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Vice-chancellors' pay an embarrassment for universities, says UCU

1 April 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Despite predictions of pay restraint, a new report reveals universities spent 11% more on vice-chancellors than previous year.

A pay survey in Times Higher Education has revealed that universities spent 10.6 per cent more on vice-chancellors' pay and benefits in 2008/09 than they did in the previous year, despite saying a year ago that bumper pay deals were unlikely to continue. During the same period, staff received a nationally-agreed pay rise of five per cent.
UCU said the lack of transparency over vice-chancellors' pay rises and benefits, coupled with enormous pension contributions, continued to be a source of ridicule for universities.
Embarrassingly, the news of the huge rises for vice-chancellors comes just days after universities offered the higher education unions a pay freeze for this year:
A number of universities at the top of the pay table made large pay-offs to bosses stepping down and bumped up their pay to secure them a larger final salary pension. The union argued that if anybody was to believe the oft-repeated maxim that 'we are all in this together' then considerable pay-offs would need to be repeated at all levels.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'One of the reasons vice-chancellors' pay is so embarrassing for universities is the complete lack of transparency or reason behind the arbitrary, but usually handsome, rises. Hiding behind remuneration committees is not good enough when those committees are not required to publicly explain their reasoning. The salary bump ups and massive pension benefits for vice-chancellors on the way out make it difficult for anyone to have any confidence in the system.
'Staff and the public are tired of the hypocrisy from vice-chancellors and their lack of self-awareness when it comes to pay is insulting. I am sure that the thousands of staff at risk of losing their jobs will be delighted to learn that six figure pay-offs are considered the norm by those at the top. Similar settlements and the assurance that there is not one rule for them and one for the rest will soften the crushing blow of redundancy.'
Last year Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (Ucea), said she did not expect bumper pay rises for vice-chancellors to continue: 'With a very different outlook ahead, we would not expect to see this trend continue. Stability and sustainability of institutions remain of paramount importance during this time of economic uncertainty.' Jocelyn Prudence, 19 March 2009 (THE).
For more information on the report contact John Gill at Times Higher Education: john.gill@tsleducation.com or on 020 3194 3364.