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Academic… surely? September 17, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Following the discussion, actually it’s more like an argument, about high levels of pay for chancellors and vice-chancellors of UK universities it’s kind of breathtaking the excuses being put out about why some are ‘worth it’. As Sonia Sodha notes in the Guardian:

According to Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of Oxford University, one of the reasons we shouldn’t be worried about high levels of top university pay is that footballers and bankers earn more. It sounds like she’s been brushing up on Lynton Crosby’s “dead cat” election campaign strategy: distract voters from the real problem by chucking in something more sensational. Let’s just say comparing yourself to the investment bankers who crashed our economy suggests her argument needs a little more work.

And…

The global marketplace was her other defence for pay packages that have broken the £400,000 barrier in a sector where annual increases of over 10% are far from unheard of. It’s the same tired old argument we hear in relation to corporate pay: we have to pay the millions we do, otherwise Britain will lose its top talent. But executive pay is about as far from a competitive marketplace as you can get. Instead, company boards reward their chief executives so they can boast they pay above the FTSE 100 average. The result: a fat-cat arms race, in which salary growth bears little resemblance to long-term company growth.

What is so dispiriting is the sense that just as with private enterprise there is now a clear dynamic embedded in the society whereby there is an expectation that such salaries are natural, indeed unquestionable. Certainly the whiff of any such questions being lese-majeste comes across from some very clearly.

And as Sodha notes, this isn’t an incidental issue…

Those who claim vice-chancellor pay is irrelevant because it’s a fraction of university spending are missing the point: these salaries have become a symbol of justified concerns about value for money. What is the extra cash being spent on?
The truth is, universities are so opaque about their finances – even arguing that they should be exempt from freedom of information legislation – that it’s hard to know. Probably not on attracting and training top teachers: more than half the lecturers at the leading Russell Group institutions are on insecure contracts. More probably, it goes on risky capital investment projects, with £2bn of construction spending planned in the next three years.

And there’s worse than that…

Universities should be much more transparent about how they spend student and taxpayer money. This will raise tricky questions: are working-class students on cheaper-to-provide courses such as English cross-subsidising more affluent students taking more expensive subjects, such as engineering? Should students be cross-subsidising research? These are important issues, and we should be exploring them.

Where students are in all this is difficult to discern. Or education. Or…

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Comments»

1. bjg - September 17, 2017

But are universities part of the public sector? Brian Lucey https://brianmlucey.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/more-on-funding-universities/ recently pointed out that, in Ireland, “the state is no longer the largest funder, and isn’t providing even half the funds”. If you don’t pay the piper ….

bjg

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2. Ninth Level Ireland » Blog Archive » Academic … surely? - September 17, 2017

[…] “Following the discussion, actually it’s more like an argument, about high levels of pay for chancellors and vice-chancellors of UK universities it’s kind of breathtaking the excuses being put out about why some are ‘worth it’ …” (more) […]

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3. Michael Carley - September 17, 2017

My union branch has been making the running on this for years.

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Michael Carley - September 18, 2017

And to expand on it, now I’m back at a keyboard, it’s the Bath VC who has been singled out as the worst offender. The union branch has been banging away about it for years, including getting national policy adopted on pay ratios (10:1) and transparency (even the governing body is not hold how the boss’s pay is set). Andrew Adonis does have a particular agenda (he wants universities to be more “efficient”) but he’s right about the pay. It is completely out of hand, and the justifications have been laughable.

More amusement here:

http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/news/bath-news/councillor-joe-rayment-calls-resignation-196121

And here she is with the Paras:

http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/news/bath-news/panel-wont-reveal-new-salary-200524

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4. sonofstan - September 17, 2017

We’re undergoing a ‘transformation programme’ at the moment – which I keep calling operation transformation – and we had a presentation recently from the person chairing the something or other committee at the top of the endless committees overseeing this process (I’m on two of them)
Anyway, her first slide was a pie chart illustrating the 12 segments of the process, supposed to correlate with our ‘key’ activities. Up goes a hand: ‘I don’t see education anywhere there’ says the man at the back…..

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Michael Carley - September 17, 2017

Do keep up. We’ve a Vice-President (Implementation).

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FergusD - September 18, 2017

Would you believe it we are in the midst of a “Project Transform” at the moment! And a huge building programme!

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5. EWI - September 17, 2017

UCC were the benchmark on this for many years, I hear though that TCD, UCD and even the DIT* are anxious to take the crown though.

* Grangegorman finally built, back to getting rid of the smelly non-degree students advocating for long overdue university status. Woohoo!

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6. Pasionario - September 17, 2017

It’s even crazier in the US where university “presidents” regularly get paid in excess of a million bucks per year — with all sorts of perks on top of that.

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