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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee