£270,000 a year average annual vice chancellor salary

(20 Posts)
Figmentofmyimagination Thu 11-Feb-16 08:31:05

I am immensely irritated by this news from ucu of yet another - average £12k per year - rise in vc salaries - and the telling justification from universities uk that these wages are comparable with those of CEOs at equivalent sized institutions, 'public and private' - while the wages of academic staff are stagnating. Yet another illustration of what goes wrong when you privatise a public good.

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senua Thu 11-Feb-16 08:51:35

And yet the Prime Minister (who runs the whole country ) gets paid about half of what each of these numerous VCs get.
It's bonkers.

pinkcan Thu 11-Feb-16 09:08:18

Well I think the point will be how many vice chancellors there are compared to academic staff. Clearly academic staff will outnumber VCs by several hundred or thousand to one.

A pay rise of £12k for a VC - if instead given to academic staff - would work out as pocket change each (and be viewed as an insulting pay rise).

I'm not saying it's right, it's just the way things are. I do think it's correct that if the VC's pay was significantly cute they'd go and work elsewhere.

FishWithABicycle Thu 11-Feb-16 09:28:40

Pay for any job reflects how much innate talent you need to do it (and how rare that talent is), how much hard work and long term career experience you need to have put in before you can be considered competent to do the job (and how many or few people successfully achieve that level) and how pleasant & fun/unpleasant and awful the job is.

The job of VC gets a maximum score on all 3 counts and is rightly paid very very highly. It's a horrible job requiring a rare personality to survive it. To get there you need to be a brilliant and highly respected academic in your own field but be prepared to give up (most of) the academic research that you love to steer a huge and complex organisation including managing lots of highly-strung brilliant personalities who hate each other and need careful handling but who you have to keep sweet because their standing in their academic field is what keeps the University ranked where it is.

I would have a nervous breakdown in days put in that position. I have no problem at all with the pay packet being more than 6 times what I earn as they have 6 times greater magnitude of hell to deal with. Plus there are fewer people who meet all the required criteria well than there are universities. So some universities have to compromise and have someone who doesn't have the required level of talent, academic credentials and experience etc. Those will be the ones who pay least.

NChelp Thu 11-Feb-16 09:47:31

Pay for any job reflects how much innate talent you need to do it (and how rare that talent is), how much hard work and long term career experience you need to have put in before you can be considered competent to do the job (and how many or few people successfully achieve that level) and how pleasant & fun/unpleasant and awful the job is.

Sorry but that is utter crap, there are many talented people who will never earn a salary like that in their career. I don't doubt it is a difficult job but in the scheme of things others do far harder jobs for much less. If their salary is justified then everyone else is significantly underpaid - which I believe they are. According to the BMA after 19 years a consultant has a basic salary of £100,000 and they have people's lives in their hands.

disquisitiones Thu 11-Feb-16 09:59:10

According to the BMA after 19 years a consultant has a basic salary of £100,000 and they have people's lives in their hands.

But this is a misleading comparison.

A consultant earns a base salary of 100k, but takes home a lot more typically with private work. By contrast, an academic with 19 years experience probably wouldn't earn over 50 or 60k so consultants do earn a lot more than academics.

A VC who is responsible for up to 10,000 staff and 40,000 students earns a lot more than a typical academic, but the comparison should be with chief executives of hospital trusts, not with consultants.

And the PM's salary is ludicrously low, as is the salary of the US president, but both will earn a vast amount more once they leave office.

FishWithABicycle Thu 11-Feb-16 10:56:09

Of course there are people who do harder jobs for less money - if people were only paid in proportion to how hard they work and how much experience they had then nurses would be paid a hell of a lot more - a consultant surgeon certainly scores highly on the talent and hard work required but it's a much more rewarding and personally fulfilling job so scores less on that measure, and while they certainly need a lot of talent, there are a lot more people who have that level of experience and talent. Consultant surgeons are not in charge of hospitals though as as disqui points out. They are more equivalent to academic Heads of Department in the University sphere (pay usually around £50-60k) and are rightly paid more than that.


NChelp Thu 11-Feb-16 11:36:45

OK perhaps the comparison wasn't the best but it still stands that a VC is not responsible for people's lives in the same way, and yes nurses are hugely underpaid as are many others who deal with life and death situations every day.

disquisitiones Thu 11-Feb-16 11:41:07

Heads of department are usually professors (min salary 65-70k) and then get an increase in salary for being head of department. Nobody in their right minds would do a head of department job for 50k (senior lecturer salary with no other responsibilities).

I don't see why a head of department, who might manage 80+ staff, a budget of tens of millions of pounds per year, leads the education of 1000+ students, while still carrying out world leading research, should be paid less than a consultant.

Doctors use the "we save lives" card to ensure that their salaries are significantly higher than other public sector workers of comparable education/experience/skills.

ABetaDad1 Thu 11-Feb-16 11:45:15

"To get there you need to be a brilliant and highly respected academic in your own field ..."

That is not true in all cases. It may be that some are but some do not have a significant research track record at all and have moved up though the administration side of the university system - rather than teaching and research.

lljkk Thu 11-Feb-16 11:53:32

I think if anything, most VCs are a bit underpaid.
I say that as an underpaid academic myself with zero prospects for promotion.

Mind you, I think I'm a communist at heart & would be happy if we all had same pay for same number of hours. The cleaners should earn the same as the footballers & the PM. Since that system badly doesn't work, we're stuck with the best of all the lousy systems, which means a competitive international market for best people, supply and demand...

titchy Thu 11-Feb-16 14:26:55

And who trains the consultants and the chemists who do ground-breaking research into new drug treatments?

logfiresspit Thu 11-Feb-16 14:49:22

Well I agree with you: it stinks.
Peter Horrocks, OU VC has NO academic experience and NO previous connection with the OU. Hard to see how he's 'worth' the 400K+ he gets paid.
I'm with lljkk - if we can't have a system of equal pay, then why not limit the differential to, say 20x. Isn't it enough of a pat on the back to be worth twenty times as much as another person? Why does ANYone need more than that?

SueDunome Thu 11-Feb-16 15:43:51

Presumably these inflated pay increases are being paid for from the new student fees, currently £9000 per annum per student and soon to rise further. This is what I object to.

titchy Thu 11-Feb-16 16:18:41

No suedonim the £9000 fees are being used to replace the £9000+ in funding that the government took away.

SueDunome Thu 11-Feb-16 16:43:21

OK, thanks titchy. That makes sense, I suppose. Ignore me, I'm a whole different thread smile

Figmentofmyimagination Thu 11-Feb-16 17:23:22

Well my guess is that there isn't exactly a shortage of effective vice chancellors, and how many of them really would survive, managing the equivalent of an NHS Trust or a private sector organisation of comparable size?

In any event people are way too quick to buy into the myth that you need high pay to 'buy' the best talent.

There is a lot of research to show that 'very high pay' is not a good motivator to build better institutions, and this must be especially the case where (and I'm going out on a limb here), the role already carries its own motivators in terms of the desire to perform a public service to a world class standard and to educate the next generation of young people.

VC pay should simply not be increasing at the moment, especially when civil servants are facing a 1% pay rise for the next 4 years and the parents of their student cohort are facing real wage stagnation, not to mention concerns over the earnings potential of their fee paying undergraduates. There is an ethical dimension to pay, which I would suggest has been lost here!

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titchy Thu 11-Feb-16 18:10:37

They don't exactly grow on trees..... The recruitment process is worldwide.

By the way the OU has a turnover of £500m. So £400k managing a business that size seems cheap. By way of comparison the salary of CEO of Whitbread, with a turnover three times that of the OU, isn't three times Horrocks' £400k. It's fifteen times £400k.

logfiresspit Thu 11-Feb-16 20:42:21

I get what you're saying, titchy, and maybe it's a valid comparison. But the VC isn't responsible for turning any sort of a profit at the OU. A CEO is paid (indirectly) by the people who make money when he does a good job. I'm not so sure you can make the same argument at universities. And in any case the OU pays way over the odds - the VC of Cambridge (three times the turnover) gets less.

The OU pays poverty wages to the great majority of its staff (massive part-time staff). To have a VC who gets SUCH a massive salary - at one time the highest in the UK, though that may now have changed - stinks.

disquit2 Thu 11-Feb-16 20:55:48

The VC may not be responsible for turning a profit at the OU, but at my own university the VC does indeed have a target of turning a profit, which is then used for reserve funds/strategic investments.

I don't think the salaries are (that) excessive in general, although the OU may well be an exception. My understanding is that there is indeed a shortage of effective vice chancellors, since the most desirable candidates indeed have private sector experience and can get far higher salaries (often for less pressure) in the private sector.

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