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Goldsmiths College is applauded for greater transparency over vice-chancellor's pay


There may be a frisson of horror in vice-chancellor circles at the latest initiative from Goldsmiths College. The south London university has become the first in the country to permit a student representative to sit in on the body that determines the university vice-chancellor's pay.

Goldsmiths, of course, is not a serial offender in the controversy over vice-chancellors' pay but its initiative has been seized upon by the University and College Union (UCU), which is unsurprisingly suggesting that all the others follow suit.

At present, four-fifths of UK universities refuse even to release the minutes of their remuneration committee – which determines vice-chancellor pay. Only hard work by media outlets such as the Times Higher Education magazine keeps the higher- education world abreast of their deliberations.

With pension payments, the average vice-chancellor's remuneration now comes to £254,692 – a 5.5 per cent rise on the previous year, while their minions received only a 1 per cent rise.

"Goldsmiths should be applauded for its move towards greater transparency," said Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the UCU. "We hope there will also be a staff representative invited to probe the boss's pay rise and that other universities will follow suit."

Laudable sentiments, Sally, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.


John Claughton won recognition last week for his efforts as head of King Edward's boys' school in Birmingham to ensure that it aimed for pole position in terms of the private school making the most effort to raise money to fund places for disadvantaged pupils.

What we did not reveal then is that his drive has also earned him a name-check in a top-selling crime thriller. One of the former alumni he persuaded to part with cash was Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher detective series.

As a quid pro quo, Child has now named one of his characters John Claughton. Don't worry – it's not a serial killer. Just a motel owner in downtown USA.