To The Times
From Louise Richardson’s complaint that her salary as Vice Chancellor of Oxford (£350,000 a year) is not in the same league as footballers and bankers, to the yacht-owning George Holmes at Bolton (£222,120 a year and a £1m loan to buy a house) saying he is underpaid compared with top US institutions, our university leaders have continually embarrassed the education sector with the arrangements for their pay. In the past five years, Vice Chancellors have enjoyed an average pay increase of 22%, despite pleading poverty every time it came to staff pay. More than two-thirds of VCs either sit on the committee that sets their pay or can attend its meetings. It is time to lift the lid on these secretive university remuneration committees, irrespective of how much charity work VCs may do. (An edited version of a letter from Sally Hunt, general secretary, University and College Union).
Young people are incurring sizeable debt in order to go to university, only to be taught, in many cases, by graduate lecturers who are paid a pittance. Some don’t encounter a proper professor face to face in the three (or four) years they are at the institution. The increase in the number of people going into further education has happened at a time when government has adopted a hands-off policy to funding, and the administrators have taken advantage of it all to pad their salaries, getting up to little tricks like accepting full-paying Chinese students at the expense of British citizens, or so it seems.
Justified criticism or no it is time to reform university administration and restore more realistic incomes and better teaching and services for those who pay – that is, the students. After all, universities and colleges are non-profit organizations, not tax-payimg corporations. If they have the cash to pay six figure salaries they should be paying tax. And I will refrain from commenting on the tired old cliche along the lines “my salary doesn’t match American pay”. I had this all the time at business school, where one was told that high top management salaries reflected the need to recruit the best people world-wide. Self-serving nonsense.