Universities Minister issues warning over 'exceptional' vice-chancellor salaries

Posted On: 
20th July 2017

Universities should be required to justify the “exceptional” salaries given to vice-chancellors, Jo Johnson will say today. 

Universities Minister Jo Johnson will challenge the high pay of vice-chancellors in a speech today
Credit: 
The House magazine

The Universities Minister will call for an end to the “ratcheting up” of higher education leaders’ pay packages.

Those who are paid more than the Prime Minister’s annual salary of £150,000 should be forced to explain why the remuneration is necessary, Mr Johnson will say in a speech to the Reform thinktank.

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“When pay levels are exceeding those of the Prime Minister, it’s important they are justified by exceptional performance,” he will add.

"When students and taxpayers invest so heavily in our higher education system, value for money should be guaranteed. Yet, I am still hearing students say that their course is poor quality.

"This is not good enough, especially when some vice-chancellors take home a wage that in some cases exceeds that of the Prime Minister."

A report in February found that the average pay package for vice-chancellors stood at £278,000, while the head of the University of Bath is paid £451,000.

Top salaries in the higher education sector have come under focus in recent weeks amid a growing debate about tuition fees, which are set to rise above £9,000 from September.

Lord Adonis, who was one of the architects behind the introduction of variable fees under Labour, has hit out at Glynis Breakwell, the head of the University Bath.

He said: “The highly paid should set an example to the rest of the community, particularly at a time of pay restraint. The only example the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath is setting to her staff is one of greed.”