Percentage pay increases for the highest-earning vice-chancellors have been nearly three times the size of those for senior lecturers over the past decade, according to the Association of University Teachers.
AUT researchers found that the 20 best-paid vice-chancellors in the year to July 31 2002, had average earnings of £178,500 and represented institutions where vice-chancellors' pay had increased 70 per cent since 1994-95.
The 100 best-paid vice-chancellors had average earnings of £143,000 over the same period and represented institutions where pay had risen 49 per cent.
For senior lecturers at the top of their pay scale, average earnings were £38,200, up 25 per cent over this period.
But the figures should be treated with caution. Full disclosure of the earnings enjoyed by vice-chancellors was not compulsory until 1995 and appeared in financial accounts published in 1996. Variations in disclosure practice mean the early accounts need to be treated with care as it is often unclear whether elements such as contribution to the vice-chancellor's pension is included in the earnings figures.
In 1995, when The Times Higher published its first annual survey of vice-chancellors' pay, the highest earner was Sir Derek Roberts, provost of University College London, who earned £118,000. Sir Derek was recently reinstated in the post temporarily - this time he earned £165,000 for his efforts, an increase of 40 per cent.
Mike Fitzgerald, then vice-chancellor of Thames Valley University, was the lowest-paid vice-chancellor, earning £68,000. In the period covered by the most recent accounts, TVU's vice-chancellor, Kenneth Barker, earned £167,000 - up almost 150 per cent. The post attracted a premium after the university ran into trouble over the quality of its courses.
Professor Barker, who was included in the first Times Higher survey as vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, has seen his earnings rise from £107,000 since then - up 56 per cent.
Survey results table
Vice-chancellor and top academic pay 2002-03