University chiefs in the West Midlands are being paid twice as much as the Prime Minister – and enjoying a string of lavish perks – as they wield the axe on staff and courses.
An investigation by the Birmingham Post has revealed the salary-and-benefits packages of globe-trotting vice chancellors at a time when the coalition Government has called for cuts restraint in public spending.
Angry unions have warned hundreds of staff will be made redundant and courses will be scrapped as universities grapple with 25 per cent cuts. They have accused the vice chancellors of “living like viceroys”.
Birmingham City University’s vice chancellor David Tidmarsh received an inflation-busting 10 per cent pay increase from £213,843 in 2007-08 to £237,864 in 2008-09. He claimed a relatively modest £700 in expenses for the same time period.
All of the universities are making redundancies.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has launched a scathing attack on the salaries of vice-chancellors, who he described as being “out of touch with reality on pay levels.”
Mr Cable said: “It is critical that all of us who receive public funds to provide public services play our part in reducing the burden of public debt and restoring financial health.
“We are expecting the Business, Innovation and Skills Department to apply restraint on all aspects of pay and bonuses with a lead being given by senior staff.
“We expect universities and colleges will wish to do the same.”
In a letter sent to universities, also signed by University Minister David Willetts, Mr Cable said: “All universities have the right and responsibility to make your own decisions. Nonetheless, we hope you will bear in mind these expectations that we are applying elsewhere across publicly funded agencies and services.”
Mr Cable said: “Although it is not our job to control pay, we want to signal to the universities that there has got to be some restraint.”
Martin Machon, regional officer for the University and College Union (UCU), said staff would be “shocked and horrified” about chauffeurs, rent-free houses and expensive artwork.
He said: “University staff are being made redundant in their hundreds across the Midlands and we now hear that vice chancellors are receiving huge annual pay increases and are living with all the trappings of a viceroy.
“It is the old issue of spending other people’s money. They should set an example in these difficult times and should consider pay cuts like the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.”
Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: “At a time when vice chancellors are already pushing for students and their families to pay more to access their universities it is disappointing that they think it is acceptable to claim such luxuries.
“The Government has just announced another round of cuts to university funding and students cannot be expected to pay for these kinds of extravagances.”
PAY AND BONUSES OF THE VICE CHANCELLORS
Birmingham City University – Vice chancellor Prof David Tidmarsh
Salary: 07/08 – £213,843
08/09 – £237,864 (Unable to provide details for 09/10)
The University also paid pensions contributions worth £32,021
* Expenses (including personal expense claims, travel and credit card payments): £705.38
* Accommodation: None