Some 130 vice-chancellors and higher education heads have accepted larger pay rises than they offered staff, according to an analysis by The Times Higher .
While the median pay rise for vice-chancellors was 6.1 per cent in the year to July 31 2003, lecturers were offered 3.5 cent by the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association.
Moreover, 82 vice-chancellors accepted better-than-average pay increases, with of them accepting more than 10 per cent. While some of these were due to new appointments, one-off payments and exceptional items, staff remain concerned that they do not benefit from similar perks.
Duncan Rice, principal of Aberdeen University, received the biggest pay rise among vice-chancellors this year. His salary and benefits package leapt by almost 60 per cent to £235,000.
The second highest pay hike was at London South Bank University. Deian Hopkin, the vice-chancellor, earned £131,000 last year, up almost a third on the previous year. The sum includes £11,000 in performance-related incentive payments that were delayed from the previous year. Had they been paid on time, the increase would have been 5.3 per cent.
Third in line was Kel Fidler's per cent pay rise at Northumbria University, which took his pay to £161,000.
A spokeswoman said: "Professor Fidler joined Northumbria after the commencement of the financial year, so his salary for 2001-02 did not represent a 12-month period.
"In addition, his move to Northumbria involved a transfer from his original pension plan to the Teachers' Pension Scheme, which imposes a cap on contributions payable. The university made an adjustment in 2002-03 to Professor Fidler's salary to compensate for this situation."
At the London School of Economics, Anthony Giddens earned £196,000 in his final year in office, up 11 per cent on the previous year.
Chris Husbands, president of the Association of University Teachers at LSE, said: "This is despicable news. It is particularly so when one considers how hostile Giddens was even to modest demands by his staff for an increase in London weighting. While he was director, his general attitude towards spending always favoured ostentatious physical refurbishments at the expense of staff pay."
A spokeswoman for LSE said the salary element of his pay package had risen 6 per cent in addition to the annual pay award.
Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, had a pay rise of 10 per cent, taking her salary to £167,000.
David Packham, president of Bath AUT, said: "The AUT is, at present, in dispute with Ucea. Ucea is urging a pay structure that could result in a fall in earnings for staff. Even the prime minister acknowledges that academic pay has fallen and workloads have risen massively. Against this background, we hope the vice-chancellor is pressing Ucea hard for her colleagues to enjoy a similar deal."
Brian Roper, chief executive of London Metropolitan University, earned £168,000, up 6.3 per cent on last year; he has since been made vice-chancellor. The vice-chancellor for the accounting period, Roderick Floud, was paid £148,000, up 12 per cent; he has since been made president of the university.
Greg Barnett, chair of lecturers' union Natfhe at London Metropolitan University, said: "I would doubt that many of the staff will appreciate this news, particularly in the light of their own pay. If these pay increases were justified in the light of the merger, given the amount of work that the merger generated and continues to generate for ordinary staff, it's they who deserve the rise.
"From the union's point of view, there are aspects of the merger that have not gone well including, until very recently, almost non-existent industrial relations between the unions and senior management."
A spokesman for the University of Abertay Dundee, where principal Bernard King's pay increased 13 per cent to £145,000, said its remuneration committee of independent businesspeople had taken into account the pay for comparable posts in higher education and also in the public and private sectors.
But Steve Reynolds, president of Abertay's AUT, said the rise was more than four times greater than for lecturers, amounting in cash terms to a teaching fellow's entire annual salary.
He said: "This disparity seems difficult to justify when staff have contributed so much towards achieving the university's ambitions. We feel undervalued."
New vice-chancellors appointed on salaries far higher than their predecessors include Roland Levinsky, formerly deputy provost at University College London, now vice-chancellor of Plymouth University.
He was appointed on a salary of £192,000, some 21 per cent higher than his predecessor, John Bull.
Some vice-chancellors showed generosity when it came to their pay.
Janet Trotter, principal of Gloucestershire University, donated £9,007 of her £128,000 salary to the university.
David VandeLinde, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, waived £4,000 of his £181,000 salary and donated it towards scholarships. As Professor VandeLinde is a high-rate tax payer, the sum will provide a £2,000 bursary for more than three years.
Survey results table
Vice-chancellor and top academic pay 2002-03