Credit: Johnny Briggs via Unsplash

University under fire for giving higher-paid staff a larger Covid-19 bonus

By Lucy Dunn

Staff on the lowest salaries will receive the least.

The University of Glasgow has faced a Twitter backlash as the University’s “Covid bonus” for staff results in the highest earners receiving the greatest cut. 

Former rector, Aamer Anwar, reveals the staff bonus will vary depending on your current salary, with the lowest earners receiving £250 whilst those on top salaries will get paid an extra £600. Anwar shared a clip of the message sent by the University Principal, tweeting: “A real kick in the teeth for lowest paid staff”, stating that those earning between £68,000 and £100,000 per annum will receive just under two-and-a-half times that of the lowest earners. Anwar states that lower-earning University staff are paid around £18,000 annually and that this reduced bonus is “sad, disrespectful and insulting” to those who struggled the most.

Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian, Anwar told us: “When I became Rector some four years ago, I said ‘Whilst I welcome the billion pounds building project that will take this University into the twenty-first century, I sound a very loud note of caution, such buildings must never be at the expense of students or staff. It is the students and staff that gave this University its heart and soul, its reputation and history.’

“In that period, I met not only academics but cleaners, janitors, security, catering staff, administrators, technicians and librarians. Those on grade 1-3 are the University’s lowest paid staff, often relying on overtime to make ends meet, their job security always hung in the balance with the threat of redundancy under the guise of increased efficiency, but this time even though they suffered the most during the pandemic, they have been treated with shameful contempt.

“To see a Principal, a world-renowned economist who earns a minimum of £298,000, gifting his staff a bonus rising according to one’s grade ‘with best wishes and my sincere thanks to each one of you, the people at heart of the University of Glasgow‘ shows just how embarrassingly out of touch senior management are.

“£600 in a pay packet would have made a great difference to the pay packet of a cleaner or janitor on £17,300, in comparison to those on salaries of between £86,000 to £120,000, but instead the perverse conclusion reached by those at the top was that poorest should get £250 whilst the richest got £600.  Why not the other way round? In fact, why not get those at the top to give their bonuses to those at the bottom?

“Glasgow University can be very proud in leading on opening access to students from deprived backgrounds, but the miserable treatment of their lowest-paid employees can only be described as rank hypocrisy and must be reversed immediately.”

The original tweet has received over 100 retweets, with many quoting it and tagging the University. Suzy Houston, senior lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, commented: “Every single member of OU [The Open University] staff got £500, regardless of salary. We’re talking about a pandemic where inequalities were magnified and the poorest in society were disproportionately affected. Why make that worse?” 

Universities have recently scrutinised for handing higher tiers of staff large pay packets, with the salaries of principals working at the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen stated across both The Scotsman and The Tab. The president of NUS Scotland told The Scotsman that “It beggars’ belief that some university principals continue to enjoy inflation busting salaries, benefits and bonuses while the public funding of our institutions continues to decline…We cannot allow the extravagance of the few distract from the need from proper investment in our students.”

There has been no response as of yet from the University.


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Absolutely 100/ agree cleaners at the university are treated like crap