Six-figure pay and pensions packages are becoming commonplace for vice chancellors, a THES survey shows.
The survey is based on information disclosed for the first time in the 1993/94 financial statements by more than 80 English higher education institutions. Twenty-eight disclosed packages worth more than Pounds 100,000, with a further 15 of Pounds 90,000 or more.
Variations in disclosure practice mean that the figures must be treated with care. Some institutions such as Queen Mary and Westfield College and University College made full and detailed declarations of pay, pensions and benefits. Others declare only a salary figure, and definitions of benefits vary widely.
Gavin MacKenzie of headhunters Saxon Bampfylde said: "In some cases performance-related pay and other bonuses may add up to 20 per cent." There are no comparable figures for pervious years, but Mr MacKenzie said: "I have a sense that the trend is upwards. There is a willingness on the part of governors to go a little further if it is relevant, and recent clients have not been giving us upper limits to work to."
The figures remain lower than comparable private sector rewards. Mr MacKenzie said a manufacturing company with a turnover of Pounds 125 million - about the size of Southampton University - would expect to pay a salary of Pounds 120-125,000, while a similar sized operation in a high-tech growth sector might offer more than Pounds 200,000.
Within the public sector, permanent secretaries and High Court judges receive salaries of Pounds 95,000, a grade one prison governor gets Pounds 48,000, the chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England Pounds 87,000 and the chief executive of the Medical Research Council Pounds 101,240. The headship of Eton College was reported to be worth Pounds 70-75,000 in 1993.
Nor are vice chancellors the best paid academics. Eleven other members of staff, all from institutions with large medical schools, were listed as being paid more than Pounds 100,000 exclusive of pension rights - three at University College, London were on more than Pounds 120,000. There are almost certainly many more undeclared. Large civic institutions, many of which have medical schools, are the group least likely to have declared top earnings in 1993/94.
Derek Roberts of University College, London, who has the highest declared package, pointed to variations in declaration practices and said: "What other heads of institutions are paid does not concern me. The only issue for me is whether the people who fix my pay think I am worth it". Previously a director of GEC, he said his pay had fallen by a factor of three when he moved to UCL: "The pay of all academic staff needs increasing," he said.
Mike Fitzgerald of Thames Valley University was unconcerned at being the lowest paid vice chancellor: "I am the highest paid person in this institution and I think I am very well paid for what I do".
David Triesman, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said: "I have no problem with vice chancellors being well paid. It is a serious and demanding job. But there is a problem of fairness that their pay appears to have risen in a time when staff have received a series of setbacks. It isn't easy to see what the vice chancellors could have done about this."