Vice chancellors at the elite Russell Group of universities have been accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ for pocketing big pay rises, while trying to enforce a one per cent pay rise on staff.
Unite, the country’s largest trade union, was commenting as a Times Higher Education (THE) survey of 19 of the group’s 24 members revealed that the average vice chancellor salary in the group increased by just over £22,000 to nearly £293,000 in 2012-13.
Chair of the Unite national education committee Haydn Morris said: “This smacks of rank hypocrisy, given that university staff have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13 per cent cut in pay in real terms since 2008.
“On the day that the cost of living crisis has again been highlighted by the leap in rail fares, the university bosses are lining their own substantial pockets, while those staff that keep Britain in the top ten world university league table struggle to make ends meet.
“The ‘them and us’ situation is made worse as the cumulative operating surplus in the higher education sector is now over £1 billion. Cash rich universities could well afford to be more generous than the one per cent offer currently on the table.”
The university trade unions took two days of strike action last year in pursuit of a better pay deal and it is likely that more industrial action will be on the cards in 2014.
According to the THE, once pension payments are taken into consideration, the Russell Group vice chancellors received an average of £318,500 last year – up from £302,500 in 2011-12 which means an average salary rise of 8.1 per cent and a 5.2 per cent rise in overall benefits.
Unite’s university membership embraces science technicians, administrators and facilities management staff. The union has about 20,000 members in higher education.
Notes to editors
For further information, please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
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• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.