• The Gaudie

Revealed: Scottish Funding Council's damning report into Diamond Scandal

The University of Aberdeen’s former principal was paid 15 times more than the average wage of its employees during the 2017-18 period


By Anttoni James Numminen & Harry Keightley


Photograph courtesy of UoA.



The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has ordered the University of Aberdeen to repay £119,000 of a payment made to a former Principal.


Following an investigation by the Funding Council into a £280,000 payment made to former Principal, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, the University of Aberdeen has been ordered to pay back £119,000 of the £70m grant it received from the Council.


In total, Professor Sir Ian Diamond was paid £601,000, including a salary of £282,000, pension contributions of £30,000, and contractual notice period payment and related expenses amounting to £289,000 to cover his ‘gardening leave’ for the 2018-19 period.


In a report published on 18 February, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) concludes that Professor Sir Ian Diamond received his full Principal’s salary whilst “having significantly fewer duties and responsibilities than those constituting the full role of Principal” in 2017-18.


Diamond received his full Principal’s salary whilst “having significantly fewer duties and responsibilities than those constituting the full role of Principal” in 2017-18.

It also states that during the 2018-19 financial year “the University incurred the cost of two Principals” and questioned whether this was “value for money”.


The SFC has ordered the University to pay back £119,000 and to undertake “an externally facilitated review of its governance procedures and culture.” The University has insisted that the repayment of this amount will not affect staff and students.


The University had claimed that Professor Diamond was available “to provide support to the University if required” during his period of gardening leave. However, the SFC report states it found no evidence of support being sought from Prof Diamond.


“We are unaware of any advice being sought from the former Principal following his move to gardening leave on 1 August 2018.”

The SFC also concludes that an additional payment of £60,000, which was made to a third party for “outplacement support” to Diamond in October 2017, should have been included in the 2017-18 accounts. The University has not clarified why outplacement support, usually used in order to help find an employee alternative work, was provided to an individual that had stated he was retiring nor why it was undisclosed in the accounts for the 2017-18 financial year.


The Aberdeen University and College Union described the report as presenting a “picture of shady dealing,” and notes that “it could not have come at a more ironic moment as ordinary staff across the University prepare for another round of strike action.”


UCU Scotland representative, Mary Senior, told The Gaudie: "It’s galling for staff, at a time they are being forced to take strike action for fair pay, to see university principals receiving unwarranted and unjustifiable payoffs. The funding council has shown that what happened at Aberdeen was entirely unacceptable.


“This decision to force the university to review its procedures and pay the money back should act as a warning shot for other universities and principals."

The University of Aberdeen Senior Governor, Esther Roberton, said in a statement: “The University has cooperated fully with this review, welcomes the publication of the report, accepts its main findings and has already repaid the £119,000 to the Scottish Funding Council.”


North East Scotland Labour MSP, Lewis Macdonald, told The Gaudie: “This is a damning report... At a time when university staff are taking industrial action to protect their own pensions, the case for transparency on senior staff pay and benefits has never been stronger.”