Vice-chancellors have accepted far greater pay rises than the increases given to their staff.
University heads got a median rise of 6 per cent last year, according to a survey by The THES . Some 33 vice-chancellors accepted an increase of 10 per cent or more. Lecturers and researchers got 3.5 per cent.
A woman tops The THES league table for the first time. Laura Tyson, dean of the London Business School, earned £316,000 last year.
Sally Hunt, president of the Association of University Teachers, said: "The fact that the average pay rise for a vice-chancellor was 6.1 per cent is astonishing, particularly when you think that they keep saying that they don't have enough money to pay their staff a decent, competitive wage.
"Many university employees are sick of seeing vice-chancellors' pay shoot into the stratosphere while theirs remains more or less rooted to the spot.
If there's enough money to give vice-chancellors exorbitant pay packages, there should be enough to pay rank-and-file staff an acceptable wage."
Tom Wilson of lecturers' union Natfhe said: "It beggars belief that vice-chancellors' pay should rise by almost double the 3.5 per cent awarded to their staff. We call on the Higher Education Funding Council for England to halt this slide to greed and ensure that the same modern standards of fairness and transparency apply to vice-chancellors' pay as to pay of all other staff."
One vice-chancellor accepted a pay rise more than seven times that offered to his staff. Brian Roper - then vice-chancellor of the University of North London - saw his pay package soar .4 per cent, taking his income up £34,000 to £158,000, after accepting bonuses relating to the merger of UNL with London Guildhall University.
Roderick Floud, former vice-chancellor of London Guildhall, took a 16.8 per cent rise, taking his income up £19,000 to £132,000. He is now vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, created from the merger, while Mr Roper is chief executive.
Professor Floud said the rises were due to bonuses paid in the run-up to merger. He said that comparing the earnings between the two years was invalid. "One of the objectives of the merger was a substantial decline in management costs," he said.
Industrial relations at London Met are at an all-time low.
Richard Kirkwood, a senior lecturer and Natfhe representative at London Met's north campus, said: "It's outrageous that vice-chancellors' pay is four or five times that of a lecturer. We don't think they make that much of a contribution. If it's a bonus in relation to the merger, most of the efforts are on work that's being carried out by staffI and I don't hear that we are going to get bonuses."
The top-earning vice-chancellor, Professor Tyson, chaired Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers when he was US president. She joined LBS from the University of California, Berkeley, Business School, where she was dean.
The second highest-paid, Sir Richard Sykes, rector of Imperial College London, earns £218,000, but his pension from GlaxoSmithKline is reported to be £700,000 a year. He also earns £46,000 a year as non-executive director of global mining group Rio Tinto.