Universities ‘to be fined’ if they fail to justify paying vice-chancellors more than prime minister

Posted On: 
7th September 2017

Universities will be fined if they fail to justify giving vice-chancellors higher salaries than the prime minister, the Government will announce today.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson will make the announcement later today
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In a bid to crack down on eye-watering salaries, universities will now be forced to make a written explanation to the Office for Students, a new watchdog, if it pays its vice-chancellor more than £150,000.

Institutions could then face a fine if the body are not happy with the justification.

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Universities will also have to publish the remuneration of employees who earn more than £100,000, as well as the ratio for its highest paid worker and the median salary.

Furthermore they will have to explain pay rises for senior staff which do not match average increases, Jo Johnson will say today at the annual conference of Universities UK.

Top pay for vice chancellors has come in for criticism in recent months amid a growing debate about tuition fees, which are set to rise above £9,000 from September.

A University and College Union report in February found the average pay package for university heads stood at £278,000 a year, with the boss of Bath university paid an eye-watering £451,000.

Fees architect Lord Adonis and Universities Minister Mr Johnson have both hit out at the “exceptional” pay - with the peer accusing vice-chancellors of “greed and complacency”.

However top vice-chancellors have this week defended their high pay, with Oxford University's education boss accusing "tawdry" politicians of making a false link between increased tuition fees and the huge salaries of top brass.

Louise Richardson said it was "completely mendacious" for politicians to suggest vice chancellors have used fee hikes to enhance their pay.

She insisted high salaries reflected the “global marketplace” and were necessary for attracting talent from around the globe.

Liverpool University’s vice chancellor Janet Beer is set to defend the high pay, she will tell today’s conference high pay is necessary to retain top talent.

Ms Beer, who is also the president of Universities UK, said: ““The role of the vice-chancellor has evolved from leading a community of scholars to leading large, complex, global organisations — organisations with multimillion-pound turnovers.

“Competitive remuneration is needed to attract the best leaders with the skills to lead these complex organisations.”