Vice-chancellors got an inflation-busting average pay rise of 4.8 per cent in 1997-98.
The best-paid vice-chancellor was the dean of the London Business School - a position held in turn by George Bain, Michael Earl and John Quelch between August 1997 and July 1998 - earning Pounds 207,000 pro rata. Even better paid was another member of staff at the school, who earned more than Pounds 220,000.
George Bain has now become vice-chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast. Although the move involved a pay-cut, he still managed a big improvement on the previous vice-chancellor's salary - up by almost a quarter, although part of this increase was due to a relocation allowance. His predecessor, Sir Gordon Beveridge, who retired two years early, received Pounds 109,000 compensation for loss of office.
Other big earners included David VandeLinde, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath. His salary went up by 8.9 per cent to Pounds 147,000.
That figure includes the cost to the university of a loan that VandeLinde took out to buy his N-registration Ford Scorpio; in July 1998 he still owed Pounds 16,701. Since then he has taken a Pounds 7,000 pay-cut in return for more holidays.
Sir Derek Roberts, provost of University College London, was the third highest-paid vice-chancellor, earning Pounds 146,194.
The fifth highest earner was the vice-chancellor of a new university - Leslie Wagner of Leeds Metropolitan University. He was paid Pounds 139,000 - up 6.9 per cent - while just seven of his 2,200 staff earned more than Pounds 50,000 and none earned more than Pounds 90,000.
The figures also highlight those vice-chancellors who were paid much more than any of their staff. In addition to Professor Wagner, David Johns, who retired as vice-chancellor of the University of Bradford on July 31 last year, was paid Pounds 128,000, while just eight staff earned more than Pounds 50,000 and none more than Pounds 80,000. In contrast, the vice-chancellors of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge earned less than many of their colleagues.
"As always, there is no doubt that vice-chancellors deserve every penny but a university's achievements depend on all its staff as much as the individual at the top," said Paul Cottrell, assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers. "We don't begrudge vice-chancellors their pay increase but yet again they are paying themselves a far greater increase than they do their staff. We wait to hear of a vice-chancellor who refuses to take a bigger pay rise than his staff. We suspect it will be a long wait."
A handful of vice-chancellors received a pay cut. The biggest of these - down 4.3 per cent to Pounds 89,000 - went to Mike Fitzgerald of Thames Valley University. Dr Fitzgerald later resigned after the Quality Assurance Agency reported that the university's academic standards were threatened.
Many new vice-chancellors earned less than their predecessors. The most striking was Alexandra Burslem of Manchester Metropolitan University, who earned .3 per cent less than the previous incumbent, Sir Kenneth Green. Just three new vice-chancellors earned more than their predecessors, including George Bain.
Some departing heads of institutions received bumper pay-offs. Southampton Institute paid Pounds 123,000 in enhanced pension and Pounds 34,000 in other payments when director David Leyland took early retirement. While Robin Butlin, former principal of University College of York St John, received a Pounds 113,690 pay-off with an extra Pounds 88,807 for pension enhancements. The Chichester Institute of Higher Education paid Pounds 66,667 compensation to a staff member. Four people who earned over Pounds 50,000 received Pounds 338,000 from Imperial College, London as compensation for loss of office.
Leader and opinion, page 14