V-c turns down pay hike and donates consultancy cash

Move comes as unions continue to fight below-inflation pay offer

February 28, 2014

Source: www.dur.ac.uk

The vice-chancellor of Durham University has rejected a discretionary pay rise this academic year and will instead receive the 1 per cent increase being offered to rank and file staff, it has emerged.

Chris Higgins has also donated the £80,000 he has earned in consultancy fees during his tenure as vice-chancellor to causes at Durham, according to the university

In 2012-13, Professor Higgins’ salary was £244,000, in addition to a pension of £39,000.

This was a 5.2 per cent rise on his remuneration (salary plus pension) the previous year. In 2011-12, he received a 10 per cent increase in remuneration.

Unions have been fighting a national decision to give university staff a 1 per cent pay rise this year, the fifth consecutive year of below-inflation pay rises.  

In a statement, Clare Curran, Durham’s director of human resources, said: “In 2013 [Professor Higgins] personally opted not to take a pay rise and received the 1 per cent cost of living allowance like everybody else in the university.”

“Under Professor Higgins’ leadership, Durham has achieved UK top-5 and a world top-100 university status and has shown greatly improved performance in research and education,” she added.

“Despite this, Professor Higgins’ salary remains below average when considered in the context of other leading research-led UK universities.”

The vice-chancellor has donated his consultancy fees to various student causes, including travel grants and the purchase of a tympani for the university orchestra, according to a university spokeswoman.

News of Professor Higgins’ pay decision emerged in the student newspaper Palatinate.

It follows articles outlining a proposed centralisation of services at Durham’s colleges, which some college principals and student representatives fear will turn them into halls of residence in all but name.

The university has insisted there are no plans to reorganise the college system.

Last December it emerged that two vice-chancellors – Simon Gaskell, principal of Queen Mary University of London, and Paul Curran, vice-chancellor of City University, London - had rejected pay rises for 2012-13.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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