MORE than two-thirds of university bosses sit on committees that decide their own pay, research by the University and College Union (UCU) revealed yesterday.
The study found a lack of transparency over vice-chancellors’ salaries, with former education minister Lord Adonis, a key figure in the introduction of fees in 1998, accusing universities of a “potentially illegal cover-up over pay.”
UCU said that vice-chancellors have often hidden behind “shadow remuneration committees,” adding that they must be open to proper scrutiny over their “inflation-busting” pay rises.
The average pay for vice-chancellors in 2005-06 was £165,105, but the figure had soared to £257,904 in the last 10 years — a staggering 56.2 per cent increase.
Three-quarters of universities refused to provide UCU with unredacted minutes of remuneration committee meetings when asked to do so under the Freedom of Information Act.
Over two-thirds of vice-chancellors are members of their university’s remuneration committee or can attend its meetings, the union found. It said the true figure was likely to be higher, as some institutions refused to answer the question.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “For too long, vice-chancellors have hidden behind the shadowy remuneration committee when it comes to their pay.
“However, in the majority of cases, the vice-chancellor sits on that committee and the university refuses to issue minutes of the meeting.
“Students and their families are spending more than ever to fund their studies and universities should be fully transparent about how and why they are spending that money.
“It is time to lift the lid on the secretive world of university remuneration committees.”
UCU has previously called for there to be a public register of vice-chancellors’ pay.