It has emerged that Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, is the second highest paid university boss in the country.
In the year 2012-2013, the Vice-Chancellor received a pay-package of £434,000 – including pension – which is a 2.36 per cent increase on his 2011-12 salary.
This news has sparked concern amongst those who are currently campaigning for higher wages for all of Oxford University’s academic staff.
While Hamilton’s 2012-2013 pay increase of 2.36% was nearly in line with the inflation rate of the time (which was recorded at 2.9% in July 2013), academics were offered a far smaller wage increase.
The President of the University and College Union in Oxford, Terry Hoad, who campaigns for higher wages for academics and helped organise two academic strikes last year, pointed out this discrepancy. Talking to Cherwell, he said, “The University and College Union is about to consider whether to accept a pay offer which would see a 1% increase for 2012-13 and 2% for 2013-14. That offer represents a further significant cut in the real-terms value of our members’ pay, losses which have been suffered annually for a long time.”
He continued, “It is therefore galling that the already high salaries of vice-chancellors, including our own in Oxford – salaries that are many times higher than those of most other university staff – are increasing by very large amounts. It is not that redistributing the Vice-Chancellor’s pay increase among those other staff members would give them significant increases, but more that we are not seeing much sense of collegiality and even-handedness.”
“Vice-Chancellors have demanding jobs, but all university staff share responsibility for the very important work of sustaining the teaching, learning, and research for which Oxford has such a distinguished record. The Oxford Magazine has looked to the Vice-Chancellor to take a lead in work to ensure ‘our well-being into the future as a world-class university founded on academic and democratic values’. Those values should surely include the principle of fair rewards for all those on whom that well-being depends.”
However, the University of Oxford has said that the Vice-Chancellor’s salary is simply a reflection of the university’s wealth and global standing.
A spokesperson for the university stated, “According to last year’s Times Higher World University Rankings, Oxford is the number one university in the UK and number two in the world. It is consistently ranked as one of the two best universities in the UK and among the handful of best universities in the world. Its research output is vast, it has an almost billion-pound-a-year turnover, not including the colleges and the Oxford University Press, and it has great institutional complexity. The Vice-Chancellor’s salary reflects that.”
This view is not necessarily shared by Oxford students. A member of the Oxford Activist Network, Xavier Cohen, said he thought the example of the Vice-Chancellor’s pay was indicative of what he termed the ‘marketization of education’.
He told Cherwell, “A democratically unaccountable and unelected technocrat takes charge and power away from the members of our university, when we have not asked them to, and frames this power in terms of a burdensome bureaucratic responsibility that they deserve tremendous remuneration for.”
“The VC’s pay and power effectively takes pay and power away from the members of our institution, and to fight this means fighting the anti-democratic neoliberal rationality that it comes from.”
Other students appear firmly in agreement with Cohen’s point. Katharine Baxter, Keble student and student activist in last year’s academic strikes, said, “In a year when striking staff have, effectively, been fined for participation in unionised industrial action it is unacceptable that Oxford Vice-Chancellor Andrew Hamilton is the second highest paid VC in the country.”
An Oxford NUS delegate Nathan Akehurst added, “Vice-Chancellors’ salaries have risen by 8% in the last years whilst lecturers have faced the longest sustained pay cut since the Second World War. Pay distribution in HE (and in society in general) is unfair, which is why NUS voted to campaign for managers to be paid a maximum of five times the lowest-paid worker’s salary.”
Despite receiving a pay-package which is just under three times larger than David Cameron’s salary of £142,500, Hamilton’s salary still falls short of that of the new director of the London School of Economics, Craig Calhoun.
According to The Times Higher Education, Calhoun received £466,000 in 2012-2013, making him the highest paid university boss in the UK.