With staff from 58 universities having voted for strikes, it’s easy to see why some feel such drastic action is necessary when recently released figures for staff pay show such glaring disparities.
Data from the Office for Students (OfS) revealed that the highest pay packet for university vice-chancellors was more than £500,000 with University of Exeter, Imperial College London and the London School of Economics taking the top spots.
Just 1.8% of university staff received a basic salary of £100,000 or more in the academic year 2019/20.
The University and College Union’s (UCU) General Secretary, Jo Grady, said that the “grotesque levels of inequality are not only immoral but unsustainable too, undermining the whole sector”.
“[Vice-chancellors] should now look their staff in the eye and explain why they can’t provide proper pay rises, decent pensions and secure contracts.”
This comes as it was shown university staff pay had fallen 29% on average between 2009-2019. The average basic salary of heads of providers in the UK was £219,000 for 2019/20. Michael Queen, chairman of the Committee of University Chairs said that those in vice-chancellor positions offer necessary and unique experience to support the interests of the university.
Higher education has been blighted by the impacts of COVID-19 but the sector will continue to experience disruptions until tensions over pay have been settled.