Bid to curb v-cs' pay deals

March 17, 1995

The high salary packages negotiated by Australian vice chancellors have alarmed the nation's academics. Now university staff want to limit any further increase to the Aus$20 million (Pounds 10 million) which institutions pay their senior executives.

The National Tertiary Education Union will call for a curb on salary rises when the federal Remuneration Tribunal begins an inquiry into performance-based pay scales for vice chancellors and their deputies later this year.

In December, the tribunal int-roduced performance-based pay scales for senior staff at the three Commonwealth-controlled institutions: the Australian National University, the University of Canberra and the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania.

Although the tribunal sets administrators' salaries for the three federal institutions, it also recommends minimum pay rates for executives at the other public universities and these are used by the Education Department in calculating recurrent grants.

Each of the three Commonwealth institutions will be responsible for establishing performance criteria and determining the performance pay of their executives. But the union wants to contribute to the development of criteria for administrators in the other universities.

Referring to its decision to hold a broader inquiry into the salaries of university executives, the tribunal said it had little information concerning their actual incomes.

But the union says it can provide all the material it compiled as a result of freedom-of-information requests made to every university in the country last year. Some 30 institutions released details of the salaries of their top administrators, revealing that a number of vice chancellors were receiving packages worth $200,000-plus (Pounds 100,000).

Apart from a basic salary, most universities meet their vice chancellors' superannuation contributions plus their travel, entertainment and living expenses - including a house with a maid, gardener, butler (in some cases), and chauffeur-driven luxury car. These benefits can add the equivalent of $75,000, up to half of it tax-free, to the basic income. According to the union figures, Monash University's vice chancellor, Mal Logan, tops the scale with a total package worth more than $250,000 - four times the annual salary of a professor.

The union strongly protested earlier this month at a decision by the Queensland University of Technology to award pay rises to senior executives of up to 28.8 per cent.

The non-productivity based rises were accepted by the QUT council after a report from a working party of senior staff and an independent management consultant had recommended them.

The increase boosts the vice chancellor's salary by 28.8 per cent, adds 16.6 per cent to that of the deputy vice chancellor and 8.9 per cent to deans. NTEU data indicates this will take the vice chancellor's total salary package to more than $180,000 a year.

Senior union officials contrasted the rise with the 2.9 per cent increase that academics will have received over the past 12 months and the 10 per cent pay claim they recently presented to the institutions and the government.

The union fears other universities will follow QUT's example and begin "leap-frogging" each other in a salary race where only the most senior executives benefit.

Officials hope to persuade the Remuneration Tribunal to issue guidelines that will set limits on over-award payments made to senior staff.

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