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University Vice-Chancellor to step down

EXCLUSIVE: Brian Cantor, the University of York Vice-Chancellor, is to step down at the end of the 2012/13 academic year. Cantor has been in the position since 2002. (Thumbnail credit Photo credit: George Lowther)

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Brian Cantor, the University of York Vice-Chancellor, is to step down.

Sources within the University have told Nouse that members of staff were today informed of Cantor's departure. It is expected that he will remain Vice-Chancellor until the end of the 2012/13 academic year. In 2013, the University celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Sir Christopher O'Donnell, Chair of Council at the University, described Cantor as an "outstanding Vice Chancellor" and praised the "enormous contribution" that Cantor has made to the University's growth and development, "especially in leading the expansion of the University, and overseeing the establishment of our new and highly acclaimed campus on Heslington East."

"During his term, the University has maintained its leading position in UK higher education and greatly enhanced its global reputation, becoming established as one of the Top 100 global universities. The University has won four consecutive Queen's Anniversary Prizes and the University has twice been awarded the accolade of University of the Year in the UK."

Cantor has been the Vice-Chancellor of York since 2002, when he took over from Professor Sir Ronald Cooke. Professor Cooke had spent nine years at the top of the University before he stood down and Professor Berrick Saul, who preceded him, was Vice-Chancellor for 14 years.

In 2010 the University won the Times Higher Education University of the Year award, and in March Nouse reported that York had been accepted into the Russell Group, an elite group of UK universities. However, in the past few years York has fallen down the university league tables.

Cantor has overseen the expansion of the University onto Heslington East during his time as Vice-Chancellor, as well as a significant increase in student numbers. The student population has grown from around 9,000 in 2002 to 14-15,000 this year.

Tim Ellis, YUSU President, commented on the Vice-Chancellor's departure: "Brian Cantor has had a highly successful ten years as Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, overseeing the University's expansion onto Hes East, a huge increase in student numbers and York's recent acceptance into the Russell Group of Universities. We will be looking forward to working with him over the coming months and will also be eager to be a part of the process for looking for his successor to take the University forward."

O'Donnell added: "On behalf of the University, I would like to thank Brian for his outstanding contribution to the University and the City of York."

The search for a successor will be undertaken by O'Donnell and commence shortly.

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Lisa Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Perhaps this could be an opportunity to bring VC pay in line with the rest of the staff. A 16:1 pay ratio is not acceptable.


n Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020


Seriously though, he's done a decent job of it. We'll end up criticizing his successor just as much, if not more.


Special K(unt) Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Any ideas who his replacement will be?


G Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

"Perhaps this could be an opportunity to bring VC pay in line with the rest of the staff. A 16:1 pay ratio is not acceptable."

Remuneration is certainly an issue in this country, but it needs to be addressed across the board, not unilaterally.

If York offers (what is perceived as) a sub-par salary for a VC, then I am concerned that the only thing we will achieve is to attract sub-par candidates.

The fact of the matter is, established academics would without doubt have competing offers from the Executive Boards of large companies (as Brion Cantor did, being a world authority on materials manufacturing).

I certainly agree that extreme pay disparities are not justifiable from a moral perspective. But I would be very reluctant to damage the University's long term prospects simply to make a point.

By all means, there's a serious debate to be had about remuneration, and I do agree it should be kept in the political agenda. That said, let us try not to shoot ourselves in the foot as a University.


Cynic Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

He stayed a year or two too long for me, managed to leave just before the massive challenges of increased fees. Tough job for his successor.


Oscar Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Big job available here.


mrcs Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@ cynic. If you had in fact read the article properly then you would see that he is in fact not going until after the first year of higher tutition fees has gone through and i remember him being very supportive of students last year during the consultation period about higher fees


Billy Bob Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

He always remained in an ivory tower, was completely unapproachable and cut off from the student population. Can't say he will be missed.


fact check Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Sir Christopher O'Donnell, Chair of Council at the University, described Cantor as an "outstanding Vice Chancellor ... During his term, the University has maintained its leading position in UK higher education".

Er... not quite. He oversaw a consistent annual drop in the league tables.

And last week the THES said we're down to 61st for student experience.

And the Russell Group is about having law & medicine - not standards.

And Hes East was Ron Cooke's big idea, not Cantor's.

I hope the new V-C will help to get us back into the top ten.


The Doctor Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

To paraphrase The Four Seasons, "Bye bye Cantor, Cantor goodbye!"


Suren Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

I like to thank Brian Cantor for all the good work he did in getting University of York in to the Russell Group and overseeing the expansion of the university.

I find it sad and feel embarrassed reading the negative comments from some students who have no idea of the real world.

"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."

Oscar Wilde


Billy Bob Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@ Suren

Oscar Wilde is not Jesus or Mohammed. He does not need to be deified. Students are free to criticize the Vice Chancellor, it is 'academic judgment'.


Oliver Blackburn Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Tim's quote is rather lacking teeth. I suppose there isn't much to be gained from bitching about Cantor now.

I hope this will give students a change to re-define their relationship with Senior Management to make Hes Hall a little more student focussed, and a little less exclusively business minded.

As for a sucessor - an internal promotion most likely to be Trevor Sheldon, although given he gave up the Deputy VC job he might be scaling back his responsibilites. Or possibly just easing Jane into the role so she'd be established in time for the VC change. Who knows eh.

Fingers crossed for a league table recovery whatever happened. Much as I love THE, the university of the year thing is nothing compared to a regular place in the Top 10. That must be our priority, and a little more student satisfaction is the best way to do that. I hope a newbie notices.


Nicho Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

"EXCLUSIVE". Yeah, just like every other piece of campus media.


Jonathan Frost Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@Nicho It was an exclusive, as Nouse broke the news online. Naturally, the story has since been "replicated" elsewhere.


Nicho Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Show me your Guardian Award, then we'll talk.


David Keith Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Has anyone heard the Vice Chancellor speak? Ever? Has anyone seen the Vice Chancellor come and visit any students in their accommodation, and ask how they are finding their University experience? Has anyone ever seen the Vice Chancellor, in person? Would you recognise the Vice Chancellor if you passed him on the street?

Hopefully the new Vice-Chancellor will be more approachable towards students. The entire senior management and particularly the accommodation office are all a bit reticent to engage with students. When one of them leaves of dies or whatever, I can't legitimately feel a loss for someone who is so elusive. The University need a change, it's so morose.


Andrew Lewis Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

In the last two years alone, Cantor managed to claim PS57,590 in plane tickets, a marked increase from 2006/07 where only PS12,252 was reimbursed.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the six Pro-Vice-Chancellors claimed, all together, PS92,225 over three years, compared to PS134,857 for the Vice-Chancellor alone.

Goodbye Brian Cantor. Now to get rid of a few others...


Henry Aldgate Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020


York University vice chancellor Brian Cantor 'uses work secretary to help run his luxury ski chalet'

A UNIVERSITY head on PS250,000 a year uses his office secretary to help run his luxurious ski chalet.

Brian Cantor, vice chancellor of York university, gets the admin office there to field calls from people hiring his holiday home.

The academic advertises the number and address of the uni on an upmarket rental website where his chalet at Chamonix in the French Alps is up for rent at PS1,100 per week.

When his secretary is challenged in a Channel 4 documentary to be shown tomorrow, he maintains his boss's behaviour is "reasonable and unexceptional".

Prof Cantor, 63, has claimed PS10,000 for chauffeur driven cars in the last year and has a grace-and-favour house on campus. His university faces a cut of PS1.48m state funding.


Unimpressed Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

He even used a chauffeur-driven car to go from the Berrick Saul to Hes East.


Janis Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Does anybody actually know if he was any good? Hell, maybe he justified this salary. It seems a bit pointless to judge a VC on his expenses.

as to @Fact Check, York have dropped, risen, or stayed level, depending on which table you look at. Perhaps they were being selective in the ones they looked at, but then you have been too.


Oliver Blackburn Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Henry, in farnes to Cantor that's a bit disengengous. His PA doesn't run his holiday home or anything, his office is listed as an emergency contact in case there is a problem. Doesn't seem that nuts. Although I agree it's not ideal, people field personal calls in their work offices all the time in all walks of life.

Janis, there is a distinction between salary and expenses. Maybe he justified his salary, but I don't think a PS100+ chauffer driven limo to Heslington East from Hes West is ever justified. Just so needlessly extravagent.


Suresh Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020


I feel sorry for him, lets all write nice comments to feed the Vice Chancellor's ego. Better still, why doesn't the Vice Chance get all his friends to write nice comments about his character?


Fact check Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Whilst overseeing the decline, Cantor raised his pay to about PS120/hour.

And that doesn't factor in the free house and a chauffeur-driven car.

Hes Hall believes in hard-edged capitalism when that suits its interests...

but isn't quite capitalist enough to base management pay hikes on results.


York used to be consistently in the top ten, across all league tables.

You imply Cantor's years saw York rise in some tables. Totally untrue.


William Langwith Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

The students have spoken. Hear hear.

The University is governed as a dictatorship. Students are rarely consulted about the method of consultation that they want.

All in favour of a friendly, approachable, trustworthy Vice Chancellor?
All in favour of a Vice Chancellor with a proportionate salary?
All in favour of a Vice Chancellor that ensures student satisfaction?


Top seven Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Up to 2006: inside the top seven, in one league table or more, every year.

Since 2006: outside the top seven, in every league table, every year.


Anna Whitehead Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

The emperor wears no clothes.


Sofia Beford Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

He was so desperate to project an 'image' or grandeur. Not just the chauffeurs and the free house, but the press officers, the ivory tower etc.

I will give PS500,000 to any student who has met the Vice Chancellor in person (without his press officer censoring the conversation).


Oliver Blackburn Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Sofia Bedford: How do I get in touch to claim that reward? I've met him in person without a press officer.


Sofia Beford Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020



Sofia Beford Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

It was a joke or a mere puff...


James Felding-Fortescue Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

The Vice Chancellor is like the Queen, he is half god, half mortal. Sometimes he comes out from his castle in Hes Palace, but only to look down on us mere students. I would love to just touch his robe, maybe some of the godliness will rub off on me...

Word on the street is that one roll of toilet paper in Heslington Hall costs more than the new PS9,000 tuition fees.


Victoria L. Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

'But when push comes to shove, will he fight politicians to protect York students and the university? Probably not actually - although he is the political figurehead of the University, he brands government lobbying a "waste of time".'



tic-tac Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

The big question is does he care for York students and the University?

hmmm - leaving in the middle of serious ongoing allegations of racial discrimination and unfair dismissal against senior members of the University.


Chris West Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

'Many colleagues have privately said that he is not involved enough with the day-to-day running of campus. One anonymous colleague said: "Brian is totally out of touch with the students."
Cantor explains: "nine times out of ten, the best method of getting something sorted is to talk to... not me!" He says that consulting him is "not normally the most effective method to achieve things." It's hard to tell if he's joking or not.

He only meets with YUSU once a term, which is infrequent compared to other universities, where vice chancellors meet students' unions once or even twice a week. He visits departments and colleges just once a year, proudly claiming: "I specifically ask to meet a variety of students as part of that."

The rarity of Cantor's interaction with students is highlighted by the nature of his communication with the student press. He hardly ever grants lengthy interviews and almost never passes personal comment otherwise. Press officer David Garner sits in on Vision's interview with the VC, recording every word. He even turns on the scare tactics before the interview starts, advising ominously that the tone should "not to be confrontational".'



George P Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

PS7billion each to the first 100 students who have met Brian Cantor in person. The money will be provided by the University.

Evidence must be provided.

What did he say? Did you believe him?
How firm was his handshake?
Was his press officer there? Was he surrounded by 'yes' men?
Did he express a personal opinion or was all conversation scripted?

If the number of students that come forward is more than 5, I will eat my head.


Hmm Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020




Linda Green Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Time for a change I guess.


3rd Year Student. Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

I do not know anyone who knows his name, let alone anyone who has met him (if it is a him?) Brian could be short for Brianna for all I know. How do we know that the person in the photo is really the Vice Chancellor? Apparently, there is also a Chancellor of the University too, he is one step above the Vice Chancellor. Has anyone ever met him.

Also don't you think we should call him the 'vice chancellor' instead of 'Vice Chancellor'. I think that he should be referred to using ordinary/common nouns rather than proper nouns because he is not specific.


Anonymous Accommodation Officer Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Another scandal is that many students are being illegally expelled from the University because they have an accommodation debt to the accommodation office.

Students enter a contractual relationship with the University and can only be 'asked to leave' the University if they fail to pay their tuition fees. Students can never be kicked out of the University because of an accommodation debt.

The University is like a duck, calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath. Like a duck the University leaves a trail of poo with every press release, new announcement or reorganization in the name of 'change'.

The new VC has a lot to do.


Ed. Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Brian Cantor speaks:



Anonymous Accommodation Officer Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Why are my comments being moderated?


Martin Spurr Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

I don't think any of your comments have been moderated. Which ones are you referring to?


Get real Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Chris West, no Students Union meets with the VC once or twice a week. Get a grip.


Alumnus Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

I work in industry, and I have never met my firm's CEO in person. Why would / should the average student meet the vice chancellor?

3rd year student, if you have not heard of him before, it's your fault, not his. Had you been reading Nouse, York Vision or the Yorker over the past three years, you would have known more about him. Also, the Chancellor is merely a ceremonial role.


@Alumnus Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

GREAT CEOs and Vice Chancellors acquaint themselves with the little people, the cleaners, the porters and especially, the 'average' student. Why would you be so arrogant as to ignore students? GOOD CEOs do the same with all employees.

If a VC is indifferent to students it results in complaints, dissatisfaction, low morale, poor league table rankings, drop outs etc

If you lock yourself in an ivory tower, do not act surpised when the peasants revolt. The VC probably didn't even see the dissatisfaction coming because he is surrounded by sychophants. ShockHorror:If a VC does not care about students, students may not care about him either.


THES Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

I saw my VC the other day - he looked at me and I turned invisible before his eyes settled; it seems he was staring at nothing. I was not there.

I do not need Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility; all it takes is a sign that a VC will turn his gaze in your direction - presto, you disappear from sight whilst still occupying physical space.

I figure this a protective strategy so these kinds of VC don't turn to stone or whatever it is the substance in their veins will turn to - if their eyes connect with staff or students. Forbid that. To rule and to walk loftily. All hail together.


Bill Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Alumnus - Because in industry, the firm hires you and rewards you with a wage. The CEO is your boss.

In a University, students are the customer, or more realistically they are the shareholders. As the executive of the shareholders, YUSU should surely be in regular contact with the VC. Also, who mandates the role of the VC, who sets his job objectives, targets etc?

The univerity should be run for the benefit of the students who pay for it, not the managers who run it. Effectively, the management of this university at this Uni have hijacked it fromt the students for commercial gain which is then doled out in massive salaries. Things must surely change when its 9k a year and external funding is much reduced. I'm sure it will not.


THES Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

I agree with @Bill - the University management are running the University for some other (self-seeking) purpose. Students are an afterthought.


Suggestion to Nouse/Vision eds. Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

The accommodation message, above, deserves to be followed up...


Dear Students Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Dear Students,

You realise that nobody on campus actually cares whether you pass or fail, right? So long as the University has your money, what you do is your business.

You are just a cog.
Your money is used to generate more money, which is used to generate more money, which does not belong to you.
You are poor students, you are more vulnerable than you think, particularly those who start University at 18.

Senior management are laughing at you.
Laughing all the way to the bank.



highhorse Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@Suggestion to Nouse/Vision eds

and the others don't your Majesty?


The Queen Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

The "Anon. Accomm. Officer" message = new, newsworthy information.


highhorse Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@The Queen



@highhorse Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Evidence has been passed to Nouse and to Vision. Investigations are under way.


Candy Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Lets hope the next VC is offered a substantially larger pay package, which will possibly attract the interest of an ex ivy-league so that our uni can compete in the world with the big boys... "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give him a rod, and you feed him for a lifetime."


J.Brown Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

To be fair, the senior management need to focus on:

a) student satisfaction with their degree course
b) the 'student experience' including supervision and pastoral care
c) accommodation issues
d) welfare services

When these things are taken care of everything else, good grades, good reputation, league table recognition, high morale, student engagement in extra curriculars etc will follow.

York could be on par with LSE, Oxford, Cambridge etc (one day) if enough effort is put in. At the moment it is accurate reflection that York is ranked 61st for student satisfaction.


He touched me... Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

... but not inappropriately.
Actually he shook my hand.

We were discussing moves onto Hes East for a "student consultation" and he had to be informed by Jane Grenville that the college currently being built there is to be for Langwith students. He 'wasn't aware' that a college was being moved.

It didn't inspire confidence in his leadership - although I think he was well aware of the amount of extra rooms (read: extra rent) would be built.


You lie Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@ He touched me: You are liar. He couldn't have shaken your hand - the Vice Chancellor, like the Queen, does not touch students.

He was appointed as Vice Chancellor by divine right. The Vice Chancellor is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God.

All hope lies in the proles...


highhorse Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

@ you lie

In which case good riddance to ....... oh except for the Queen she is so cool


N Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Hopefully the next VC will actually engage with YUSU to a far greater degree. The main reason why YUSU provides F all to the student experience at York is that there's no relationship at all between them and the VC apart from administration providing funding - not really a perfect way to go about things...


Student In The Know. Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

There are many, many reasons why York is not the number 1 university in the world.


rr1 Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

This is definitely a vital time for students here to demand an opening up of the central administration of the university and bring it closer to students and academic staff. Looking back on my time at York, I only remember actually seeing Cantor once, and that was at our Fresher's presentation at the beginning of the first year.
In a time where universities generally are being slowly populated with professional corporate-style "managerialists" who see themselves as islands removed from the campus (whilst still dictating to academics, students and other staff).
This is despite the fact that many problems in higher education are due to the undercutting of departmental autonomy by devolution in funding (as well as the use of postgrads), centralized senior management and constant outside interference with RAE's etc; the very policies that are advocated.
The minutes of Council meetings are worth looking at by any York student: The "Council noted that this [the acceptance of performance management by staff] indicated a waning of the traditional academic resistance to performance management and recognition that it would become more significant in the new high-fees environment. From the perspective of internal management structures, it was noted that the transfer of line-management responsibility for Heads of Departments to the Academic Co-ordinators would facilitate a more direct approach to dealing with performance issues where these arose."

VC's are now more like corporate CEO's focused on generally short "growth figures" and NSS results which will lead to short sited decisions without reference to potential consequences in the future(like decreasing student numbers or the sale of colleges to private contractors, which will not always be 'joint ventures' if current trends continue).
The Senior management Council have already "agreed that forecast financial contingencies should be viewed on a year-by-year basis to hedge against ongoing economic and political uncertainties, while at the same acknowledging that in the new market environment the University would need to invest in aspects of the student experience in order to keep pace with competitors."
These uncertainties have existed for decades as a result of consistent government policies aimed at defunding state higher education for good, Cantor's replacement will probably not be much different aside from some superficial aspects, and if students don't start being pro-active in ensuring a healthy future for their institution, as opposed to being 'consumers' of degrees, then the future of York and others could be very bleak (even if the Russell Group offers shelter for a while).
A great study on this has been done by Rosemary Deem et al. called "Knowledge, Higher Education, and the New Managerialism" (available on amazon) if anyone would like to learn more. (there are many other studies too)


Naomi. Posted on Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Interesting point above.


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