bampfylde.


£499,000 was spent on agency fees and another £33,000 went into advertising costs, equating to over £532,000.


The information was obtained by The Gaudie through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request this summer.


Since May 2017, Saxton Bampfylde has provided recruitment services to the University on 16 separate occasions.

These have included recruitment for two senior governors (most recently Julie Ashworth), independent members of court, a Clinical Chair in Oncology and various other roles. (Full list on gaudie.co.uk/news).


The costs were divided into two categories, ‘agency fees’ and ‘advertising costs’ with the former accounting for most of the expenditure.


The recruitment for the positions of Director of External Relations and Director of Advancement were the costliest, with Saxton Bampfylde charging £42,240 per position in agency fees.


Caption: Screengrab of FoI request - full list of recruitment services provided by Saxton Bampfylde.


The least costly role advertised was for Vice-Principal – Regional Engagement & Regional Recovery (£8,400 in agency fees), however, it was still being advertised when the FoI request was submitted in June 2021.


At the time, Professor Richard Wells had been appointed to the position on an interim basis while Saxton Bamfylde was recruiting for the role.


However, three months later Wells is still listed on the University website as holding that position.


The Gaudie asked the University whether it considered the large sums used to have provided value for money and whether it might not have used a local or cheaper alternative.


“The University is committed to investment in its staff to help fulfil our strategic ambitions, and this includes the appointment of high-quality candidates to senior roles within the organisation."

Speaking to The Gaudie, a University spokesperson said: “The University is committed to investment in its staff to help fulfil our strategic ambitions, and this includes the appointment of high-quality candidates to senior roles within the organisation.


“The appointment of recruitment consultants adds value for roles where normal advertising processes are likely to generate a limited pool of applicants, and we use a sector-wide procurement framework that ensures efficiency savings are made.”


Saxton Bampfylde was also contacted for comment.

The “executive consultancy firm” which has offices in London and Edinburgh describes itself as “the leading search and leadership advisory firm for values.”


Other positions advertised on their website range from Bursar at the Cambridge Union to previously having advertised the position of Director General of Britain’s foreign intelligence service, MI6.