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New guidelines intend to stop the abuse of Universities’ senior salaries

After last November’s “fat cat” scandal of Bath Spa University’s vice-chancellor Dame Glynis Breakwell displayed a salary of 468k pounds, politicians and institutions have been more critical about payment transparency in UK’s Higher Education Institutions and pressuring change and regulations.

Credit: University of Bath

The Committee of University Chairs (CUC) has published a new guidance on senior payment, which includes improving University’s transparency in money matters and fairer remuneration procedures. Any University whose vice-chancellor salary surpasses the average salary of other academic staff by 8.5 times, is obliged to give a public explanation to the stakeholders and their regulators about it.

Moreover they should also make the “pay multiples”, including bonuses and benefits, known by all colleagues. In addition, the vice-chancellors should not take part in the decision-making process of salaries, as many have been deciding their own payment – but rather the committees should be made more independent and professional to remain just.

However, this allegedly good-intended step towards fairness has had many critics as well, such as the statement of the University and College Union after the publication of new guidelines, which points out the closeness of the CUC leaders to the vice-chancellors and implying further corruption. The further voluntary compliance and the fact that “we also need to see leadership from institutions in setting fair remuneration – people are rightly concerned by the level of pay, not just the process”, as stated by the Office for Students chief executive Nicola Dandridge, strongly suggests that the new guidelines are insufficient.

More than 80% of the institutions in the UK are within the range of 4.5 to 8.5, which may not surpass the guidance’s limit but is still exaggerated as a salary indirectly paid with the taxpayer’s money, which should be used responsibly and fairly, and most importantly in the interest of the students and subsequently the society and economy of the UK. Even though Portsmouth is not on the top of vice-chancellors salaries, which are lead by Southampton and Bath, it is in the middle area with a salary of approximately 300k pounds, as “The Tab” survey reports.

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