Almost 50 universities chiefs kept fat cat salaries since pandemic began despite students suffering

£457,000 package: Louise Richardson (pictured) vice-chancellor of Oxford University has not taken a pay hit

£457,000 package: Louise Richardson (pictured) vice-chancellor of Oxford University has not taken a pay hit

Dozens of university bosses have taken no pay cut since the pandemic struck despite students suffering huge disruption, a Daily Mail analysis has revealed.

At least 46 vice-chancellors still have the same generous salaries they received before Covid-19 led to potentially months of lost learning. 

Another eight who agreed to reduce salaries in the spring as staff were furloughed and lectures cancelled have now returned to full pay.

Only 22 university leaders are taking home smaller wage packets as a result of the pandemic. 

It comes after UK universities asked for a £2billion bailout from the Government and a survey of 100,000 students found 65 per cent had no face-to-face teaching in November. 

Those now back on full pay include Imperial College London’s Alice Gast – the UK’s best-paid university boss – who gets more than £500,000 a year and who recently apologised for bullying a colleague.

Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, which is rated best in the world, has also not taken a pay hit. 

Her basic salary was £374,000 in 2019-20, but her total package was £457,000. 

Bosses of many of the 24-strong Russell Group of top universities did take a hit to their pay, but have since gone back to full salaries, FOI revealed.  Pictured: Oxford University

Bosses of many of the 24-strong Russell Group of top universities did take a hit to their pay, but have since gone back to full salaries, FOI revealed.  Pictured: Oxford University

Colin Bailey, of Queen Mary University of London, continued to take home £300,000 while David Green, of Worcester University, kept his £325,227 salary. 

At Northumbria University, where 770 students tested positive for Covid in October, vice-chancellor Andrew Wathey stayed on £255,000 but was not given a bonus.

Derby University said its vice-chancellor Kathryn Mitchell offered to take a cut to her £244,036 salary – but the remuneration committee rejected the move. 

Other universities whose bosses did not take pay cuts include Bath, Chester, Greenwich, Huddersfield, Leicester, Reading, South Wales, West London and Winchester, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Bosses of many of the 24-strong Russell Group of top universities did take a hit to their pay, but have since gone back to full salaries.

Imperial College London said of Professor Gast: ‘The president took a 20 per cent voluntary salary reduction for six months from May 2020.’ 

She is now back on full pay. In the year to July she received a total of £527,000. The £17,800 saved by her temporary cut went to ‘staff and students experiencing extreme financial hardship’. 

Another 22 vice-chancellors are still taking home less pay than before coronavirus struck, including those at Cambridge, York, Nottingham and the Royal Academy of Music.

Nancy Rothwell, of Manchester University – where students tore down ‘prison-like’ fences put up to enforce a lockdown in halls (pictured) – has had her £260,399 salary cut by 20 per cent since April

Nancy Rothwell, of Manchester University – where students tore down ‘prison-like’ fences put up to enforce a lockdown in halls (pictured) – has had her £260,399 salary cut by 20 per cent since April

Some are donating to student hardship funds. Cambridge University’s Professor Stephen Toope’s basic salary is now £379,001 after he offered to reduce it by 15 per cent in May. 

Nancy Rothwell, of Manchester University – where students tore down ‘prison-like’ fences put up to enforce a lockdown in halls – has had her £260,399 salary cut by 20 per cent since April.

Larissa Kennedy, of the National Union of Students, said: ‘Students have faced significant financial issues throughout the pandemic – yet this is clearly not being felt by university leaders.’

Vice-chancellors could face scrutiny from watchdog the Office for Students after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson asked it to ‘look closely’ at pay and bonuses. 

The Department for Education said: ‘Universities receive significant amounts of public funding so it is only right their senior staff pay arrangements are not excessive and command public confidence.’

…as rent strike threat forces rebates

Universities have been forced to climb down and offer rent rebates after thousands of students threatened to withhold money during lockdown.

A nationwide rent strike had been suggested as students, who pay £9,250 a year in tuition fees, were still being asked to foot bills of thousands of pounds for halls of residence they were unable to live in.

Anger: Students protest in Manchester by taping messages to the windows of their student accommodation reading: '9k [for] what?'

Anger: Students protest in Manchester by taping messages to the windows of their student accommodation reading: ‘9k [for] what?’

They have been forced to receive mainly online learning in lockdown.

A string of universities has now begun offering full or partial refunds, with Birmingham, Nottingham, Warwick and Loughborough pledging to freeze payments until at least mid-February.

Cambridge, University College London and the London School of Economics offered rebates last week. The University of East Anglia also offered an eight-week rebate, costing ‘up to £4.7million’.

Nottingham was staring at a £1.8million loss if students followed through with their rent strike threat. Birmingham Students’ Union said: ‘This is a big win for us.’  

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