George Bain (academic)

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Sir George Bain
10th President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
In office
ChancellorSir David Orr
George J. Mitchell
Preceded bySir Gordon Beveridge
Succeeded byPeter Gregson
1st Chair of the Low Pay Commission
In office
2008–2009 (interim)
MinisterThe Lord Mandelson
Preceded byPaul Myners
Succeeded byDavid Norgrove
In office
MinisterMargaret Beckett
Peter Mandelson
Stephen Byers
Patricia Hewitt
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byAdair Turner
Principal of London Business School
In office
Preceded byPeter G. Moore
Succeeded byJohn Quelch
Chairman of Warwick Business School
In office
PresidentJack Butterworth
Clark L. Brundin
Preceded byThom Watson
Succeeded byRobin Wensley
President of the Manitoba New Democratic Party
In office
Personal details
BornGeorge Sayers Bain
(1939-02-24) 24 February 1939 (age 79)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Canadian
  • British
Alma mater
Military service
Service/branchRoyal Canadian Naval Reserve
Years of service1957–1963

Sir George Sayers Bain FRSA CCMI FBAM (born 24 February 1939) 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 Nuffield College, Oxford, where he took a Doctor of Philosophy degree in industrial relations.

He served as President of the Manitoba New Democratic Party from 1962 to 1963.

Academic career[edit]

Bain began his academic career at Nuffield College; 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 1976–1977, 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 firefighters, 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 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] Bain 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" Archived 2 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine., 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" Archived 5 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine.,, retrieved 2 May 2006
  10. ^ "Fire union condemns 'insulting' pay deal"[permanent dead link], 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
Peter Gregson