Report highlights university principals' pay and perks at Scottish universities

22 February 2017 | last updated: 23 February 2017

University principals received an average salary package of £277,834 for the academic year 2015/16 across the UK, with three Scottish principals appearing in the top 50 highest earners according to a report issued today by UCU Scotland.

The top earner in Scotland was Strathclyde University's Professor Sir Jim McDonald, who took home a total pay package of £360,000 representing eight times the average salary of staff employed at the university he leads.
 
Close behind was Aberdeen University's Professor Sir Ian Diamond on £352,000.  His salary increased by an inflation busting 11% between 2014/15 and 2015/16.  By way of contrast university staff received a 1% increase over the same period.
 
The third Scottish principal appearing in the top 50 highest earners in the UK was Glasgow University's Anton Muscatelli whose total pay package was £322,000.  
 
The union's report also identified that it wasn't just university principals earning inflated salaries at Scottish universities. The University of Edinburgh had 21 members of staff earning more than £200,000 in 2015/16 and 182 earning between £100,000 and £200,000.  The next biggest payer was Glasgow with five employees earning over £200,000, and 152 on more than £100,000.
 
As well as pay the report also examines heads of institutions' spending on flights, hotels and expenses showing Strathclyde University's Jim McDonald the third biggest spender in the UK on flights with expenditure of £29,163.  He was joined in the list of top 20 highest spenders on air fares in the UK by other Scottish principals including Glasgow University's Professor Muscatelli, Professor Andrea Nolan from Edinburgh Napier, and Glasgow Caledonian University's Professor Pamela Gillies.
 
Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, said: 'When university staff have had a 1% pay increase imposed on them it won't sit well that some university principals continue to award themselves inflation busting rises and enjoy expense accounts more than the salary of many staff in the institutions they lead.  The increasing pay and perks of those at the top do us no favours as we try to make the case for better investment in higher education.'

Transparency at the top? The third report of senior pay and perks in UK universities, Feb 17 [2Mb]

 

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