Many college managers are getting a raw pay deal compared with ordinary lecturers, with some accepting a pay freeze last year, their representative body has said.
There has been no increase in the average percentage pay rise for college principals since incorporation seven years ago, despite their taking on more responsibilities, new figures show.
The Association of Colleges' annual survey of senior managers' pay in further education and sixth form colleges reveals that, on average, principals received a 4.06 per cent pay rise for this year, with vice-principals getting 2.13 per cent and heads of department just 1.89 per cent.
While the average principals' pay rise looks healthy against the national settlement of 3.3 per cent for lecturers, the AoC said that some principals received no pay rise at all, while others were making up for pay freezes, or in some cases cuts, in previous years.
Sue Dutton, the AoC's deputy chief executive, said rises in senior college managers' pay were likely to drop further compared with teaching staff from next year, when a £50 million teachers' pay initiative is introduced to reward the best lecturers and those gaining professional qualifications.
The AoC is calling for a similar initiative for managers and support staff to avert a recruitment and retention crisis. Figures for this year show colleges had a management staff turnover of 9.9 per cent. Turnover for support staff was even higher at 13.6 per cent, while for teaching staff it was 8.9 per cent.
Ms Dutton said: "There is a strong case for staff who fall outside the existing initiative to receive similar boosts to pay to counteract the negative effects of a buoyant labour market."
The survey shows that the average principal's salary is £64,900. One in ten principals is receiving a basic salary of less than £53,796, and a quarter get less than £59,507. Another quarter get more than £70,599. The top 10 per cent of earners receive more than £77,613.
One in ten vice-principals is on a basic salary of less than £38,792. The average salary is £46,570. Heads of department receive an average salary of £37,902, with the top 10 per cent getting more than £47,000 and the bottom 10 per cent receiving less than £29,809.
The figures will interest union leaders, who have warned that colleges failing to sign the national agreement for a 3.3 per cent pay rise for lecturers, backdated to August, could face industrial action.
Natfhe, the college lecturers' union, said last month that only half of colleges had signed the agreement between employers and unions. But this week the AoC said 70 per cent had signed.
"This is a very good result so far, given the number of colleges that have lost funding due to not achieving their student numbers and cuts in European funding," Ms Dutton said.