The most comprehensive list of top academics' salaries ever compiled shows that some universities pay their most senior staff up to pounds 129,000 plus pension contributions, while others pay as little as pounds 66,000.
"New" universities in large cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow reward their vice-chancellors most handsomely. Meanwhile the vice- chancellor of Oxford, Dr Peter North, earns a comparatively meagre pounds 77,507, just behind the vice-chancellor of London, who earned pounds 79,000 in 1994-95.
The highest paid is Sir Derek Roberts, provost of University College, London, with an annual salary of pounds 129,162, followed by Professor Leslie Wagner of Leeds Metropolitan University with pounds 125,000. At the bottom of the salary table is Professor Keith Robbins of Lampeter, senior vice- chancellor of the University of Wales, with pounds 66,562.
The league table of the 99 universities and colleges is the first to be compiled since controversies over six-figure pay-offs to two vice-chancellors led to all universities being forced to publish the salaries of senior staff. It includes figures for all UK undergraduate universities, apart from four which have not yet published their 1994-95 accounts and which have not chosen to reveal last year's figure. It also includes the main university colleges of London and Wales, though Buckingham, which is privately run, is exempt from the ruling.
The average salary for old and new university vice-chancellors is similar, at pounds 94,428 for the old and pounds 93,862 for the new. The heads of the larger universities usually earn more than those in smaller ones, but there are many notable exceptions. The vice-chancellors of Bath, Aston, York and Brunel all earn more than pounds 100,000 with less than 5,000 full-time students, while the vice-chancellor of Newcastle, with 11,000 students, earns pounds 81,000.
The most reliable way to a top salary seems to be via a knighthood. The average salary for vice-chancellors with this honour is pounds 105,600, pounds 11,000 more than the national average.
Ancient universities such as Cambridge, Aberdeen and Edinburgh all pay more than pounds 100,000, though Oxford's low remuneration brings the average for this group down to pounds 99,800. Campus universities such as Essex, Kent and Lancaster pay less, with an average of pounds 85,600, while civic universities such as Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham pay an average of pounds 96,600.
Some universities have chosen to publish their vice-chancellors' salaries in the past, but now all must do so. The change was made after scandals at Huddersfield and Portsmouth over payments to vice-chancellors.
Although vice-chancellors' pay is not unusually high when compared with salaries in industry, it is high for the public sector. The average annual turnover of a university is pounds 78m and in some cases much higher. Edinburgh, for example, where Stewart Sutherland earned pounds 127,000 in 11 months last year, including pounds 19,800 in employer's pensions contributions, has a turnover of pounds 215m.
David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said other academics were underpaid and should have a pay review body like that which already exists for public sector professionals such as schoolteachers. Neither Sir Derek Roberts nor Professor Robbins was available for comment yesterday.
But Martin Harris, vice-chancellor of Manchester, agreed with Mr Triesman. "A great many university staff will feel even more acutely that they have done very badly and that they are entitled to have comparisons made with the external world," he said.
"The real problem with university pay is the failure of government to supply adequate resources to pay proper salaries to all university staff."
Among the highest-paid vice-chancellors
University Current Salary 1994-95 Full-time
Vice Chancellor students
University College, London Sir Derek Roberts pounds 129,162
(pounds 117,499) 11,289
Leeds Met Professor Leslie Wagner pounds 125,000 9,162
Manchester Met Sir Kenneth Greene pounds 124,260
(pounds 124,990 ) 15,660
Strathcylde Professor John Arbuthnott pounds 120,000
(pounds 117,000) 9,454
De Montfort, Leicester Professor Kenneth Barker pounds 118,000 12,491
Edinburgh Sir Stewart Sutherland pounds 116,727* 11,919
Birmingham Sir Michael Thompson pounds 114,500 10,873
Bath Professor David VandeLinde pounds 114,000
(pounds 114,000) 4,242
Leeds Professor Alan Wilson pounds 113,000
(pounds 110,000) 12,854
Aston Sir Frederick Crawford pounds 110,000 4,025
Oxford Dr Peter North pounds 77,507 9,866
Brighton Professor David Watson pounds 77,000 9,866
London Guildhall Professor Roderick Floud pounds 76,000 5,226
Paisley Professor Richard Shaw pounds 76,000 4,921
Hull Professor David Dilks pounds 76,000
(pounds 71,000) 5,971
Abertay, Dundee Professor Bernard King pounds 79,400 3,571
Bournemouth Professor Gillian Slater pounds 75,000 6,281
Kent Professor Robin Sibson pounds 73,090* 5,138
Wales, Bangor Professor H Evans pounds 72,000
(pounds 70,000) 3,375
Wales, Lampeter Professor Keith Robbins pounds 66,562
(pounds 65,870) 1,317
Figures include benefits but not pensions, as published in 1994-95 accounts, unless otherwise stated.
* V-C changed during the year. Figure gives new VC's salary, rounded up.
Figures in brackets are for 1993-94.Reuse content