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University vice-chancellors enjoy pay hike of 6%

4 January 2017 | last updated: 31 January 2017

Vice-chancellors at the research-intensive Russell Group of universities received an average 5.9% pay rise in 2015/16, according to a survey released today. In the same year, university staff received a 1.1% increase. The Times Higher Education magazine's survey found the average cost of salary and benefits (excluding pensions) for a Russell Group vice-chancellor is now £342,200.

Despite enjoying such generous pay hikes, Russell Group universities are the worst offenders when it comes to employing academics on precarious contracts. A recent UCU analysis found that 59% of academics at Russell Group institutions are employed on insecure contracts, compared to an average of 53% across UK higher education.

The union accused leaders of letting the sector down by taking inflation-busting pay rises at a time of great upheaval in the sector when more than ever they need to invest in staff and show leadership.  

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Taking inflation-busting pay rises at such a tumultuous time for UK higher education does not show good leadership. These institutions have the worst records for putting staff on insecure casual contracts so there is an even greater sense of injustice that there is one rule for those at the top and one for everyone else.

'Now is the time for vice-chancellors to invest in staff but instead they plead poverty on staff pay, and refuse to address the gender pay gap and endemic job insecurity within their institutions.

'It's clear that the minister's calls for self-restraint in vice-chancellor remuneration have fallen on deaf ears and we need more transparency in how these bumper pay deals are agreed. UCU will continue to campaign for fairer pay for all staff, and a proper register of pay and perks at the top of our universities so that senior pay is open and accountable to all.'