Female university heads are among the biggest winners in the latest rankings of senior academic salaries as pay rises for vice-chancellors reach record highs.
In this year's pay survey of university heads by The Times Higher , the top earner is a woman, the biggest pay rise for a new appointment went to a woman and the vice-chancellor with the largest salary increase is a woman.
Overall, vice-chancellors earned on average £144,420, and the median pay rise was 6.6 per cent. Comparisons with figures from ten years ago suggest that vice-chancellors' salaries have more than doubled over the decade.
The figures prompted accusations from unions that university heads have lost credibility with the rank and file.
But Universities UK, the body that represents vice-chancellors, argued that the salaries were in keeping with the demands of running complex multimillion-pound organisations.
Laura Tyson, dean of the London Business School, tops this year's table with an annual pay package of £310,000 in 2003-04.
But Professor Tyson's salary is significantly less than some of her colleagues at LBS: the school's accounts reveal that two members of staff earn more than £420,000 a year.
Alison Richard, who became vice-chancellor of Cambridge University in October 2003, was paid 37.5 per cent more than her predecessor, Sir Alec Broers. Professor Richard received salary and benefits of £188,400 - Pounds 51,400 more than Sir Alec.
Janet Finch, vice-chancellor of Keele University, received the biggest pay rise among vice-chancellors. Her salary rose by almost a quarter to Pounds 156,000.
A spokesman for Keele said: "This salary increase was a result of a benchmarking exercise by the senior remuneration committee against salaries of other vice-chancellors in comparably sized universities, which revealed a significant underpayment."
Of the 39 vice-chancellors who received pay rises of more than 10 per cent, eight were female. This group represents two thirds of female vice-chancellors. Six of the 39 were new appointments.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "While thousands of AUT members face the threat of redundancy and many universities are dragging their feet on pay, what kind of message do these increases send out to staff?
"Those who run our universities have a credibility problem that can be solved only by seeking the same for their staff as they have for themselves."
Roger Kline, head of the universities department at lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "Several vice-chancellors say their institutions are under financial pressure and are struggling to implement the national pay agreement, but they reward themselves handsomely. This will go down very badly with teaching staff and researchers whose recent pay rises have barely kept up with inflation."
But a spokeswoman for UUK said: "Vice-chancellors' remuneration packages reflect what it takes to attract, retain and reward individuals of sufficient calibre, experience and talent in a highly competitive international market."
She added that the average rise for chief executives in the private sector last year was 17.6 per cent.
Two heads of new universities appear among the top ten highest earners.
Simon Lee, vice-chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University, was paid Pounds 49,000 in relocation expenses, taking his total pay package to £226,000. He previously earned £116,000 as head of Liverpool Hope College.
Neil Gorman, who became vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent University in October 2003, has an annual income of £219,600. He was paid Pounds 145,000 for ten months' work plus a further £20,000 for work he did prior to becoming vice-chancellor and another £18,000 to cover one-off costs.