Report highlights university principals’ pay and perks at Scottish universities

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Credit: MIke Kline

Jess Owen
News Editor

A recent report by the University and College Union (UCU) has been released highlighting the inflated salaries of University Principals from Scottish Universities.

University Principals received an average salary package of £277,834 (including salary, benefits, employer pension contributions and bonuses) for the academic year 2015/16, with the University of Glasgow’s Professor Anton Muscatelli among the top 50 highest earning heads of institutions in the UK, with a salary of £276,000. This rises to a total remuneration of £322,000 upon including his £46,000 pension contribution.

Professor Muscatelli of the University of Glasgow was also among the top 20 highest spenders on hotel accommodation and air fares, coming in 8th with a total flight expenditure of £25,298, and 11th place for hotel accommodation at a total of £7,273 for the academic year 2015/16.

The University of Glasgow came 10th in a list of British higher education institutions with more than 100 senior post-holders earning £100,000 plus, with a total of 152 earning between £100,001 – £200,000, and five senior post-holders earning between £200,001 – £300,000 for 2015/16.

Two other principals from Scottish Universities were in the top 50 highest earners, including Professor Sir Jim McDonald of Strathclyde University, who remains the highest earning University Professor in Scotland with a total salary of £295,240, eight times the average salary of staff at the same University.

Following with a salary of £274,000 was Aberdeen University’s Professor Sir Ian Diamond, whose salary increased by 11% between 2014/15 and 2015/16, while the rest of his staff received a 1% increase.

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, said: “When university staff have had a 1% pay increase imposed on them it won’t sit well that some university principals continue to award themselves inflation busting rises and enjoy expense accounts more than the salary of many staff in the institutions they lead. The increasing pay and perks of those at the top do us no favours as we try to make the case for better investment in higher education.”

Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland, described the salary of some university principals as “staggering.” He said: “The figures show just 17 people earning more than £4 million between them. That is outrageous at the best of times, but when students are struggling to make ends meet and staff wages are going up by less than inflation year-in-year-out, it is completely unacceptable.”

However, representatives of principals at Universities Scotland defended the increases in pay, and argued many university leaders had refused to accept pay rises.

A spokesman for Strathclyde University defended the recent increases, stating: “Strathclyde is one of the country’s largest universities with more than 20,000 students and 3,000 staff.

“The university makes a significant contribution to the economy of Scotland and the UK. The principal’s remuneration is a fair reflection of the high calibre of leadership required to grow the University’s global status.”

A spokesman told the Glasgow Guardian: “It should be noted that the Principal’s salary package, which is below the sector average, is decided by a university remuneration committee, which includes both staff and student representation. The Principal has no input to the decision making process of this body.

“It is important to also focus on performance and achievements and not simply salary statistics. Under the Principal’s tenure student numbers have risen significantly, the University is now much more of a global institution with 120 nationalities represented on campus and with academic links to both China and Singapore. Glasgow has risen in almost all of the major league tables and is now well established in the world’s top 100 institutions. In addition, university income has gone up by almost 25 % in the last five years, rising from £468m to £580m. This has all allowed the University of Glasgow to embark on the biggest and boldest expansion in more than 120 years – a £1bn expansion onto the western infirmary site.”

The full report can be read here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8499/Transparency-at-the-top—the-third-report-of-senior-pay-and-perks-in-UK-universities-Feb-17/pdf/ucu_transparencyatthetop2017.pdf