Raise for Cambridge Vice-Chancellor higher than staff pay rise

Khushali Dodhia 9 January 2017

Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz earned £349,000 in 2015-16, with a pay rise that was higher than the Russell Group average.

Figures published by Times Higher Education reveal that the average cost of paying the salary and benefits of a Russell Group vice-chancellor increased by 3.7% last year, well above the 1% pay rise most university academics received.

The average earnings of Russell Group university leaders rose to £342,200, with an increase of about £19,000, compared to the amount they received in 2014-15. Once pensions are taken into account, average pay was even higher, at £366,500.

Sir Leszek’s earnings placed him in line with the Russell Group average. However, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor received a significant pay rise of £24,000, higher than the Group’s average.

The University could be spending even more when Sir Leszek’s successor Professor Stephen Toope takes over next academic year. The Renumeration Committee has suggested a salary range of “£400-£450k” for the incoming Vice-Chancellor, which would make him one of the UK’s highest-earning university leaders.

However, Professor Toope would still be earning less than his Australian and American counterparts. According to data published by The Chronicle of Higher Education in December, three out of eight Ivy League presidents earned over $1 million (£640,850 in 2014) in 2014-15.

The average salary for vice-chancellors of Australia’s leading Group of Eight universities in 2015 was A$1,091,000 (£536,320 in 2015).

Staff from UK universities staged a two-day walkout in May over the 1.1% pay rise offer. Some employees saw take-home pay fall by over £1,000 last year as employee pension contributions went up.

A spokesperson for the Cambridge branch of the University and College Union told Varsity: “Pay for most University employees has suffered from years of below-inflation increases, and many employees are retained not by the size of their salaries, but by commitment to their job.

“It is disappointing that the Vice-Chancellor is not able to stand with the majority of his University’s employees in the matter of pay, and has instead received far more generous increases, both in relative and cash terms.”

They continued: “Of course we recognise that, despite Cambridge being the richest UK University, our VC does not have the highest pay packet.

“But we are nevertheless disappointed that there is still not sufficient restraint to demonstrate that the VC appreciates the financial realities faced by many University employees in this expensive city, and the sacrifices that they make in their service to the University.”

A University spokesperson defended the Vice-Chancellor’s pay package, telling Varsity: “The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s leading institutions, and must compete globally to attract the best qualified individuals.”