- Average wage for vice chancellor at a Russell Group university is £355,670
- Highest paid is Sir David Eastwood of University of Birmingham on £439,000
- Russell Group’s institutions among best in UK and include Cambridge University
Bosses at the country’s top universities were paid an average of £332,000 last year fueling concerns their salaries are ‘far too high’.
Vice chancellors of Russell Group universities, including Cambridge, Oxford and Durham, are among those receiving substantial salaries for their roles.
Research showed the average wage and benefits of a Russell Group leader in 2016/17 was £331,641.
Lord Adonis, a Labour peer who previously served as education minister, said the average pay for vice-chancellors was ‘far too high’
But Lord Adonis, a Labour peer who previously served as education minister, said the average remuneration was ‘far too high’ and called for it to be significantly decreased to £200,000.
The figures, obtained by the Times Higher Education magazine, found that once employer pension contributions are included, the average pay package for a Russell Group boss was £355,670.
Research also showed that average remuneration has risen by 0.02 per cent on average, compared to 2015/16, or by 0.1 per cent if pension payments are taken into accounts.
The figures are based on an analysis of the 2016/17 financial accounts of the 24 Russell Group members.
But Lord Adonis said the minimal increase in average pay was ‘neither here not there’ in the bigger picture.
The Russell Group is made up of 24 highly selective universities considered among the best in the country.
The group’s chief executive Dr Tim Bradshaw said the its vice-chancellors are well paid for the jobs they do, but that these institutions add significant value to the UK, including generating around £86 billion for the economy.
The highest paid Russell Group leader was Sir David Eastwood of the University of Birmingham, who received a remuneration package (salary and benefits) of £439,000 in 2016/17.
Russell Group universities are among the top institutions in the country and include Cambridge, Oxford (pictured) and Durham
This excludes a long-term bonus plan with a maximum value of £80,000, payable at the end of 2019-20, the magazine reported.
Dr Bradshaw said: ‘No one would argue that Russell Group vice-chancellors aren’t well remunerated for the difficult job they perform. However, the value our universities bring to the UK economy, society and culture is vast.
‘In purely economic terms our 24 universities generate around £86 billion for the country every year. It’s also worth remembering that our VCs tend to be paid less than their counterparts in countries like Australia and the USA, while their average salary as a percentage of their university’s turnover is comparatively very low at just 0.05%.
‘We agree that Russell Group universities need to take a lead in acting responsibly on this issue in order to regain the confidence of staff, students and the wider public. It’s really important that every pay award is fair and justified and that relevant information is publicly available.
‘At the same time, we should recognise that the position of vice-chancellor at a research-intensive university is very challenging and increasingly multi-faceted.
In a highly competitive market, it is vital that our members can attract and hold on to the right people to run these large, complex, global operations to deliver the best outcomes for their students and to society at large.’
A proposed new code on university bosses’ pay was published by the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) earlier this week.
It says the process for setting pay must be transparent and that institutions should take into account factors such as the value an individual provides to their institution, and the context in which the university operates.
Pay for university chiefs in general has risen significantly in recent years, and in 2015/16 the typical salary of a UK vice-chancellor was 6.4 times that of the average university worker, according to a government consultation published in October.
Under new proposals, universities will have to publish the pay of anyone earning more than £100,000 and give an explanation if someone is earning in excess of £150,000, equivalent to the Prime Minister’s salary.