United Inscriptic Committee
· News : UK

Heads of UK universities must justify their enormous pay packets

Massive pay packets given to university vice-chancellors in Britain are to be clamped down upon through new measures.

Jo Johnson, minister for UK universities and science, has asked institutions to control the abusively high salaries after it came out that many university heads were earning over £300,000 per year, with some even managing to top £400,000.

He now wants details of all staff earning above £100,000 per year to be made public and for universities to justify salaries over £150,000 to the Office for Students.

Mr Johnson said in an interview with BBC Radio 4:

"We [need to] put an end to the spate of damaging headlines we've seen over recent weeks"

Mr Johnson will announce the plans to university on Thursday and also stated that student fees would rise with inflation next year.

Penalties for unjustified salaries

The plans could see the new regulator 'Office for Students' imposing fines if universities do not provide sound reasons for high pay rates.

Jo Johnson wants to end excessively high salaries for UK vice-chancellors

Johnson added:

"It's important there's confidence fees are put to the uses we intend them to be - we want fees to deliver great teaching and world-class research.

The debate over student finance has, rightly, increased public scrutiny of how universities spend the money they receive from fees.

When students and taxpayers invest so heavily in our higher education system, excessive vice-chancellor salaries send a powerful signal to the outside world.

Greater restraint is required."

In 2015-16, the salaries and benefits for vice-chancellors has increased by 2.5% on the previous year. But several cases revealed pay levels were considerably higher than this.

  • Imperial College London pays its vice-chancellor, Alice Gast, £430,000 a year.
  • David Eastwood at the The University of Birmingham gets a salary of £426,000.
  • University of Exeter vice-chancellor, also a former chairman of Universities UK, Steve Smith gets £426,000

One of the highest paid bosses outside of The Russell Group of universities is Bob Cryan, of the University of Huddersfield, who commands a salary of £365,000.

'Shadowy remuneration committees'

Sally Hunt , who is General secretary of the University and College Union, said vice-chancellor pay was spiralling out of control and is an embarrassment to the UK higher education sector.

She said:

"Over two-thirds of vice-chancellors sit on their own remuneration committees, and three-quarters of universities refuse to publish full minutes of the meetings where leadership pay is decided."

She also accused vice-chancellors of hiding behind "shadowy remuneration committees".