This week, a selection of vice-chancellors describe their reactions to the latest developments:
Vice-chancellor, Old Sarum
Well, of course, some people felt I'd been a little bellicose when I referred last week to universities being held to ransom by a tightly knit group of politically motivated academics. And a few considered my decision to deduct 120 per cent from salaries a trifle punitive. And perhaps I shouldn't have said publicly that the only thing the strikers would be handing out next term was The Big Issue . But, hey, I was only bluffing. Right?
Frankly, I'm a very popular vice-chancellor. So, all I ever did was to send round a few chatty letters telling individuals that they were being rather naughty and that I might have to think about docking just a teeny bit of their pay, but of course they'd get it all back when the dispute is settled. I'm sure my staff will now quickly resume their places in the happy underpaid community they all knew and loved before this unfortunate dispute. Remember, I'm your friend.
Look, don't tell everyone, but I reckon I could have had this whole business sorted out weeks ago. When the finance officer and I looked at the books we found we could easily offer 16 per cent. If we'd stuffed that in their pay packets next month, they would all have gone quiet. And once we'd got a nice local agreement we'd be out of the national negotiating loop, and the next time they asked for anything we could have told them to get lost. Ah, well.
Thank God it's nearly over. I mean, when I took this job they told me that I'd be a Chief Executive just like other CEOs who run big companies and never get blamed for anything. They said I'd have a large chauffeur-driven car and fat annual pay increases and would be able to delegate everything to provosts and deans and pro vice-chancellors. But then, suddenly, I was getting late-night calls from other vice-chancellors urging me to exercise my management skills. What management skills? No one ever mentioned skills in my interview.
"Britain's vice-chancellors - sharing the vision."