Oxford vice-chancellor blasted for excessive pay… by her bursar
In an open letter to the Financial Times, New College bursar David Palfreyman argued against the rising salaries of Oxford academics, stating that it is difficult to find “value for money return” for their astonishing pay, which does not entail “improvement in governance.”
Palfreyman specifically criticized Oxford’s vice-chancellor, Louise Richardson, who receives £350,000 per year (US$450,000), which rises to £410,000 if her pension is included.
Supporters of the vice-chancellor argue that her salary is dwarfed by the wages of the UK’s top bankers, but Palfreyman fired back, calling the comparison “silly.”
“No sane person could dispute that top bankers are egregiously overpaid, but their daft pay is no reason for VCs to be put on the same gravy train, albeit in a third-class compartment,” the bursar told the Financial Times.
Palfreyman, who has been his college’s bursar since 1988, further added that before the year 2000, Oxford had “got by for eight centuries with the cheapest vice-chancellor in the land.”
Before the 2000 reforms, the vice-chancellor would have been paid the equivalent of £100,000 per year.
I love Oxford University's Employment Motto, " We are a Living Wage Employer," what beautiful words!— Miki Uyehara (@TheGeekMom) 4 March 2017
“We now pay four times as much ... and surround this five to seven-year chief executive with a proliferating cadre of costly helpers as pro vice-chancellors; but few in Oxford would be able to detect any improvement in our governance and management resulting from these ‘reforms’ – or indeed any value-for-money return for this grossly excessive spend on ‘the senior management team,’” the bursar said.
“Fortunately, the academic rhubarb still grows despite the university’s expanding ‘administration’!”
Universities Minister Jo Johnson echoed Palfreyman’s concerns, calling for a halt to the “endless upwards ratchet” of academics’ wages.
However, a University of Oxford spokesperson quoted by MailOnline defended the vice-chancellor’s pay, stating that it was necessary to attract and retain the “talent” needed to keep the UK’s oldest university competitive.
“Oxford is the world’s highest-ranked university ... delivering outstanding teaching and adding £5.8 billion to the UK economy every year.
“The University’s international success is delivered by competing with other globally pre-eminent universities to attract top ... talent. The remuneration of the vice-chancellor reflects this.”
Currently, 450 senior university staff earn more than £100,000 per year, which is primarily financed from student fees.