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Pay report exposes universities regulator as 'paper tiger'

12 February 2019

UCU has branded a report from the Office for Students (OfS) into senior pay at universities as lightweight and said it exposed the regulator as a 'paper tiger'.

The union said the report failed to look at the excessive and arbitrary rises still enjoyed by some vice-chancellors, or tackle the expenses and other benefits in kind that have plagued universities in recent years.

OfS chief executive Nicola Dandridge previously told the education select committee that the OfS was 'proposing that anyone being paid more than £150,000 per year will be required to justify it, and the OfS will look at that justification to make sure that it is appropriate'.

The report shows that only four institutions out of 133 (3%) paid their head under that £150,000 threshold, and contained no details about the justification for those awards. Around half (47%) paid out more than £300,000 in 2017/18.

UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said: 'With this lightweight report the OfS has shown itself to be a paper tiger incapable of stopping the pay and perks scandals that have plagued universities. The report simply regurgitates some of the analysis done by UCU and others in recent years, but pulls its punches on how to address the problem. 

'The OfS fails to ask why some vice-chancellors are still picking up double digit pay rises and doesn't even look at their expenses or other benefits in kind. This report sends a message that those who accept such largesse have nothing to fear from the new regulator.'

Last updated: 12 February 2019