Figures recently released reveal that vice-chancellors in Russell Group universities received a pay-hike of over £10,000 in the year 2011/12. Despite pay freezes across the sector, vice-chancellors received a pay rise of over four per cent last year.
This increase coincides with the introduction of higher tuition fees, which see students charged up to £9,000 per annum for Higher Education.
Yet the Russell Group has defended the increase, insisting that the pay-hike is justifiable due to the amount of responsibility allotted to vice-chancellors. They have responsibility for running "complex, multi-million pound organisations that succeed on a global scale".
The vice-chancellor, according to the University of Cambridge website, has responsibility for chairing "the Council of the University, the General Board of the Faculties and the Finance Committee of the Council" in addition to representing the university both in the UK and overseas.
While 'rank-and-file' members of staff only received a pay increase of £150, the Vice-Chancellor of Warwick, Professor Nigel Swift, was awarded a £50,000 pay rise. In the last year, his 'remunerations' rose to £288,000, an increase of 21 per cent.
Following the pay hike, the average remuneration for 2011/12 was £277,000. In contrast, the average wage in the UK for the last financial year stood at £26,500.
University and College Union (UCU) said that the pay rise was partially intended as a means to "get around new pension rules". However, speaking to Times Higher Education, Michael Harrison, from Mercer UK, commented that the scheme is designed to provide benefits to chancellors as remuneration for their work. "This isn't about tax avoidance - it's about providing benefits that won't get taxed out of existence".
Jenny Buckley - News Co-Editor