Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pounds 105,000 Rise for Head as Staff Denied Living Wage

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Pounds 105,000 Rise for Head as Staff Denied Living Wage

Article excerpt

Salary shoots up for Sheffield v-c while UCU strikes over 1% pay offer. Jack Grove reports.

A university leader has accepted a Pounds 105,000 pay rise despite resisting calls to implement the living wage for low-paid staff.

According to published accounts, the pay package of Sir Keith Burnett, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, rose to Pounds 374,000 last year, up from Pounds 269,000 in 2011-12, an increase of 39 per cent.

About a quarter of that rise - Pounds 27,000 - was awarded in lieu of employer pension payments no longer made by Sheffield after Sir Keith left the Universities Superannuation Scheme that year.

However, the 29 per cent rise in his total pay package - Pounds 78,000 - is still by far the largest recorded in the sector so far in 2012-13.

The revelation about Sir Keith's rise in remuneration comes as university staff hold the first of three planned two-hour strikes on 23 January (see box) in protest against this year's offer of a 1 per cent pay rise from employers, which follows four successive below-inflation rises.

There is particular disquiet about the increase at Sheffield as the institution has repeatedly ignored calls from students and academics to ensure that all university workers receive at least the living wage - Pounds 7.65 an hour.

Sir Keith has also faced criticism after Sheffield set up a subsidiary company, Unicus, that will employ all new accommodation and catering staff on different terms and conditions from existing employees.

Documents seen by Times Higher Education indicate that the "special purpose vehicle", which hires staff for retail and catering outlets, was created to lower staffing costs to the "hospitality sector norm" of 40 per cent of total expenditure, rather than the 53 per cent paid by the university.

Pablo Stern, secretary of Sheffield's University and College Union branch, said Sir Keith's pay rise was "extraordinary" and "astonishing" given his desire to cut staff costs elsewhere.

"It is particularly shocking as it came in the year when the special purpose vehicle was set up to pay staff below the bottom rate of the national (higher education) pay spine," Mr Stern said.

The number of university staff paid more than Pounds 100,000 a year at Sheffield had also risen, from 88 to 98, in 2012-13, Mr Stern added.

"This university used to pride itself on being a civic university with a strong collegiate feel. That has disappeared," he said.

Sheffield pro chancellor Tony Pedder, who chairs the senior remuneration committee, said the one-off pay rise was made to secure the services of Sir Keith, who is "one of the most outstanding leaders in the sector".

"This required us to adjust his remuneration to reflect both his national and international standing, and his responsibility in leading a world- class and complex organisation," Mr Pedder said.

Under Sir Keith's leadership, Sheffield has experienced a "period of real success - including outstanding student satisfaction, sustained increases in research funding, league table success ... and being awarded the title (of THE) University of the Year (in 2011)", Mr Pedder said.

Staff employed by Unicus received "reward and recognition packages that are competitive within the hospitality and retail sectors", while the living wage was rejected because the "revised reward and recognition strategy best addresses the issue", a university spokesman added. …

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