The vice-chancellor of Birmingham University looks set to top the university pay league tables with a salary of £444,000.
Sir David Eastwood’s pay rose from £439,000 last year, according to accounts published online, despite protests by more than 160 academics at Birmingham amid ongoing tensions over senior staff pay in higher education.
Another of Britain’s highest paid vice-chancellors, Sir Christopher Snowden of the University of Southampton, kept his £436,000 salary despite calls for it to be cut from thousands of students.
Professor Alice Gast, president of Imperial College London, was also among the top five most highly paid university heads, receiving £433,000, including pension coverage and taxable benefits, in the year 2017-2018.
Criticism over executives’ pay intensified last year with angry student demonstrations across the country.
Jo Johnson, then universities minister, singled out Sir Christopher’s salary as he warned against the “endless upwards ratchet” of vice-chancellors’ pay.
Some of those who topped the previous year’s league tables have been replaced.
Christina Slade of Bath Spa University, who topped the 2016-2017 table with a salary of £808,000, left her role last August receiving a £429,000 pay-off.
Dame Glynis Breakwell of the University of Bath who earned £471,000, during that financial year, resigned last November and was succeeded by Prof Ian White, who boasts a relatively modest package of £266,000.
Nick Hillman, head of the Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank, told the Financial Times: “There are some vice-chancellors who are clearly going to cost a lot to hire and there are some who have such a strong record in moving their institution up in terms of financial sustainability and student numbers that they deserve a big pay packet.
“But I don’t think you will find anyone who would argue that every past package has been justified and so it is good that governors are now gripping the issue.”