University vice-chancellor pay has shot up by an average of 14 per cent over the past five years, according to a Freedom of Information request made by the University and College Union (UCU) to UK higher education institutions.
The research, taken from the minutes of remuneration committees responsible for setting vice-chancellor salaries, revealed an average salary of £272,432 for the 2014/15 academic year, an increase of 3 per cent from the year before.
Compared to the vice-chancellor, other staff received a 2 per cent rise in 2014/15 and only a 5 per cent increase over the last five years.
Kingston University’s vice-chancellor, Julius Weinberg, was paid £248,000 in 2014/15, a 4 per cent rise from the previous academic year. The highest recorded earner was Professor Andrew Hamilton of Oxford University with a salary of £462,000.
Salary increases for most university staff are determined at a national level in negotiations between universities the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.
Vice-chancellors also spent an average of £8,560 on flights in 2014/2015, over half of which were in business or first class. Twenty-one vice-chancellors flew exclusively in first or business class.
Kingston’s Julius Weinberg spent £4,153.77 on flights, £886.32 on hotel rooms and £467.02 on other expenses in 2014/15.
Professor Simon Gaskell of Queen Mary University of London had the most costly expenses at £22,805.
A Kingston University spokesperson said: “It is not possible to predict on a yearly basis which activities the vice-chancellor will be carrying out, so no specific amount is set aside for expenses each year.
“According to the most recent published figures, the salary for Kingston University’s vice-chancellor is below the national average for heads of higher education institutions.”
Lauren Butler, a Kingston University student, said: “I think he is kind of overpaid but I can’t really judge properly because we don’t really know how hard he works and what he actually does to deserve it.
“But I do think it’s kind of ridiculous that vice-chancellors are getting top rate hotel rooms and first-class flights when they aren’t really necessary. Surely there are better uses for that money?”
Of all the universities UCU requested data from 18 did not respond, three used exemptions to refuse to answer all the questions and four only answered one of the enquiries.