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1 in 6 universities refuse FOI requests on VC's expenses

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Joined: 07 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:53 am    Post subject: 1 in 6 universities refuse FOI requests on VC's expenses Reply with quote

One in six universities refuse to answer FOI requests on vice-chancellors' expenses

4 March 2015
Report reveals UK vice-chancellors earn £260,000 on average and are spending thousands on luxury flights and hotel accommodation, while universities deny access to minutes of 'shadowy' committees setting senior pay.

University bosses enjoyed an average salary of £260,000 and spent up to £60,000 on premium flights last year, according to a new report released today by UCU. However 16% of institutions (24 out of 155) either refused to respond to the union's FOI requests or used exemptions to avoid releasing the information it asked for.

The report, (.pdf) file type icon Transparency at the top? Senior pay and perks in UK universities (.pdf) [1.0Mb], also revealed that 18 vice-chancellors enjoyed a salary hike of over 10%, despite overseeing a bitter pay dispute that saw staff take strike action to secure a 2% pay deal. Some university vice-chancellors ran up thousands of pounds in annual hotel bills and expenses claims.

UCU says its report exposes how UK universities adopt hugely varying levels of transparency around vice-chancellors' pay and perks. Seven simply did not respond and the other 17 used various FOI exemptions to avoid releasing the information. The majority of institutions responded to some of the requests for information and used exemptions on others, or said they did not keep the information.

In 2013/14 the average vice-chancellor in a UK university spent £9,706 on flights, of which over two-thirds (68%) were in first or business class. They racked up an average hotel bill of £3,202 and claimed expenses of £3,113.

Leading the way on flight expenditure was the LSE's Craig Calhoun who spent £59,812 on first or business class flights. Pamela Gillies at Glasgow Caledonian University was the largest spender on hotels, running up bills totalling £27,271 in 2013/14, and Gavin Henderson of London's Royal Central School for Speech and Drama boasted the largest expense account of £33,526.

In 2013/14, the average salary for vice-chancellors was £260,290. Eighteen vice-chancellors enjoyed a pay increase of more than 10%, while the largest increase was 70.2%. On average, vice-chancellors were paid 6.4 times more than an average member of staff. The report also reveals that 20 institutions had more than 100 members of staff earning over £100,000 a year.

In an attempt to understand the rationale for setting higher salaries, UCU also requested a copy of the most recent minutes of the remuneration committee - the committee tasked with determining its vice-chancellor's pay - and if the vice-chancellor sat on that committee.

Only half of the institutions (50%) provided a copy of the minutes. Of those minutes provided (51%) had been redacted to obscure key information. Over two-thirds of vice-chancellors (71%) are either members of the remuneration committee or can attend.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, said: 'What has been most striking is the huge variation in universities' responses to our requests for information. Too many institutions refused to provide any information on expenses and the majority showed a strong determination to keep the details of decisions on senior pay a closely-guarded secret.

'Even where minutes of the committee tasked with setting senior pay were supplied, they were often redacted to the point where they were rendered meaningless.

'Many staff and students will be amazed at the size of vice-chancellors' salaries, and at the largesse displayed by some university leaders when it comes to first class flights, hotels and other expenses. That this is happening in public institutions which are largely funded by the taxpayer and students makes the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding senior pay and perks a national scandal.

'UCU has raised with ministers time and again the need for a national register of pay and perks, which would also set out the rationale for any increases. We need agreed standards for open and transparent governance in our universities so trust in the system can be restored.'

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The same institutions that hire teaching staff on zero hours contracts !
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Universities are not businesses. Legally, they are charities, but the closer analogy would be a public coastal path or an urban park, a place created for the good of citizens. The current denaturing of the universities treats them less like a park than a shopping mall.
Micro-managed performance reviews are relentlessly imposed on teachers on short contracts, yet the people in charge don't have to undergo anything of the kind.
A new nomenklatura has arisen: the vice-chancellors and their ever proliferating numbers of pro-vice chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors along with a burgeoning army of fundraisers, whose fees are not easily discoverable in the accounts. As many of these apparatchiks are paid much, much more than most professors, let alone lecturers and contract teachers or other staff, these posts exert a powerful pull, especially on those who would not meet the academic criteria they impose on their underpaid underlings.
Confidentiality was invoked when King's College London defended in court its refusal to divulge the six-figure salaries of its most highly paid staff : such disclosures would result in bad blood among the staff. The high salaries are needed, it is forever argued, because making money for education requires business pay scales. But even if this were the case - which I do not concede - the current arrangements reveal that education is becoming the mask plastered over another set of activities. Universities are turning into Potemkin villages where students are paying for the privilege of figuring themselves.
Since universities are charities their executives should be paid accordingly, yet the 110,000 GB pound salary to the director of Oxfam was recently criticized for being too high. The differential between the highest paid and the lowest paid in a university should be no greater than 7 to 1; at present the ratio is more like 14 to 1 ( UCL student protesters calculate that the vice chancellor is paid a cleaner's annual wage every 19 days).
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dedicated wrote:
UCL student protesters calculate that the vice chancellor is paid a cleaner's annual wage every 19 days).

That just about sums it up. I think that a VC would be paid an EAP Teacher's annual wage every 21 days. Anyone beg to differ?
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