V-c pay: the verdict 1

February 27, 2004

Your annual survey of vice-chancellors' salaries ("Unions cry foul over hike in v-cs' pay", February 20) repeats criticism that their 6 per cent average increase is nearly twice the 3.44 per cent awarded to other university staff. But the latter is the across-the-board "cost of living" increase and the minimum increase anyone will receive. Many academic and other senior staff are on incremental scales or, in some cases, like vice-chancellors, subject to performance-related reviews.

Others will have gained promotion with an accompanying salary increase. For example, a lecturer who was not at the top of scale would have automatically received an increment equivalent to some 4 per cent of salary on top of the 3.5 per cent. This means that the average increase for all staff is significantly higher than the "cost-of-living" increase.

There is a serious issue about absolute pay levels in higher education and related questions about the appropriate level of pay differentials and the linkage of pay to performance, but misleading criticism doesn't help the debate.

John Lauwerys
Secretary and registrar
University of Southampton

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