The University and College Union has called for universities to “lift the lid on murky world of remunerations committees” after four-fifths of institutions refused to release minutes of the meetings that set vice-chancellors’ pay.
Only out of out of 139 institutions sent minutes of their remuneration committees in response to a Freedom of Information request by the union, it said.
Of those about 14 sent redacted minutes, which meant it was difficult to get any information on how senior pay was set in the institutions.
The universities of Glasgow and Stirling were the only ones to include any sort of details on last year’s pay award, the UCU added.
The request follow the publication of Times Higher Education’s annual pay survey last week, which showed that vice-chancellors’ salaries and benefits rose by an average of 5.5 per cent in 2012-13.
Once pension payments were included, the rise stood at 3.3 per cent, taking the average vice-chancellor’s pay package to £254,692.
“Millions of pounds of public money are spent on vice-chancellors’ salaries, yet their pay rise is decided behind closed doors with no accountability,” said Sally Hunt, the UCU’s general secretary.
“The time has come for the lid to be lifted on the hitherto murky world of remuneration committees and senior pay in our universities,” she added.
Students paying £9,000 a year and taxpayers had a right to know about how money was being used, Ms Hunt added, who said there is “strong and legitimate public interest to justify these growing six-figure salaries”.
“All but five university vice-chancellors earned more than the Prime Minister last year, while staff have been on strike six times this year in protest at a measly 1 per cent pay offer”, she added.
According to the UCU, two-thirds of universities that UCU contacted snubbed its request for the minutes of the committee, often citing confidentiality as the reason, while further 15 per cent did not even respond to the call for information.