University rich list revealed as figures show over 4,000 staff are paid more than £100,000 a year 

More than 4,000 university staff are paid more than £100,000 a year, a new rich list has revealed.

Edinburgh University had the most high earners last year, with 359 staff receiving over £100,000 in total remuneration, of which 110 received over £150,000.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance, which compiled the rich list by sending freedom of information requests to 120 institutions, said that higher pay is “soaring” in universities. 

In 2016/17, there were 3,947 university staff members paid over £100,000 which rose by 12 per cent to 4,423 the following year. The number of staff paid over £150,000 rose by a similar proportion over the same period, from 867 to 976.

Kieran Neild of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said their findings shine a light on the “thousands of university administrators taking home very plush pay packets”.

He said: “Taxpayers and students will be left with a degree of uncertainty over whether this is money is being well spent, particularly when left-wing professors are so keen to lecture them about the evils of inequality. 

“Instead of constantly complaining about faculty budget cuts, university bosses need to get their bumper wage bills under control and focus on providing their students with the very best higher education they can.”

British universities employed 429,560 people last year, according to data from the Higher Education Statistical Agency, up 2.3 per cent from the year before.

David Palfreyman, director of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies, said that vice-Chancellors now surround themselves with a “cadre” of highly paid managerial staff. “Compared with 25-30 years ago, there are now far more managers at universities,” he said.

Mr Palfreyman, who is the Bursar at New College, Oxford, added that there is “some justification” to accusation that the higher education sector has got “carried away” with “administrative bloat”.  

Vice-Chancellors have come under fire for their vast paypackets. Earlier this year it emerged that the average pay for university chiefs rose above £250,000 for the first time as more than 100 institutions offered pay rises in the last year despite heavy criticism of the salaries.

According to the Office for Students, the average basic salary for a university vice chancellor rose ahead of inflation, from £245,000 a year to £253,000 a year, with five heads earning more than £500,000 with benefits and severance payments included.

The universities watchdog has warned that university chiefs must be prepared to answer “tough questions” and be able to justify their salaries where necessary.  

There has been increased scrutiny on large salaries of university chiefs, especially after student fees rose to £9,250 per year at many institutions.

Ministers have called on universities, which are autonomous and set their own salaries, to show more restraint rather than “ratcheting up” salaries at a higher rate than inflation.

A spokesman for Universities UK said: “It is important for universities to demonstrate that the process for determining pay for senior university staff is rigorous and that decisions are fair, explained and justified.

“We support the Committee of University Chairs’ Remuneration Code and its principles to create a more transparent system for determining senior staff pay.”