University bosses paid more than Prime Minister

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Credit: Aida Garnyte

Jasmine Urquhart
Writer

The salaries of the highest-earning Vice Chancellors and teaching, administrative and research staff at UK universities have been analysed in a recent report.

The report shows that 300 staff at all 24 Russell Group universities earn more than £200,000 per year, whilst the Prime Minister earns a comparatively modest salary of £150,000.

The revelation comes after the University and Colleges Union (UCU) reported on the expenses claims of university bosses in February this year.

The average salary for a University Vice Chancellor in the UK is currently £272,000.

Dame Glynis Breakwell, Bath University’s Vice Chancellor, earns £451,000, making her one of the highest-paid university heads in the UK.

Breakwell, whose earnings have caused four Labour MPs to quit their positions as members of Bath University Court and attracted criticism from students, runs a non-Russell Group university.

Chamber of Commerce director Ian Bell defended her pay, saying that the University is “vitally important” to the city of Bath, and “it’s not really surprising that the leadership are well remunerated.”

The University of Glasgow’s Vice Chancellor Anton Muscatelli is currently being paid a salary of £276,000, well below the average wage of Russell Group heads which is £342,000.

Breakwell also claimed for an expenses bill of over £7000, and lives in a rent-free Georgian five bedroom flat in Bath’s city centre.

Muscatelli was also on the list, claiming for expenses ranging from a stay in a five star hotel in Hong Kong to a £3.30 coffee in Starbucks.

It should be noted that university leaders are obliged to give an accurate record of what they have spent money on during business excursions.

The average pay rise for Russell Group leaders from 2016-17 was 3.7%, while other university staff saw an average overall pay increase of just 1.1%.

Former Labour Minister for Education, Andrew Adonis, has been vocalising his views on the way higher education bosses are paid, saying: “The only example the Vice Chancellor of the University of Bath is setting to her staff is one of greed.”

Commenting on the tuition fees, he said that future teachers and doctors “will end up paying back more than those on higher salaries” because of the yearly interest rate and the length of time it takes to pay back the full loan amount.

The former adviser to Tony Blair believes that the “Frankenstein’s monster debt” that students must now contend with is unacceptable, and warned that “massive austerity” would ensue if the current situation isn’t dealt with.

Freedom of Information requests have been made to several university remuneration committees, many of which are allegedly hiding information. Adonis will speak further on the matter at the Universities UK Annual Conference next month and is hoping to encourage higher education reforms.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is continuing its investigation into university staff remuneration.