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Fresh warnings issued about vice-chancellor pay

Accounts for two universities are further evidence of ‘one rule for the few at the top and another for everyone else’, according to a union.

Fresh warnings have been issued about pay for university bosses after new figures revealed a number of outgoing vice-chancellors have been given hefty wage packets in their final year of leadership.

New financial accounts for two universities are further evidence of “one rule for the few at the top and another for everyone else”, according to the University and College Union.

Financial statements for the University of Kent, first reported by the Times Higher Education magazine, show that vice-chancellor Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, who left the institution last summer after 10 years at the helm, was paid a salary of £299,000 in 2016/17, up from £279,000 the year before.

In addition, she received a performance-related bonus of £25,000.

A spokesman for the university said: “On 1 October 2016 Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow’s annual salary increased from £246,750 per annum to £265,000 per annum in line with the sector average.

“She also received an additional payment in lieu of employer pension contribution of £37,258 pa (increased from £34,692), giving a total of £302,258.

“The financial statements for 2016/17 show the total remuneration for Dame Julia Goodfellow for the period from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017, reflecting two months of payments at the earlier rate and 10 months at the later rate (Oct 16-July 17). The total remuneration during this time was £298,789, including the payment in lieu of employer pension contribution.”

He added: “In July 2017 she received a one-off bonus of £25k. The rationale for this was sustained high performance and a last year in office ‘remarkable for the leadership attributes that had assisted the organisation and its staff to respond with optimism and vigour to the challenges the organisation confronted’.”

Separate figures for Aston University show that their leader, Professor Dame Julia King, was paid £70,000 for her work as vice-chancellor up to her departure in October 2016, plus £31,000 in performance-related pay.

Accounts for the institution also show that she accrued £9,862 in contributions towards an “unregistered, unfunded, retirement benefits scheme” in lieu of pension contributions.

An Aston University spokesman said: “Professor Dame Julia King did not receive any extra pay as a result of her departure from office.

“Like many other universities, Aston University has a performance-related pay scheme for the role of Vice-Chancellor.

“Dame Julia received a payment of £31,000 for meeting predetermined targets for exceptional leadership, including the achievement of excellent student retention rates, increased student numbers and stronger than average student satisfaction despite a rapid increase in student numbers.

“The receipt of this payment was dependent on the meeting of these strategically important targets, and completely unrelated to her decision to retire from post.”

But Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the figures raise further concerns about vice-chancellors’ pay.

“The controversy over vice-chancellors’ pay has shone a real light on the poor leadership of those in charge of our universities and given the impression that they are just in it for themselves,” she said.

“These latest revelations look like further evidence of one rule for the few at the top and another for everyone else. Picking up massive pay hikes or bonuses as they retire tell the tale of people massively out of touch with reality on campus and in the wider world. There needs to be far greater scrutiny of these types of deals that continue to embarrass our universities.”

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