Academics’ union slams Vice-Chancellor pay packages

Sam Harrison 20 May 2016

The release of figures showing that the pay of university vice-chancellors rose four times as quickly as pay for other academic staff last year has prompted the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) to accuse universities of “blatant double standards”.

The figures were included in a survey published by Times Higher Education on Thursday. It revealed that vice-chancellors received an average pay rise of 5.1% in the year 2014-15, or 6.1% including pay-outs for retirees. At roughly two-thirds of universities, the vice-chancellor’s pay increase exceeded 2%, and in one in five universities the vice-chancellor received a raise of more than 10%. The majority of academic staff received a pay rise of 1.3%.

Last year, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University Sir Leszec Borysiewicz received a salary of £325,000. The average academic salary at the university was £45,636.

The UCU, which represents academic staff including lecturers and librarians, is currently embroiled in a struggle with the employers’ body the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) over pay-related issues. As previously reported by TCS, the UCU has turned out a UCEA offer of 1.1%, calling it “an insult”, and alleges that the employers’ organisation is failing to address job insecurity and the gender pay gap. The UCU has scheduled a strike for 25 and 26 May, .

The UCEA disputed the UCU’s figures, stating that "This pay offer from the employers of 1.1 per cent is in addition to the annual incremental rises received by a majority of staff of 3 per cent. The average sector increase is therefore 2.7 per cent." However, the UCU argued that universities are jeopardising academic recruitment, with general secretary Sally Hunt saying, “Universities need to answer some hard questions about how they will continue to attract and retain the best talent when pay is being held down and hardworking staff are receiving such poor reward for their efforts.”