World's finest? V-cs, prove you're worth it 2

April 8, 2010

Writing as both a taxpayer and a parent of a student, I'm infuriated by the way vice-chancellors have tailgated on to the inflated salaries paid in the private sector. This greed has done much to widen the gap between the poorest and richest in British society. I'm even more infuriated by the specious justifications given by these people.

But hey - these are universities, right? There ought to be a way of settling their claims using evidence.

So here's a modest proposal. Divide the vice-chancellors into a control and an experimental group at random and halve the salaries in the experimental group. After a year, we'll see if there are any detectable differences between the two groups on whatever criteria are chosen. I know what the results will be.

Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued the Chrysler Corporation, once said: "I discovered that people accepted a lot of pain if everybody's going through the chute together. I call this equality of sacrifice." Which vice-chancellor will have the courage to demonstrate this particular business truth?

Ormond Simpson, Visiting fellow, University of London Centre for Distance Education.

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