Vice-chancellors have accepted pay rises of more than double the increases they are offering their staff.
University heads got an average rise of 6.3 per cent in 1999-2000, about twice the rate of inflation. Lecturers and researchers have been offered 3 per cent.
David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "It is shameless that vice-chancellors can consider paying themselves that on the backs of the people who do the work and on whom they have imposed a 3 per cent pay rise."
"Every vice-chancellor whose pay review has been 3 per cent or better should see that their staff's pay is reviewed in a similar way, by an independent pay review body," he added.
Tom Wilson, head of the universities department at lecturers' union Natfhe, said: "How can Natfhe members be expected to settle for 3 per cent when their vice-chancellors take over twice as much? Why should we recommend that Natfhe members should accept any less?" The latest 6.3 per cent increase follows rises of 4.9 per cent in 1998-99 and 4.8 per cent in 1997-98. The figures are boosted by generous pay rises awarded to the most highly paid vice-chancellors.
Despite the rises, vice-chancellors' salaries remain modest compared with senior figures in the private sector.
Highest paid was the dean of the London Business School, John Quelch, who earned £266,000 after accepting a pay rise of 5.6 per cent. Professor Quelch announced earlier this month that he will step down at the end of the academic year for personal reasons.
A spokeswoman for the LBS said: "We pay what the market demands. We are competing internationally for a small pool of talent and have no hesitation in paying a salary that reflects that."
Michael Wright, vice-chancellor of Aston University, was the second highest-paid university head.
His 10.3 per cent pay rise - taking his salary to £161,000 - put him £12,000 per year above the vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Maxwell Irvine. The two universities are developing an academic and business plan for a new, fully-integrated university, with the possibility of a merger remaining on the cards.
Professor Wright, a 53-year-old mechanical engineer, lists his hobbies as shooting, travelling and classic motorcycles. He declined to speak to The THES .
Third in the table was Arthur Lucas, principal of King's College, London, whose 15.3 per cent pay rise took his salary to £158,000. Professor Lucas, who was educated in Australia and the United States, has been principal of King's since 1993.
It is not only heads of institutions who are paid in the hundreds of thousands, the survey showed. Some 620 people working in British universities earned more than £100,000. A further 7,115 earned more than £50,000. But the pay rises for senior figures are far greater than for more junior staff.
Of 163 institution heads, 18 accepted pay rises of 3 per cent or less, with a further ten taking a pay cut, either actual or compared with the salary earned by a predecessor.
The remaining 135 - 83 per cent of vice-chancellors - accepted pay rises greater than those they are imposing on their staff.
Former heads of institutions saw their salaries rocket as they prepared to leave the universities and colleges they ran. Robert Ely of Rose Bruford College had his pay more than doubled after receiving a vote of no confidence from his staff.
Lord Oxburgh, former rector of Imperial College, London, saw his pay rise by per cent.
"It strikes me as an extraordinary sum for a year just before the pension entitlement is calculated," said Mr Triesman.
- The AUT and Natfhe are holding a national rally in London today followed by a demonstration outside the offices of Universities UK, formerly the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.
The unions will present Baroness Warwick, the chief executive of UUK, with a petition calling for an end to pay discrimination against women, and requesting a meeting to discuss the 3 per cent pay offer.