The gulf in pay between academics and senior university administrators was underlined this week by a new report that reveals that top finance officers can earn up to £98,000 a year.
A survey of the salaries of finance officers working in health, education and local government services by the company Hays shows that all grades of finance officers in higher education earn above the public sector average.
The most senior financial staff at universities in London can earn up to £98,000 a year, while the average pay packet is £74,833 for their counterparts in universities across the country. More junior heads of finance across all institutions typically earn £46,583 a year, and newly qualified finance officers get an average of £29,229.
But the survey also reveals that finance officers in further education are the lowest paid in the public sector. A director of finance at a college can expect to earn £56,000 a year on average, rising to a maximum of £78,000 in London. Heads of finance are paid an average of £42,402 and newly qualified accountants £28,292.
Barry Lovejoy, of lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "No surprises here - the further education sector comes top of the low pay league again - and the majority of lecturers can only dream of the salaries finance staff receive."
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said that the salary survey illustrated the pay divide between academics and other professionals.
"Academic pay over the years has fallen in real terms," she said. "Many (academics) could move out of higher education and earn these types of salaries or more, but the majority want to stay because of a love for their subject and dedication to their students."