Home News University Vice Chancellors accused of hypocrisy over huge pay rises

University Vice Chancellors accused of hypocrisy over huge pay rises

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Exeter's Vice Chancellor, Sir Steve Smith, has refused a number of pay rises.
Exeter’s Vice Chancellor, Sir Steve Smith, has refused a number of pay rises.

In 2013 Vice Chancellors of the UK’s top universities received pay rises averaging £22,000, whilst academic employees of these universities were awarded just a one per cent increase. The University of Exeter’s Vice Chancellor, though, has refused pay rises in four of the last five years.

Chancellors of the Russell Group – to which Exeter belongs – saw pay rises of 8.1 per cent on average with overall benefits packages also reaching 5.2 per cent. Union leaders have criticised such inequality of pay rises, calling for an increase at the lower end of the scale. Haydn Morris, from the Unite union, commented that due to the increasing cost of living teaching staff have experienced a “13 per cent cut in pay real terms since 2008”.

According to the Times Higher Education, the average salary of all full-time academic staff at the University of Exeter 2011-2012 was £44,953. The average pay rise of university vice chancellors is therefore equivalent to nearly half a year of work by Exeter’s academic employees.

Such pay rises have been defended as vital for supporting the UK’s world-wide reputation for supplying high quality education by attracting staff of high academic calibre. The University of Exeter is an institution with a turnover of £280 million and is ranked in the top one per cent of universities worldwide.

The University’s Press Office commented that, despite the Exeter’s unprecedented period of success in recent years, “In recognition of the difficult economic conditions that have prevailed in recent years, the Vice Chancellor has refused an increase to his basic salary in four of the last five financial years – including the two most recent.

“In addition, he and the rest of the senior management team at the University also gave up their bonus entitlement in 2013. This means that, in real terms, the Vice Chancellor’s remuneration has decreased, year on year, by around 8.5% – from £386,000 to £342,000”.

Warnings of further industrial action from unions remain though, with further disruption on campuses around the UK possible as the dispute over academic staff pay continues.

Lauren Swift, Copy Editor

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