A report published last week by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) showed that Oxford has 451 staff members earning over £100,000, placing it above University College London and Cambridge as the biggest payer of the 21 UK universities which have more than 100 staff earning over the £100,000 threshold.
This means that 451 staff earn at least 7.5 per cent of all 12,500 full-time staff at the University, at a time of falling wages and increasing work casualisation, according to UCU analysis.
This comes as the study, titled ‘Transparency at the top?’, also reveals that Oxford’s discrepancy between the pay of its Vice-Chancellor and the average earnings of its academic staff is the fourth-highest of all higher education institutions, in terms of total remuneration.
Andrew Hamilton, and his successor in the post, Louise Richardson, earned £433,000 in total during 2015-16, compared to the average pay, along with pension contributions, of academic staff at £56,156.
In terms of annual pay, excluding pensions, the Oxford VC earned over eight times that of the average staff member, at a salary of £359,000 compared to the average pay of £40,676.
UCU say that a two per cent increase in VC pay across the sector comes at the same time as a one per cent rise in the pay of all university staff.
President of the Oxford UCU branch, Garrick Taylor, while welcoming the “restraint” showed in the Oxford VC’s decreasing expenses and travel, described it as “a concern that such a high number of senior post holders are earning over £100,000 which mean that at least 7.5 per cent of staff costs go to just 451 staff in a University of well over 12,500 [full time] staff.
“This is at a time when the majority of staff are having their real terms pay repressed and the University are trying to reduce staff costs and are asking for voluntary redundancies.”
Last week, Cherwell revealed that Oxford University has paid £735,988 to 106 former staff on voluntary redundancy settlements in the last five years.
The university with the greatest discrepancy between the pay of its Vice-Chancellor and the average pay of its sta members was Southampton, where the VC earned £643,000 in 2015-16, while the average pay of its staff was £37,942. This means the former VC, Don Nutbeam, earned almost 19 times that of the average staff member.
The figures show a six per cent decrease in the Oxford VC’s expenses on hotels and travel during the same period.
In January, a Times Higher Education report revealed that the Oxford University VC was the third highest-paid at a Russell Group university.
An Oxford University spokesperson told Cherwell: “Oxford is a global leader for research and teaching, and was recently ranked the number one university in the world by Times Higher Education. To maintain this strong position, we need to keep attracting exceptional minds, who are also highly sought-after by our international competitors. We recruit and retain the very best, and we reward their talent appropriately.”
Reacting to the findings of the report, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, said: “Those at the very top in our universities need to rein in the largesse that embarrasses the sector and the government needs to enforce proper scrutiny of their pay and perks.”
“Telling staff that there is no money for pay rises while signing off golden goodbyes worth a quarter of a million pounds or handing out pay rises in excess of ten per cent to 23 university heads is quite outrageous.”
She called for government intervention to regulate vice-chancellors’ spending. She said: “Unless the government finally steps in we believe many vice-chancellors will continue to spend public money and students’ fees with impunity. The huge disparities in the levels of pay and pay rises at the top expose the arbitrary nature of senior pay and perks in our universities.”