Gerald Mars's letter highlights the connivance of senior management in keeping academic pay at levels well below those in commerce and industry. Most registrars would say that the PhD examination fee cannot cover paying a reasonable examiner fee.
But this only emphasises the unrealistic level of examination fee being charged. After all, no university council would condone paying its own academics less than the minimum wage, so why is it acceptable to pay someone else's such a ludicrously low rate?
Most university councils have guidelines as to rates staff should charge for services rendered on contract research, and the typical fee for examining a thesis would buy about a third of a day -enough to cover the train journey. So, why does one institution allow another to use its staff time for free?
Who loses out? Those who have been good-hearted enough to spend what might be £2,000 of their institution's funds reading and examining a thesis from another institution in return for what, once taxed, might buy a pair of shoes.