Southampton saves on v-c salary with Mark Smith appointment

Lancaster University head will succeed Sir Christopher Snowden in October

April 8, 2019
Professor Mark E. Smith

The University of Southampton has appointed a new vice-chancellor on a significantly reduced salary, after criticism of its former leader’s remuneration.

Southampton said on 8 April that Mark Smith, the current vice-chancellor of Lancaster University, would be paid a basic salary of £287,000 when he takes up the post in October.

That is much less than his predecessor, Sir Christopher Snowden, who received a basic salary of £423,000 in his last full year in office, and stepped down last month.

Sir Christopher’s remuneration, which totalled £442,000 in 2017-18 once other benefits were counted, had been singled out by Jo Johnson, the former universities minister, as a prime example of excessive levels of executive pay in the higher education sector.

The appointment is another sign that university governing bodies are taking account of concern about vice-chancellors’ remuneration. Southampton’s announcement coincided with the first day in the office for Ian White, the new vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, on a salary of £266,000, plus an additional £37,000 in lieu of pension contributions.

Professor White’s predecessor, Dame Glynis Breakwell, announced her retirement amid criticism of her remuneration package, which totalled £468,000 – making her the UK’s highest-paid vice-chancellor.

Professor Smith received a basic salary of £276,000 from Lancaster last year, and his total remuneration stood at £340,000. He will be contractually required to live in a property owned by Southampton.

Professor Smith said that it would be a “tremendous privilege” to join Southampton.

“I am very excited to be joining a university that is so committed in its vision and strategy to achieving dual excellence in its educational offering and research,” Professor Smith said.

Philip Greenish, Southampton’s chair of council, said that Professor Smith had a “track record of success” and a “deep understanding of the complex environment of higher education”.

“More important than that, however, is his approach to leadership which is consensual, inclusive and sensitive to the needs and expectations of the student and staff community,” Rear Admiral Greenish said.

The average vice-chancellor’s salary stood at £253,000 in England in 2017-18, or £299,000 once pensions and other benefits were added, according to the Office for Students.

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