“Outrageous”: Over 70k disparity in Masters’ pay

Image credit: Vysotsky via Wikimedia Commons

An investigation carried out by The Cambridge Student has revealed a significant discrepancy in the pay received by college masters. 

The figures

Under the Freedom of Information Act, TCS asked all the Cambridge colleges to disclose the salaries and expenses of their masters (or similar senior management). Of the colleges that responded, Pembroke College’s Master Sir Richard Dearlove was the highest paid at £103,467 per annum. Other comparatively high salaries included that of Sir Gregory Winter, Master of Trinity College, who was paid £88,817 per annum. Dame Barbra Stocking, President of Murray Edwards College, earned £74,175 from her role. 

The figures for Masters’ pay are not always this high. Fitzwilliam College compensated Nicola Padfield £30,342 for her services as Master. Meanwhile, Selwyn and Churchill Colleges paid the Masters at their colleges £39,062 and £38,419 respectively.

Of the 29 undergraduate colleges, 11 colleges were able to provide us with details of masters’ salaries and benefits. Seven colleges were unable to provide any specific details beyond the fact that they pay less than £100,000. Four colleges declined to comment and six failed to respond to our FOI request, despite the fact that the statutory 20 day deadline had passed at the point of publication. 

Trinity College had high Master's Lodge expenses, which stood at £102,692 whilst Corpus Christi’s Master’s Lodge expenses were only £9,436.

Murray Edwards Controversy

The high figures for Murray Edwards College in particular have raised eyebrows, given the College's lack of wealth in comparison to others such as Trinity and Pembroke. According to a News Feature in Varsity from 2006 by Jo Trigg, Murray Edwards’ fixed assets stood at £52,852,893, while Trinity’s financial endowment was approximately £700,000,000, for the financial year 2004/5.

Murray Edwards’ JCR President Olivia Barber told TCS: “We were totally unaware that this was the situation and are eager to hear the college’s justification for this. We feel that these figures are surprising given the fact that Trinity College’s assets are considerably greater than those of Murray Edwards. Nonetheless, if this means that Murray Edwards can officially accredit itself as a Living Wage employer, this could potentially be great news.” 

The Trinity College Students’ Union declined to comment, as did Pembroke College Student’s Union. The latter wished to discuss the issue with the College before commenting.

One anonymous Murray Edwards student said: “I was shocked when shown these figures. A frequent justification for high-rent, non-refurbished rooms and the limited availability of student loans and grants at Murray Edwards is the lack of funds. It seems outrageous to me that our President, who used to be Oxfam’s CEO, earns near the amount of Trinity’s President [Master], where funds are unequivocally of an entirely different dimension."

The cheapest rents at Murray Edwards are those for shared rooms (not a set), a termly rent of £1,005. The most expensive is a 39 week contract for a refurbished split double room, a termly rent of £1,831. 

Part time or Full time?

However, when contacted for comment, Murray Edwards’ Senior Bursar Robert Gardiner questioned the comparison. “[The] President of Murray Edwards College is a full time post – very full time”, and compared it to the Fitzwilliam master position, which is a “part-time post”. Trinity College’s Senior Bursar, Rory Landman, also noted: “Trinity College [is] the largest college [and that] Sir Gregory Winter has no other post in the University ... I suspect we are not comparing like with like.”

In relation to President Stocking's contribution to the college, Gardiner added: "I know that where she[President Stocking] takes roles not directly related to the College - but which indirectly benefit it - the reward is made good to the College to the extent that it actually wins financially. It is a five figure sum and it is recorded by those bodies that her remuneration is donated to charity, i.e. the college."

 TCS confirmed with Fitzwilliam, Selwyn and Churchill Colleges that their masters served part time. However, there have been suggestions from some that this is in itself misleading. The Master of Hughes Hall is technically a part time position – Senior Bursar Neil Taylor confirmed their Head of House is contracted for 17.5 hours per week. However, he said: “I would be surprised if he did not work double those on average ... “At the stage of life where people seek appoint[ment] to such positions they are not doing it for the pay nor do they work only contracted hours in my experience.” 


This article was updated 10:51 Friday 28 November 2014: Murray Edwards figures for National Insurance contribution and Master's Lodge expenses were removed pending further investigaiton.


APOLOGY: The Cambridge Student would like to offer an unreserved apology to the members of Murray Edwards College, and in particular to President Barbara Stocking, for a miscalculation in our analysis of Master's expenses last week. We erroneously attributed £100,921.56 to Stocking's expenses, when in actuality it is around £60,000 less. 

We recognise that such misinformation is deeply damaging to the College, and have removed the incorrect information from our online article. The Cambridge Student strives to be as accurate as possible and lessons have been learnt from this incident that will prevent any repeat from occuring. 

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