Universities must justify lavish Vice Chancellor Pay under new guidelines

Eddie Spence 10 January 2018

Universities will have to publicly justify the size of the Vice Chancellors pay packet if it exceeds 8.5 times the institutions median salary, under new rules aimed at cracking down on excessive VC salaries.

Following a series of revelations regarding astronomical VC pay, particularly the £486,000 per annum salary of Glynis Breakwell, VC of Bath University, the new guidelines aim to ensure that University officials receive “fair, appropriate and justifiable” remuneration. Breakwell subsequently quit following widespread outcry.

The new guidance also aims to make the remuneration process more transparent. Many Vice Chancellors, including Stephen Troope, Vice Chancellor of Cambridge, sit on the committees that decide their own pay. While Troope is said to ‘leave the room’ when his own pay is discussed, many have raised concerns about the opacity of the process.

Professor Troope, who became Vice Chancellor last year, has publicly defended his own £365,000 pay packet and criticised the concept of pay cuts to VCs as “reaffirming the that the UK is not operating in the open market for global talent” Currently 80% of UK institutions lie have a multiplier between 4.5 to 8.5. Whether or not the Troope’s salary would be over the 8.5 multiplier is unknown, however given it exceeds the average VC salary by £100,000, it is not unlikely Cambridge will breach the new guidelines.

The new guidelines, drawn up by the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), have been criticised for being to weak. Compliance with them is voluntary, and The University and College Union (UCU), which represents University staff members, have noted how closely linked the CUC is to the Vice Chancellors.

Speaking to The Guardian, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “If we are serious about tackling the problems of senior pay and perks in our universities, then we need a body not so closely linked to vice-chancellors to look at it.”

“Last month the CUC said it saw no evidence that most vice-chancellors are paid an unreasonable amount. Ministers have been calling for a check on massive pay hikes for university leaders for years and we have highlighted how many sit on the remuneration committee that sets their own pay.”

“The time has come for vice-chancellors and their supporters to be removed from the setting of their pay and a national register of senior pay and perks.”

TCS has contacted the Cambridge branch of UCU for comment.

TCS has contacted the University for comment.