George Bain (academic)

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Sir George Bain
President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
In office
Chancellor Sir David Orr
George J. Mitchell
Preceded by Sir Gordon Beveridge
Succeeded by Sir Peter Gregson
1st Chair of the Low Pay Commission
In office
2008–2009 (interim)
Minister The Lord Mandelson
Preceded by Paul Myners
Succeeded by David Norgrove
In office
Minister Margaret Beckett
Peter Mandelson
Stephen Byers
Patricia Hewitt
Preceded by new office
Succeeded by The Lord Turner of Ecchinswell
Principal of London Business School
In office
Preceded by Peter G. Moore
Succeeded by John Quelch
Chairman of Warwick Business School
In office
President Jack Butterworth
Clark L. Brundin
Preceded by Thom Watson
Succeeded by Robin Wensley
President of the Manitoba New Democratic Party
In office
Personal details
Born (1939-02-24) 24 February 1939 (age 78)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Citizenship Canadian and British
Alma mater University of Manitoba
University of Oxford
Occupation University administrator, industrial relations professor, railway worker
Military service
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Royal Canadian Naval Reserve
Years of service 1957–1963
Rank Lieutenant

Sir George Sayers Bain, FRSA CCMI FBAM is a British-Canadian academic. He was President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2004.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Bain was born and brought up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.[3] He was educated at Miles Macdonell Collegiate. He studied economics and political science at the University of Manitoba. He then proceeded to the University of Oxford where he took a D.Phil. in industrial relations.

Academic career[edit]

Bain began his academic career at Nuffield College, Oxford; the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology; the University of Warwick, where he was Chairman of the School of Industrial and Business Studies between 1983 and 1989; and finally the London Business School, where he was Principal between 1989 and 1997.

He was a member of the Committee of Inquiry into Industrial Democracy chaired by Lord Bullock in 1976-7, of the Senior Salaries Review Body during 1993-6, and was Chairman of the Low Pay Commission during 1997-2002, the Work and Parents Taskforce in 2001, and the Independent Review of the Fire Service in 2002.

He is a non-executive director of Bombardier Aerospace, Canada Life Group (UK) Ltd, the Canada Life Capital Corporation, Electra Investment Trust Plc and Iain More Associates Ltd.

He holds eleven honorary doctorates and was knighted in 2001.

Career at Queen's[edit]

Bain's gregarious and extrovert personality was in marked contrast to the sombre leadership offered by his predecessor Sir Gordon Beveridge. The latter's tenure was marked by an acrimonious dispute within, and without the University over symbols and the use of the national anthem at graduations ceremonies. Bain pushed Queen's further up the research league table, the RAE but as this was achieved in part by the axing of long-standing departments like Geology, Classics and Irish Studies he suffered from a letter-writing campaign in the Belfast press from supporters of the staff whose posts were closed.[4]

Perhaps the most public disappointment of his time at the helm of Belfast's senior university was the failure of the £60 million "Lanyon II" campaign to create a new 'student village'.[5] The self-styled pressure-group "QUB Watch" also kept him under relentless scrutiny over the closure of the Armagh campus,[6] and over what it considered his failure to reduce the number of cases of religious discrimination being taken against the university by members of staff.[7]

His tenure at Queen's was also notable for a successful fundraising campaign for the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre and for a new Library building.

Independent Review of the Fire Service[edit]

Bain was asked to chair a Government-funded Independent Review of the Fire Service in 2002, it was wide-ranging and placed fire and rescue services in the UK under close scrutiny - it led to strike action by fire-fighters, shortly before the report's publication, although the FBU and fire and rescue services had been in tense negotiations for a year before. Sir Anthony Young and Professor Sir Michael Lyons co-authored the review. The Bain Review was presented to the Deputy Prime Minister on 16 December 2002,[8] but a position paper was delivered earlier.[9] Sir George said "Taking into account the very generous pension entitlement, the holiday arrangements, the good job security, firemen are actually not badly rewarded. The recruitment and retention figures back this up. There's about 40 applications for every vacancy in the fire service."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About the Independent Review and its Chair", retrieved 2 May 2006
  2. ^ "Queen's appoints new Vice-Chancellor" Queen's University Belfast press release, 2004
  3. ^ "In the news: Sir George Bain". Times Higher Education. 25 October 2002. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Classics closure decision must be reversed" Belfast Telegraph, 21 May 2003
  5. ^ "Queen's postpones £60m development" Belfast Telegraph, 30 May 2002
  6. ^ "University to close campus" BBC website, 5 May 2004
  7. ^ "Senior Catholic employee paid £150,000 in religious discrimination claim" Socialist Worker Online, 23 November 2002
  8. ^ "Independent Review of the Fire Service",, retrieved 2 May 2006
  9. ^ "Independent Review publishes position paper",, retrieved 2 May 2006
  10. ^ "Fire union condemns 'insulting' pay deal", BBC news web site, retrieved 2 May 2006

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Gordon Beveridge
President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
Succeeded by
Professor Peter Gregson