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Controversial University of Southampton vice-chancellor now on £433,000 a year

1 December 2017 | last updated: 8 December 2017

Controversial University of Southampton vice-chancellor Sir Christopher Snowden has been accused of insulting staff and being out of touch after it was revealed he accepted a pay rise to take his pay package up to £433,000 a year while announcing plans to axe 75 academics to save money.

Accounts just released (P43) show that Snowden received £433,000 in 2016-17, up from the £352,000 he was paid the previous year for the 10 months he was employed. Although year-on-year comparisons are difficult due to the change in leadership in 2015/16, this represents a 30% rise in the vice-chancellor's remuneration package since 2014/15, when Professor Don Nutbeam took home £332,000. 

This latest pay rise comes despite public criticism of Snowden's pay deal by universities minister Jo Johnson, and just weeks after the university advertised for an executive chauffeur while planning to axe academic jobs.

The University and College Union (UCU) said the latest pay revelation demonstrated once again just how out of touch university vice-chancellors were and called for changes to the way senior pay was decided.

The University of Southampton has already been criticised by UCU for being one of the least transparent universities in the country. It is one of only two universities that has refused to answer any of the union's Freedom of Information requests on the vice-chancellor's pay and perks.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'This latest revelation demonstrates just how out of touch university vice-chancellors can be. Professor Snowden was already one of the best-paid vice-chancellors in the UK, on a salary that had been publicly questioned by the universities minister. To accept this kind of pay rise while saying he must axe 75 academic jobs because money is tight beggars belief. As does the fact that he has also recently advertised for an executive chauffeur.

'Following a summer of damaging headlines about the abuse of pay and perks by senior staff in universities, it is almost as if vice-chancellors are engaged in some offensive game to see who can shock the most. From Dame Glynis Breakwell thinking her golden goodbye is acceptable at Bath to Professor Snowden's insulting pay hike while axing staff, the time has clearly come for proper scrutiny of the pay and perks of vice-chancellors.'