Magazine investigation reveals vice chancellors’ pay

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The salaries of vice chancellors between 2009 and 2010 were recently published, revealing controversial figures. In a recent article published by John Morgan, the acting deputy News Editor of The Times Higher Education, the pay of vice chancellors was publicly exposed, revealing astronomical salaries. The article also divulged whether each vice chancellor attended a Grammar, Private or State school and subsequently, which university they attended, exposing any possible inequalities.

Photo by Elliot Westacott

The article consists of a table containing 156 universities. The statistics reveal that 26 vice chancellors attended Oxford or Cambridge University, which amounts to nearly 17% of all vice chancellors. In addition, 67% of vice chancellors attended a private or grammar school, indicating the huge proportion of people within this profession who came from privileged backgrounds. With regard to gender, only 17.2% of vice chancellors were female in this academic year.

Perhaps most controversially, the article exposed salaries across the board. This ultimately brings into question why some institutions’ vice chancellors are getting paid significantly more than others. For instance, the vice chancellor at Leeds College of Music was paid £119,045 in the academic year 2009-2010. However, the University of Birmingham’s Vice Chancellor was paid an extortionate £341,000 including benefits. Is the University of Birmingham’s VC doing anything differently from the VC at Leeds College of Music, or The University of Bangor’s VC, who was paid a considerably lower sum of £121,000?

The article also discloses the amount of benefits received in that year. Bath Spa University’s VC received benefits amounting to £19,000, the University of Exeter, £27,000 and the Queen Mary University of London a staggering £46,000. However, the majority of vice chancellors at institutions including Lancaster, Durham and Cambridge universities received no benefits at all. Although the article does offer an explanation into some of the benefits awarded, Queen Mary University in particular being due to the cost of more than one office holder during that year, Bath Spa and Exeter University’s reasons for benefits remain unsolved.

When asked what the day-to-day life of a vice chancellor involves, Vicky Tyrrell, Lancaster University’s Press Officer siad: “I don’t think there is a typical day for a vice chancellor, but activities would involve leadership of the University (including all the major committees), representing Lancaster on a political level, representing Lancaster abroad, and a whole host of other work in line with being the VC of a top ten university.”

According to the THE article Professor Wellings earns £215,000 a year.

Having spoken to Morgan, the author of the article, he suggested that the process by which salaries of senior academic staff are decided is uncertain: “The University and College Union have frequently complained that this process is not transparent, and the reasons for setting particular salaries are not made clear”.

When students of Lancaster were asked whether they believed an average Vice Chancellor’s salary of £213,813 was fair, Vicky Voltaire Bluth Millinship simply commented “No” on SCAN’s Facebook page. Another student to comment was third year Maths student Keith Morrison who said: “I think we should be allowed to see the day-to-day roles and see why they’re earning that ridiculous amount of money”.

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