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Vice-chancellors' pay in higher education institutions in England

Published Thursday, May 3, 2018

This House of Commons library briefing paper discusses the issue of university vice-chancellors' pay and outlines proposed regulatory changes to the system of remuneration for senior staff in higher education institutions.

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The pay of senior staff in universities is currently under scrutiny.

Vice-chancellors’ pay is a hot topic and has been discussed in the media since details of the remuneration of the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath were disclosed in September 2017. A table of vice-chancellors’ salaries in the Times Higher Education in June 2017 showed that Dame Glynis Breakwell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Bath was the highest paid university vice-chancellor in the UK; in 2016-17 she was paid a salary of £451,000. The table showed that vice-chancellors at six other universities also earned over £400,000 in that year.

It has been suggested that vice-chancellors’ salaries have increased since the rise in tuition fees in 2012, but this has not been demonstrated. Various reasons have been given for increased vice-chancellor pay and the reasons for this tend to be different in each specific situation.

The way that senior staff pay is calculated is under review. The Committee of University Chairs (CUC) is conducting a consultation on the remuneration of vice- chancellors and they have published new draft guidance which advocates a more transparent system which links the salaries of vice-chancellors to the salaries of other members of staff in universities. The consultation on the guidance closed in March 2018 and it is anticipated that final guidance will be agreed in the spring for implementation from September 2018.

The government will also take on a regulatory role in this area through the work of the Office for Students (OfS).

This briefing outlines the issue and gives information on forthcoming changes.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8227

Authors: Susan Hubble; Paul Bolton

Topic: Higher education

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