Savings: v-cs should lead by example

June 10, 2010

In his letter to Times Higher Education last week ("They're worth it, they say"), James Uccello comments on Vince Cable's attack on vice-chancellors' salaries ("Cable 'taken aback' by recent v-c pay rises", www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, May).

I have calculated that if each of the 152 vice-chancellors listed in THE's vice-chancellors' pay table ("It was fun while it lasted", 1 April) were to cut their salaries to £100,000, they would save the higher education budget £16,312,380 a year (the recorded £31,512,380 in their total salaries minus £15,200,000), not including additional benefits.

This may not sound like very much in terms of the overall higher education budget, but at an annual rate of interest of 16.3 per cent, £16.3 million would service a loan of £100 million a year (more, of course, if the interest rate were lower). This might be used, for example, to help the fledgling University of Cumbria, which is in financial difficulties.

When they were interviewed and asked why they wanted to do the job, the vice-chancellors probably did not say that they were in it for the money. Most likely, they said that they "relished the challenge", "couldn't wait to get stuck in" and "wanted to make a difference". Very well then: here is a way for them to make a very big difference indeed.

What is more, such a move would put them in a very good bargaining position in the next round of pay negotiations with the University and College Union.

Ken Smith, Senior lecturer in criminology, Bucks New University.

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