All out for USS

The UK's least transparent universities named and shamed

5 February 2016

UCU has today named and shamed the UK's least transparent universities.

A total of 24 institutions* refused to provide details of their bosses' pay and perks in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from the union.

University vice-chancellors' pay and perks have long been a source of frustration for staff and government ministers with huge sums of public money going on healthy salary increases, first class trips around the globe and other bizarre expenses.

The union said greater sanctions were needed to ensure universities justified some of the largesse that has embarrassed higher education in recent years. The union's call comes as the government consults on whether or not to exempt universities from freedom of information legislation.

The union will be releasing its latest pay and perks survey on Thursday (11 February) and said that universities should not escape the spotlight by refusing to answer legitimate questions about their finances and how they spend public money.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Freedom of Information legislation is important in holding universities that spend millions of pounds of public money to account. It is not acceptable that some universities simply refuse to share this information.

'The full extent of universities' spending on pay and perks for their bosses may make uncomfortable reading for some, but that does not give them the right to escape scrutiny.

'To exempt universities from freedom of information legislation at a time of increased costs for students does not make sense. We want to see greater sanctions on universities that blatantly ignore these requests or try to wriggle out their responsibilities.'

* Eighteen of the 159 institutions UCU wrote to failed to respond to the FoI request:

Anglia Ruskin University
The University of Bolton
The University of Brighton
University of Chester
Edge Hill University
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
The Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts
Rose Bruford College
St George's Hospital Medical School
The University of Southampton
The University of Warwick
The University of Winchester
The University of Wolverhampton
Aberystwyth University
The University of Aberdeen
Rural College of Scotland (SRUC)
The University of Ulster

Another two - the University of Birmingham and Coventry University - avoided answering all questions by deploying exemptions under the FoI Act.

A further four- Bath Spa University, the University of Northampton, St Andrews University and the University of the Highlands and Islands - answered just one question.