The University and College Union (UCU) recently sent a freedom of information (FOI) request. The union represents university staff and the request comes when industrial action by staff is imminent. Whilst there is a dispute over pensions, the request found that 95% of university leaders are involved with the establishment of their wages.
University Leaders Aren’t Transparent About Their Wages
Most university leaders are members of a remuneration committee which decides their salary. Those who aren’t part of the committee are still allowed to attend the meetings that set their pay. The finding was driven by concerns about the fairness of executive salaries. This information comes when university staff are set to take strike action in a dispute over their pension.
Too Many University Leaders Are Involved
Out of the 158 institutions that were surveyed, only seven vice-chancellors were not allowed to have any involvement with the remuneration committee or meeting. Almost half of responses outlined that their vice-chancellors were part of the committees whilst 67% were still allowed to attend meetings.
Critics have accused vice-chancellors of over inflating their own wages. The findings will only add to the present frustrations of students who incur masses of debt and staff who aren’t properly provided for. Also, there is a severe lack of transparency surrounding the meetings themselves, with only 40% of institutions involved submitted committee minutes, upon the request of the FOI. The other 55% refused to send their minutes.
Pressure for Change
Politicians have condemned extortionate vice-chancellors’ salaries and are pressuring for change. As a result, the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) made it clear that vice-chancellors should not be involved in the issuing of their salaries. This is up for consultation and expected to be implemented later in 2018. The Office For Students (the new universities regulator) has warned it will become involved the issue isn’t put into order.
Proper transparency is needed remuneration committees should not be treated as independent bodies for senior pay. Although politicians are pressuring for change, there haven’t been any implantations so far. There are hopes that the involvement of the Office for Students will be successful. For now, the main priority is to make the remuneration process fair whilst holding vice-chancellors to account. Senior leaders should have their pay reviewed and committees should justify their decisions.