Business schools fear they are next target in senior pay furore

Dean says that institutions may have to rely on part-time staff if they cannot match industry remuneration

June 13, 2018
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University business schools may have to rely on part-time academics if the furore over senior pay within higher education shifts towards the discipline, a sector leader has claimed.

Francisco Veloso, dean of Imperial College Business School, said that business schools have generally justified high salaries for their leaders and top academics on the basis that “they still tend to be the most significant – on a per professor basis – contributors to the rest of the university in terms of financial contributions”.

He added that it is common for companies to headhunt business academics to work on projects within industry.

While, as a business school leader, these arrangements have to be managed “so it doesn’t compromise their academic integrity”, it also “tells me that effectively my faculty could be out there working in the business sector making more money than they do at the school”, he said.

However, Professor Veloso said that the pay model used by business schools may have to change if they become the next target of the debate around executive pay in higher education and their high salaries are “seen as not adequate or reasonable from the point of view of society”.

“With these types of issues it is hard to guess where they [will] land,” he said during an interview with Times Higher Education.

THE’s latest UK vice-chancellors’ pay survey, published in February, found that the former dean of London Business School was the third highest paid higher education leader in 2016-17, when pension payments were excluded – Sir Andrew Likierman’s basic pay was £448,000, lower only than that for Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, and Christina Slade, vice-chancellor of Bath Spa University, whose £679,000 salary included £429,000 in “compensation for loss of office”. Salary data for deans employed within universities is typically not released.

Professor Veloso said that if business school pay becomes an issue that is “pressed to the limit” then the only solution would be for business schools to “stop having proper full-time faculty” and instead have people in part-time positions who also worked within industry.

“Is that the best thing for the academic mission? I’m not sure it is. That is the difficult balance here,” he said.

He added that business schools could also move towards the model that is used by medical schools, whereby the pay of academics who also do clinical work in the NHS is based on NHS pay scales.

Professor Veloso said this arrangement means that “it is the practitioners that pay the difference of the salary rather than the university”.  

“I think it is a conversation perhaps to have. And [we should] think about the trade-off that exists in having a different model, if we don’t think that [our current pay structure is] the right model to have,” he said.

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