Academics at Edinburgh University are demanding an independent inquiry into pension payments of almost £130,000 to Lord Sutherland, who stepped down from the Edinburgh principal-ship in 2002.
The annual accounts reveal that Lord Sutherland, who was on a salary of Pounds 166,000 excluding £23,000 in pension contributions, received enhanced pension benefits of £129,760 in 2002-03.
Douglas Brodie, vice-president of Edinburgh's Association of University Teachers, said the branch was shocked to learn of the payment since Lord Sutherland had left the university voluntarily midway through a five-year contract.
He said: "There is no apparent justification for the university agreeing to make such a payment out of public funds. The contrast with the position of ordinary employees of the university is stark. Anyone else leaving in such circumstances would receive nothing.
"Confidence in the university's capacity to act as a responsible custodian of public funds can be restored only by an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the gratuity."
A university spokesperson said: "The pension arrangements for the conclusion of Lord Sutherland's term as principal were agreed as part of his contract of employment and were in line with USS [Universities Superannuation Scheme] provisions.
"These arrangements were agreed by the court remuneration committee and were subject to the normal audit procedures."
At Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies, the accounts show that the college made pension contributions of £90,000 in respect of Eddie McIntyre, the principal, up from £11,000 the previous year.
Survey results table
Vice-chancellor and top academic pay 2002-03