Public fury at vice-chancellors’ pay and perks ‘only starting’

More university vice-chancellors will soon face a barrage of negative publicity as details of their pay and perks are released over the coming months, sector experts have warned. Times Higher Education reports.

Last week it emerged that Sir Christopher Snowden, vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, became one of the UK’s most highly-paid higher education leaders in 2016-17, on a pay package totalling £433,000. This compares to the £352,000 he was paid the previous year for the 10 months he employed, and comes after the institution announced plans to axe 75 academic jobs.

“This is just the start,” predicted Andrew Corbett-Nolan, chief executive at the Good Governance Institute, which has advised more than a dozen universities on governance – an area on which Bath was recently criticised by the sector’s main watchdog, the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

“Universities have to be sensitive to the public mood [on executive pay] and not all of them are in tune with the current mood,” added Mr Corbett-Nolan, who believed that “all the other things that constitute vice-chancellors’ pay packages” would come under particular scrutiny when institutional accounts are released in coming months.”

Michael Shattock, visiting professor of higher education at UCL Institute of Education, said that the manner of Dame Glynis’ departure would likely lead to another Hefce investigation – with the matter already reported by former education minister Lord Adonis.

“It’s a certainty that Hefce will conduct some kind of review into what appears to be a redundancy payment,” said Professor Shattock, who cited Hefce’s warning in June that enhanced severance packages “should not as a rule be provided out of public funds”.

Professor Shattock, who researches university governance, said that Dame Glynis, who has led Bath since 2001, was an example of the danger of staying in the job for too long. “If you stay for that long and the remuneration committee thinks it should give you a little something extra every year, 17 years of increments start to add up to a very hefty salary,” said Professor Shattock.

Read more Public fury at vice-chancellors’ pay and perks ‘only starting’

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