Vice chancellors' pay

March 31, 1995

The publication of the league table listing vice chancellors' salaries (THES, March 24) is a reflection of the public expectation of openness about pay for the most senior people in both the public and private sectors which has led the funding councils to require disclosure from this year in all university annual accounts.

The warning that "the figures have to be treated with care" is timely but unfortunately you failed to point out a key distinction between the two main pension schemes used in the old and new university sectors. Academic and related staff in the old universities, including vice chancellors, are with few exceptions members of the USS Pension Scheme which has an employer's contribution rate of 18.55 per cent of salary. The equivalent group of staff in the new universities and colleges of higher education are generally members of the TSS Scheme which has a much lower employer's contribution of 8.05 per cent, the balance of the cost being met by a Treasury underwriting. The overall cost of both schemes, taking account of this underwriting, is broadly the same as indeed are the pension benefits to each individual member including vice chancellors. It follows that unless a university is offering an enhanced pension provision to its vice chancellor the cost of the pension scheme to the employing university should be discounted when creating a league table and doing so significantly alters the rank order of your list.

When drawing comparisons with the salaries of senior civil servants we should not forget that they enjoy the benefit of a non-contributory pension scheme. Vice chancellors, however, have to make a personal contribution towards the cost of their pension schemes which is 6.35 per cent of salary in the case of the USS Scheme and of a similar amount for the TSS and some other schemes used by the new universities.

JOHN F. D. LAUWERYS

Secretary and registrar

University of Southampton

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