LIKE all senior public sector executives, university vice-chancellors should not be exempt from scrutiny over their pay after the remuneration packages afforded to a number of senior academics caused consternation when set in the context of student tuition fees and the public sector pay cap.
As such, today’s recommendation that there should be total transparency over these contractual arrangements – and that vice-chancellors should no longer sit on those committees which decide these matters – is long overdue. Total transparency must be the guiding principle.
Yet it does not follow that this will lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of leadership. Universities should be looking to recruit the brightest and the best. They are not just schools of learning. They are also research centres of repute – and, invariably, make a significant contribution to the wider economy. Not only are they major employers but their excellence also creates jobs – ‘added value’ that should not be discounted when pay and performance is considered. Yorkshire’s major cities and towns would be much the poorer if it was not for the continuing vision and innovation of the region’s universities. Therefore, the most effective vice-chancellors should have nothing to fear from the new arrangements.