`Perks' cause resentment

November 18, 1994

The funding council's investigation of vice chancellors' salaries (THES, October 28) should be placed in the context of the wider debate over standards in British public life. I hope that HEFCE will investigate also the "perks" received by vice chancellors and principals: the sums spent on their houses, cars and entertainment allowances. There is much evidence, admittedly anecdotal, that in many institutions these (unaccountable) bonuses have increased dramatically in recent years. This gives rise to considerable bitterness among academics, who have, over the same period, been subjected to increased financial stringency, while the hardest-hit institutions have suffered departmental closures and staff redundancies.

I do not know whether any vice chancellors have spent weekends in Paris paid for by friendly millionaires with vested interests, but this is the direction of recent trends. If HEFCE takes a firm stand at this point, we might avoid a "sleaze" scandal in higher education to rival that currently embarrassing the government.

RUTH D. WHITEHOUSE Hermon Hill Wanstead, London E11.

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