Split 'no' vote lets Cambridge go ahead with secret pay rises

February 26, 1999

Controversial plans to give the vice-chancellor at Cambridge University personal discretionary powers to award selected professors secret salary enhancements of up to Pounds 20,000 will go ahead despite a majority of dons objecting to the plans, writes Phil Baty.

The proposal to allow supplementary payments to professors was approved after a ballot at the university in which only a minority of academics voted in favour of the scheme as it will now stand.

Although many at the university believe a payment scheme is essential to ensure Cambridge can compete in the international recruitment market, many wanted more open procedures, and the ballot has caused concern.

The scheme was backed in full by 495 academics but 573 expressed objections. While 238 people rejected the proposal outright, a further 335 voted for an alternative scheme that would enable special payments to be made but would remove the vice-chancellor's personal discretion and would ensure payments were available for public scrutiny. Because the vote against the plans was split, the scheme will go ahead unamended.

Anthony Snodgrass, former chairman of the university's standards watchdog, the Board of Scrutiny, criticised the minority vote. "I still feel the payments should be made public," he said.

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