Vice-chancellors’ pay has risen almost three times as fast as the salaries of rank-and-file university staff over the past five years, a new report on pay and perks enjoyed by academia’s top brass says.
University leaders were paid an average salary of £272,432 in 2014-15, up by 3 per cent on the previous year, with the University of Oxford’s then-vice-chancellor Andrew Hamilton receiving the highest overall pay package of £462,000, according to the University and College Union’s latest round-up of university pay.
University staff were awarded a national pay increase of 2 per cent over the same period, taking the overall pay rises received over the past five years to 5 per cent, according to the UCU’s report, titled Transparency at the Top, published on 11 February.
In comparison, executive pay has risen by 14 per cent on average over five years since 2009-10, the union says.
This year’s report also examines the grace-and-favour homes used by some vice-chancellors at their university’s expense, with the average market sale value of these residences standing at £1.15 million.
The most valuable property is inhabited by Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge, whose residence was valued at just over £4.5 million.
The property used by Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, is valued at £2.85 million, while Simon Gaskell, principal of Queen Mary University of London, lives in a property valued at £2.1 million, according to the UCU.
However, just 24 universities provided full information to the UCU’s Freedom of Information requests about accommodation. A further 22 did not provide an estimate on the accommodation provided, eight used FoI exemptions and 18 did not provide any response at all.
The new report also scrutinises flights taken by vice-chancellors, who spent an average of £8,560 on air travel in 2014-15, of which half were in first or business class.
According to the UCU figures, the highest spender was Sir Jim McDonald, vice-chancellor at the University of Strathclyde who spent £41,891 in total, while 21 vice-chancellors flew exclusively first or business class.
In addition, vice-chancellors spent an average of £163.80 a night on hotel rooms, while average expenses were £2,205.
The report also found that universities spent almost £500,000 on average on management consultancy fees in 2014-15, with the University of Reading the top spender on £4.4 million.
Commenting on vice-chancellors’ pay, a Universities UK spokesman said that remuneration packages were determined by independent remuneration committees at each individual institution, with details available online in universities' annual reports.
“The salaries of university leaders in the UK are in line with those in competitor countries and comparable to similarly sized public and private organisations,” he added.