Row over university bosses pay ‘secrecy’

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Two of Lancashire’s leading universities have come under fire in a row over bosses pay.

The Universities and College Union says both Lancaster and the University of Central Lancashire refused to release the minutes of meetings where their vice-chancellors’ pay rises were decided, according to a report into senior academic pay.

The revelations are part of a UK-wide report into senior academic pay by the lecturers union.

The union contacted universities asking to see the minutes of the remuneration committee - a small sub-group tasked with setting senior pay. Most refused to refused the request.

According to details released earlier this year, last year professor Mark Smith, vice-chancellor of the University of Lancaster, saw his pay rise by 13.8 per cent to £239,000 a year.

The University of Central Lancashire however,cut the pay of its vice-chancellor Professor Gerry Kelleher by 2.9 per cent although he still enjoyed a handsome salary of £233,000.

However, the universities said the data was incorrect because it reflected cross-over salaries.

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: “Millions of pounds of public money are spent on vice-chancellors’ salaries, yet their pay rise is decided behind closed doors with no accountability.

The time has come for the lid to be lifted on the murky world of remuneration committees and senior pay in our universities.

“Students are paying £9,000 a year to study for a degree and they, and the taxpayer, have a right to know why so much of their money is going on paying the vice-chancellor.”

A spokesman for UCLan said: “ At UCLan and throughout the UK vice-chancellors have their pay determined independently by separate remuneration committees composed of key members of the governing body.”

He added: “ At the University of Central Lancashire, one of the largest in the UK and with an annual income of nearly £200 million, the outgoing vice-chancellor Malcolm McVicar received a pay increase of one per cent in 2012/13 which is in-line with the year’s national pay settlement agreed for all staff working in higher education.

A Lancaster University spokesman said: “Due to the restricted nature of the minutes and the range of issues discussed at the meeting we were unable to release the minutes.”

She added that the actual salary of Lancaster’s current vice-chancellor increased by two per cent in the period considered. The figure does not reflect the current base salary which is well below the national average.”

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