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The pay of senior staff in higher education instituions (HEIs) in England has been under close scrutiny since 2017 when it was disclosed that the vice-chancellor of the Univeresity of Bath was paid a salary of £451,000 in 2016/17. It was suggested at the time that increases in pay could be linked to the increase in tuition fees in 2012 but this was not proven. 

In 2017-18 the average basic salary for ‘heads of providers’ (vice-chancellors) in England was £253,000. The average total remuneration package (including bonuses, one off payments and pensions) was £299,000

Six universities in England paid their vice-chancellors £500,000 or more in salary, bonuses and benefits in 2017‑18.

In June 2018 the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) published the Higher Education Senior Staff Remuneration Code. This code aimed to help HEIs make senior staff pay fairer and more appropriate, but the code was criticised by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) for being voluntary and inadequate.

Library briefing paper, Vice-chancellors’ pay in higher education institutions in England, 20 June 2018 outlined the policy issues and debate.

The Office for Students (OfS) has a role in senior staff pay as part of its remit to ensure value for money for the taxpayer. In February 2019 the OfS published its first annual report on senior staff renumeration, Senior staff remuneration Analysis of the 2017-18 disclosures.The report showed that the majority of vice-chancellors received an increase in basic salary or total remuneration between 2016-17 abd 2017-18. 

This briefing provides an update on senior pay since the introduction of the CUC code and the publication of the OfS report.


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