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Revealed: One in three Russell Group university bosses received pay rises last year

Imperial’s President got £124k just for accommodation costs


Nine of the 24 Russell Group university bosses received pay increases in the academic year 2020/21, recently published accounts reveal.

Vice Chancellors at the UK’s top universities were paid on average £379k in total, slightly down from £389k the previous year.

UCL paid the most money for the big job- a whopping £589k to be exact. This was partially because Michael Spence took over as the university’s President midway through the academic year, meaning that the total the uni paid its top dogs was split between him and his predecessor.

Imperial College London President Alice Gast received the fattest pay package for a single person, standing at £519k.

The lowest paid university boss, on a *paltry* quarter of a million pounds a year, is York Vice Chancellor Charlie Jeffrey. Let’s all spare a thought for Charlie.

Now it needs to be said that these pay packages take into account basic salary, pensions, benefits, bonuses and accommodation costs, among other things.

A humungous £124k chunk of Alice Gast’s salary was purely for accommodation costs, but to be fair, it is an expensive time to live in London.

To make UCL President Michael Spence’s move from Australia to the UK’s capital that bit more comfortable, the university kindly gave him £25k just for “relocation costs.”

Over to Cambridge, where I hope Vice Chancellor Steven Toope buys his own toilet roll because it doesn’t look like he coughs up for much else. Benefits that come with his job include £5k for private healthcare and another £5k for flights.

It has to be said, however, that many of the big bosses did take admirable pay cuts to recognise the financial hardship inflicted on their universities by the pandemic.

LSE Director Minouche Shafik gave up £44k of her salary, for instance. Her pension contributions went up, however, as did her accommodation costs, meaning that she was just £ 21k worse off compared with the year before. What am I trying to say? Shafik took home £486k in the academic year 2020-21. I think she can take the hit.

As mentioned earlier, Vice Chancellors salaries actually fell on average by around £10k, mostly due to voluntary pay cuts during the pandemic.

Exeter Vice Chancellor Lisa Roberts received around 101k less than her predecessor Sir Steve Smith who left his job with a lucrative bonus.

Here’s how the pay packages of the Russell Group unis bosses differed between the academic year 2020/21 and the previous year.

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