Vice Chancellor Sir Colin CampbellFigures released last week from a survey carried out by the Times Higher Education Supplement have revealed that the average pay rise for vice-chancellors rose by 8% over the last year with many increases having soared by over 25% in just three years.

The publication of these figures comes on the back of protests by lecturers in the past week over pay, and the likely rejection of their claim for a 23% pay rise over the next three years, that could result in further action – meaning thousands of students would be left without their degrees marked this summer.

The new set of figures show that 33 vice-chancellors now earn more than Tony Blair’s salary of £184,000, and 18 vice-chancellors are paid more than £200,000 – including Nottingham’s Sir Colin Campbell, whose salary for 2004-05 was £221,000: a rise of 22.9% on the previous year. It equates to a 39.9% increase over the previous three years.

In a joint statement Universities UK, the body that represents vice-chancellors, and the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA), which handles negotiations with the unions, defended the vice-chancellor pay rises. They argue that vice-chancellors perform ‘a demanding job as chief executives of multi-million pound organisations’ and that such levels of pay are needed ‘to attract, retain and reward individuals of sufficient calibre, experience and talent in a growing sector,’ especially as vice-chancellor’s pay remains ‘well below the average for chief executives in both the public and private sectors.’

However, the unions have responded angrily to the figures, with Sally Hunt, the Association of University Teacher’s general secretary has demanded an investigation into the pay rises, ‘so everyone can see just what vice-chancellors have done to warrant the huge salaries the tax payer gives them.’ Andy Pike, national official for universities at lecturers’ union Natfhe was also highly critical of the pay increases arguing they appeared hypocritical when placed in the context of a cash strapped university system, especially as ‘a lesser claim for lecturers is being rejected as top-up fees are bringing in a huge injection of cash.’

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