University of Southampton boss DID sit on board that decided his £433k pay

Professor Sir Chris Snowden

The University of Southampton has admitted that its vice-chancellor did sit on the committee that awarded him a pay package worth £433,000 in 2016/17.

After the news broke of Professor Sir Chris Snowden’s healthy pay deal on Friday, the university said: “The vice-chancellor’s salary was set and is regularly reviewed and agreed by the university’s independently chaired remuneration committee, which reports to the university council. The vice-chancellor is not a member of the remuneration committee and only attends by invitation to discuss other business.”

But the UCU, which recently won a victory in its campaign against excessive pay when University of Bath vice-chancellor Glynis Breakwell stepped down,  says that was impossible as the remuneration committee was only recently established. The vice-chancellor’s pay was actually set by the senior salaries committee, which the vice-chancellor was a member of until November 17 2017.

The union said the revelation highlighted the need for proper transparency of key decisions in universities. In the last three years the University of Southampton has spent £1.5million on paying its vice-chancellor:

2014/15 – £232,000 to Don Nutbeam

2015/16 – £687,000 to Nutbeam and Sir Christopher Snowden

2016/17 – £433,000 to Snowden

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Senior pay and how it is set has long blighted the university sector. We found that over two-thirds of vice-chancellors sat on the committee that sets their pay. While most people would agree this is wrong and looks suspect, it is currently the norm, which makes Southampton’s efforts to try and obscure the fact that their vice-chancellor was on the committee that sets his £434,000 package really strange.

“For the university to say the vice-chancellor’s pay was set by a committee that didn’t even exist when his pay was actually set will fill no one with confidence about its governance structures. In the last three years the university has spent £1.5million on vice-chancellor salaries. It is currently trying to axe 75 academic jobs as it says it needs to save money, whilst advertising for an executive chauffeur.”

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