Unfair comparison

February 17, 2011

You've got to laugh. An assistant director of human resources at the University of Birmingham, whose vice-chancellor took home £310,000 in 2008-09 according to the most recent survey of vice-chancellors' annual pay in Times Higher Education, complains about the unfairness of an article that states that vice-chancellors earn more than the prime minister ("Exceptional examples", Letters, 10 February). It's not true, he writes, because the PM's real pay is actually £581,000.

The point is that average pay for vice-chancellors (about £220,000) is astronomically higher than it needs to be and has continued to rocket while that of most university staff has barely kept up with inflation.

The majority of vice-chancellors have come through the academic route and have had little experience of managing organisations. The only market for them is in higher education and very few do - or could - qualify for a chief executive position in the kind of commercial enterprises they look at to benchmark their own remuneration.

Put all their salaries down by 50 per cent and see how many would walk away. A safe bet would be not many.

Howard Moss, Swansea.

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