In March 2009 The Guardian reported that the pay of university vice-chancellors had soared to an average of £194,000, nearly equalling the pay of the Prime Minister. The University of Nottingham featured particularly prominently in the article, which stated that “The highest earner was Sir Colin Campbell whose 90% pay increase saw him pocket a salary and benefits package worth £585,000 on the eve of retirement.” A year on, Nottingham has hit the headlines again as it was reported that current vice-chancellor, Professor David Greenaway, is the fifth highest earner in this country for his profession. In fact it emerged that Professor Greenaway earned £338,000 in 2008-2009, a wage increase of 7.7%. However, as universities seek to bump up tuition fees, the question that needs to be asked is whether this money is serving the university and its students in the best possible way?
The University does not believe the issues of increasing fees and the vice-chancellor’s salary to be related topics, yet is it justifiable that a man should be paid more than the Prime Minister simply for overseeing a university? Clearly the institution believes the answer to be yes, as the response given by Nottingham University to The Guardian was “An institution… with a turnover of almost £500m is complex and demanding. Therefore, we would expect to be paying a higher than average salary.” There is some rationale behind this as reportedly student numbers have doubled since 1999. Moreover, surely one could argue that, as a noted economist, Professor Greenaway would be aware of any injustice concerning his own salary. However, students of the University may have other ideas, with the Guardian reporting that earnings of Vice-Chancellors have in some cases doubled or tripled over the past decade, vastly outstripping inflation. This is the fact the university may wish to consider.