UCU calls for overhaul of university pay system after latest scandal

The UCU has called for an overhaul of how university pay is determined and scrutinised.

The move comes after it was revealed Bath Spa University paid vice-chancellor Professor Christina Slade £808,000 last year – thought to be the largest at a UK university – including £429,000 for “compensation of loss of office”.

The latest story of excess at the top of UK universities comes after it was revealed earlier today (Wednesday) that the spending watchdog Hefce is investigating the golden goodbye Dame Glynis Breakwell is to receive at the University of Bath.

The union says the recent spate of high profile scandals over pay and perks at universities proved it was time for an urgent overhaul of how the pay is determined and scrutinised. Yesterday that academics are planning protests over pay University of Birmingham.

Earlier this week, the University of Southampton had to concede it was wrong to say the vice-chancellor did not sit on the committee setting his own pay after it was revealed the university had paid out £1.5m on vice-chancellor salaries in just three years.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We are seeing what happens when decisions are taken in secret without proper checks and balances. This simply cannot be allowed to continue; we need an urgent overhaul of how senior pay and perks are determined, and how our universities are governed.

“Hefce has already been asked to investigate the golden goodbye on offer down the road at the University of Bath and I presume they will look at this one as well. We need students and staff to have a role on the committees taking these decisions and we need to see the full minutes so we can be clear about how pay awards are decided.

“Clearly, when it comes to senior pay and perks in our universities, many vice-chancellors and senior staff look like they are living on a different planet. Defending their own massive rises while pleading poverty when it comes to staff pay and pensions only makes them look out of touch and greedy.

“From golden goodbyes totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds in Bath to efforts to obscure who is setting pay the vice-chancellor’s pay in Southampton, the time has come for proper transparency of pay and perks in higher education, and for staff and students to be given a seat at the top table.”

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