Vice-Chancellor’s pay up to £290,000

By and Waseem Mohamed

The salary of Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor increased by £17,000, to £290,000 in 2021. The salary has increased far beyond the rate of inflation over the last five years.

The pay increase took the previous Vice-Chancellor’s total remuneration to £342,000, nearly 13 times the median total pay of all staff when including casual and agency workers – in 2020 it was about 11.5 times higher.

The UCU have previously advocated for a 10:1 maximum pay differential, which would see the highest paid member of staff earning no more than ten times the earnings of the University’s lowest paid.

The salary is well above average for UK Vice-Chancellors, who the received an average remuneration of £269,000 last year. It is, however, lower than some Russell Group rivals across the UK, with the heads of Imperial, LSE, and Exeter receiving a total remuneration of over £500,000.

The revelation comes amidst growing concerns amongst teaching staff over pay, pensions, and working conditions, highlighted by the UCU strikes that ended last Wednesday, and which will resume from the 21st of this month.

In addition to the Vice-Chancellor’s pay rise, the total amount paid out to “key management personnel”, which includes the Vice-Chancellor as well as “those persons having authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling” has increased to £3,007,000 from £2,939,000 in 2020, a rise of £68,000.

This is despite the overall number of these personnel remaining at its 2020 level of 16, meaning an average rise of £4,250 each.

“Where there are instances of an imbalance in pay at universities, it is important that this information is … open to scrutiny”

Nicola dandridge

In November, Office for Students Chief Executive Nicola Dandridge said about national Vice-Chancellor salaries: “Leading a university is a complex and difficult role that requires great flexibility, knowledge, and experience, and it is right that those who excel in these roles should be properly rewarded.

“However, where there are instances of an imbalance in pay at universities, it is important that this information is freely available and open to scrutiny.”

The number of Durham University staff on six-figure wage packets has also increased, from 76 to 79 staff.

Previous Vice-Chancellor Stuart Corbridge repeatedly came under fire throughout his six years in office over increases in pay and expenses claims. He was the first Vice-Chancellor in the county to restore his salary to pre-Covid levels and was revealed to have spent nearly £25,000 on Business and Premium Economy return flights under expenses claims over three years.

In their 2021 Annual Report, the University says that “Competitive salary packages are essential to attract and retain outstanding staff in senior leadership roles.”

Decisions on the Vice-Chancellor’s salary are made by the University Remuneration Committee, “taking account of the achievement of strategic goals, the institution’s national and international and performance against key performance metrics.”

Image: Durham University

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