Up to 1,000 academics could be paid from what heads of institutions earn. Alison Goddard adds up the rewards.
The heads of universities and colleges shared almost £20 million in pay between them last year. That's more than the University of Warwick's entire research grant from the funding council and more than the grant the University of Luton receives to teach its 12,500 students.
The sum would be enough to pay up to 1,000 more academic staff - the equivalent of a new medium-sized university.
Most of the country's 164 vice-chancellors were paid more than £116,000. Three were paid more than £250,000 each. The mean pay rise was 8.5 per cent, with most vice-chancellors receiving an increase of 6.5 per cent or more. Two vice-chancellors who were leaving their posts doubled their incomes; 42 took rises of 10 per cent or more.
Sally Hunt, assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "Naturally, we are outraged and affronted. This comes at a time when higher education is under greater pressure than ever to meet government targets, and we are looking at job losses after the decision to not fully fund the results of the research assessment exercise.
"The vice-chancellors' pay rise is not just over inflation, it's twice what they are probably going to offer to staff."
Tom Wilson, head of universities at lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "It is extraordinary that vice-chancellors feel comfortable taking three times what they offer their staff. If remuneration committees are carefully judging them, what are their criteria? Retention is not good. The number of institutions forecasting a deficit has doubled. Overseas recruitment is below target."
The biggest payouts went to those leaving for pastures new. Sir John Daniel, formerly of the Open University, and Sir John Kingman, formerly of the University of Bristol, both doubled their incomes.
The figure for Imperial College, London, covers the salaries, including a three-month overlap, of both former rector Lord Oxburgh and the current incumbent, Sir Richard Sykes. Frank Gould has left the University of East London after overseeing events that led to UEL's being placed under emergency supervision by the funding council.
William Stubbs no longer heads the London Institute, and David VandeLinde drove his company car from the University of Bath to the University of Warwick. A footnote to Bath's accounts reads: "A car loan was in existence at the start of the year, having been provided by the university as a cost-effective means of providing the benefits to which the vice-chancellor was contractually entitled. The balance at the end of the year of £14,572 was written off. The cost to the university is included in the vice-chancellor's emoluments."
The income of Nottingham Trent University head Ray Cowell included £11,000 in profit-related pay that was deferred from previous years.
Although he does not feature in the pay table, Peter Toyne, former vice-chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, received £55,000 for working the month of August 2000, according to the university accounts. Professor Toyne was subject to a staff vote of no confidence while his income leapt 13.2 per cent to £129,000 in the previous year. Had he stayed on his final rate of pay, he would have received £660,000 last year. The accounts also note that "a transfer to the pension provision was made during the year for the enhanced pension benefit of the retired vice-chancellor". This transfer totalled £100,000.
Another payment resulted from the University of Hull's merger with University College Scarborough. The accounts state: "At 31 July, the then board of governors of University College Scarborough agreed to pay a severance payment of £402,789 to (R Withers) the principal and chief executive who left the college." Dr Withers had previously earned £84,200 in year to July 2000. The University of Hull realised the cost only after the merger.
At South Bank University, compensation for loss of office for its highest paid staff member totalled £97,000, with £86,000 in the estimated value of pension benefits. The only person with an income of more than £100,000 last year was the former vice-chancellor, Gerry Bernbaum, on £121,000.
One of the big improvers in the income stakes was Peter Rigby, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research. But his 50 per cent pay rise was due to the fact that until March 2000, he received only half his agreed remuneration while he continued his research for the National Institute for Medical Research.
Some of the most impressive pay rises were clinched by new heads of institutions. Christopher Edwards joined the University of Newcastle on a third more money than his predecessor, James Wright. But he did not get the house. A footnote to the accounts reveals: "During the year, the wife of the former vice-chancellor purchased a house from the university for £492,825, which had been placed on the open market following a professional independent valuation."
Doing less well from the vice-chancellor's accommodation was Martin Gaskell, rector of University College Northampton. A review of the value of his quarters led to the 3.3 per cent fall in income noted opposite.
Ian Johnson's pay package as principal of Glasgow Caledonian University fell due to the expiry of the relocation costs and a fall in his performance-related pay.