The academic fat cats: Vice-chancellors at Britain's top universities get £22,000 pay rises – as lecturers are stuck on 1 per cent

Unions angered that average vice-chancellor pay rose 8.1 per cent while regular staff received a one per cent rise

Vice-chancellors of the UK’s top universities pocketed average pay rises of £22,000 last year – while insisting their employees stuck to just a one per cent increase.

A survey showed the Russell Group universities - which represents 24 of the most selective higher education institutions in the country – awarded pay rises of 8.1 per cent on average to their vice-chancellors while overall benefits packages also soared by 5.2 per cent.

In many cases, argued union leaders, the rises themselves were more than the annual salary of their staff - now locked in a pay dispute after rejecting a one per cent pay offer.

The findings angered university union leaders, who warned of the prospect of more industrial action on campuses once term resumes later this month.

Haydn Morris, of the Unite union - which represents science technicians, administrators and management staff in universities, said on Thursday: “This smacks of rank hypocrisy - given that university staff have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13 per cent cut in pay real terms since 2008.

Read more:

We need more wage rises at the lower end of the scale  

“On the day that the cost of living crisis has again been highlighted by the leap in rail fares, the university bosses are lining their own substantial pockets while those staff that keep Britain in the top ten world university league table struggle to make ends meet.”

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, added: “It is the startling hypocrisy that grates more than the actual rises.

“Many vice-chancellors have talked down to their staff and told them to accept a one per cent rise - representing another real terms pay cut - as it is the best they can expect, while happily pocketing big sums themselves.

“Few people have ever bought the lie that we are all in this together but these revelations are as insulting as they are unfair.

“With further disruption set for the New Year if this dispute is unresolved, these controversial rises will galvanise union members who are determined to fight for high pay.”

Rises for the 19 Russell Group members who replied to a survey by the Times Higher Education magazine included £20,000 extra for Cambridge University vice-chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.  It brought his remuneration package up to £334,000.  Don Nutbeam, of Southampton University was awarded £19,015 extra - bringing his package up to £333, 515.

Craig Colhoun, newly appointed director of the London School of Economics, received £466,000 - although £88,000 of this was to pay for his relocation from the United States.  That compares to £285,000 for his predecessor Sir Howard Davies in his last year at the LSE.

David Eastwood, of Birmingham University, had the highest declared basic salary of £400,000 - up £28,000 from last year.  However, his overall remuneration package was down from £406,000 the previous year as he no longer received pension payments.

The rises were not confined to Russell Group universities either, according to THE, with Steve West of the University of the West of Englasnd seeing his package rise by £52, 434 to £314, 632 - including a £24,158 performance bonus.

University employers were quick to defend the rises as essential in ensuring they attracted the high calibre staff necessary to defend the UK’s position as a world-class higher education provider.

“The salaries of vice-chancellors and other senior staff at our universities reflect their roles leading extremely complex, international organisations with annual turnovers of more than half a billion pounds on average,” said Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group.

“The success of our universities benefits Britain and is vital for growth: collectively they contribute more than £30 billion to the economy every year. The independent remuneration committees which decide these salaries are acutely aware that the continued global success of these institutions requires world-class leadership and academic talent, particularly through tough economic times.”

She added: “Our vice-chancellors still earn significantly less than their counterparts in the United States or Australia despite running equally or, in some cases, more successful universities.  For example, 46 colleges in the US paid their vice-chancellors over $1,000,000 (£640,000) in 2011 and the average salary amongst the eight research intensive universities of Australia was more than A$900,000 (£613,000) in 2012.”

Dr Piatt continued: “We will continue to work closely with staff and unions to ensure that we provide competitive but sustainable pay and conditions for our highly valued staff.”

So far union leaders have called two days of strike action over their pay claim - and lecturers are also currently engaged in a work-to-rule.  Members of Unison, Unite and the Educational Institute of Scotland have also staged walk-outs and it was being said last night that more action is likely this year if there is not a swift settlement to the dispute.

Seats of earning: the top five salaries

Craig Calhoun

The newly appointed director of the London School of Economics has bagged a £466,000-a-year package – although £88,000 was for relocation from the US. His predecessor Sir Howard Davies earned £285,000 in his last year.

David Eastwood

The Birmingham University vice-chancellor has the highest declared basic salary – £400,000 – up from £372,000 the previous year. 

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz

The vice-chancellor of Cambridge University had his pay packet boosted by £20,000 to £334,000.

Don Nutbeam

The Southampton University vice-chancellor’s salary went up by £19,015 to an overall package of £333, 515.

Sir Malcolm Grant

The outgoing provost of University College London, his package shot up £41,077 to £365,432 – but this included a 10 per cent reduction volunteered by Sir Malcolm in 2010.

Suggested Topics
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant - IT Channel - Graduate

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a Value-Added I...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: A Junior Developer /...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing