UK: Union's fury at vice-chancellors' excessive pay increases

EI affiliate the Association of University Teachers (AUT) has expressed its amazement at the salary increases of the vice-chancellors and principals on the board of the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA).

Figures released by the AUT show that the vice-chancellors and principals on the UCEA board have enjoyed, on average, a pay increase of 32.1 per cent over the last three years. During the same three-year period, pay for academic staff has risen by just 9.44 per cent. On average the vice-chancellors and principals on the board earned £178,000 in 2004/05. A new lecturer can expect to earn, on average, less than £25,000 when they start their career. Over the past 20 years, lecturers pay has fallen 40% behind that of equivalent professions. Earlier this month, the AUT, along with EI affiliate NATFHE and the Educational Institute of Scotland, submitted a demand for a 20% pay rise over the next three years. They argue that a slice of the money generated from the introduction of £3,000-a-year student tuition fees should be put towards academic pay. Indeed, when lobbying for top-up fees vice-chancellors promised the then higher education minister, Alan Johnson, that a substantial proportion of the new money would be spent on staff pay. Talks between the AUT and NATFHE - which are in the process of merging - and UCEA broke down last week. The unions are now balloting members for strike action and a boycott of student assessment. Sally Hunt, AUT general secretary, accused vice-chancellors of double standards. "Vice-chancellors have consistently pleaded poverty when it comes to paying their staff, yet any suggestion of belt-tightening doesn't seem to extend to their own pay," she said.