Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 13:27 UK

Vice-chancellors take pay freeze

Leeds University
Many universities are examining ways to cut costs

The vice-chancellors of at least eight English universities will accept a pay freeze this year, as some ask departments to make major savings.

Many university heads earn well in excess of £200,000 a year, with or without other benefits.

They have been awarded substantial pay rises in recent years, including an average 8% in 2006-07 and 9% last year.

But the Universities and Colleges Union said the gesture "would be seen as too little too late" by university staff.

Many senior staff at the universities concerned are also not being awarded a pay rise.

One of those to forgo a rise is the president and provost of University College London, Professor Malcolm Grant, who earned £295,621 last year after a 10.3% pay rise.

A university spokesman said he donated £20,000 of this per annum back to the university.

'Serious situation'

Professor Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick, earned £220,656 last year, including benefits.

Last month, he and 14 members of staff took the decision not to take a pay rise. He subsequently wrote to staff asking them to achieve savings of 5% to get the university back into a surplus.

There would also be no additional pay based on merit, nor any pay rises for senior staff this year, he said in a letter to staff.

They have enjoyed exorbitant rises over recent years
Sally Hunt, University and Colleges Union

A Warwick University spokesman said Professor Thrift's salary represented "exceptional value for money" considering the university was consistently ranked in the top 10.

The vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds, Professor Michael Arthur, told staff: "The decision by all members of the vice-chancellor's executive group (myself included) not to accept a pay rise this year acknowledges the seriousness of the current financial situation we are facing, but it doesn't of course mean we expect others to follow suit.

His leader column in the staff newsletter talks of large cuts to "core university research funding" in departments such as geography, and warns that staff salary increases are less than certain.

"I can't put a figure on an increase," he said, "but I am sure there will be one, and I am very hopeful it will be the product of negotiations rather than dispute."


Professor Chris Brink, vice-chancellor of Newcastle University, said he wanted to "exercise restraint during the current difficulties".

"The university is mindful of the effects that the recession is having on the lives of many people," he said.

The University and Colleges Union said the vice-chancellor pay freezes were a "gesture that staff will see as too little, too late".

Its general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "They have enjoyed exorbitant rises over recent years whilst begrudgingly affording their staff much lower rises.

"Staff pay rises have never been in the same ballpark as vice-chancellors' rises and we presume no university will have the nerve to suggest that now a few vice-chancellors' excesses have been reined in, staff pay should be attacked."

But the University and Colleges Employers Association points out that university staff did receive incremental increases of 3% in August 2007 and a further 3% in May 2008.

Jocelyn Prudence, chief executive of UCEA, said: "The increase in the average 2007-08 remuneration figure for vice-chancellors and principals is much in line with the overall higher education staff pay rises for that same time period."

But with a very different economic outlook ahead, she "would not expect this trend to continue", she said.

The other vice-chancellors freezing their pay include those of the University of the West of England, Manchester Metropolitan, Chichester and Exeter Universities.

University chiefs got 7.9% rises
22 Feb 07 |  Education
Universities 'may face deficit'
10 Dec 08 |  Education
University staff set for 5% rise
09 Sep 08 |  Education

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