Marking your own homework

17 February 2018, 20:56 | Updated: 17 February 2018, 20:59

good job

How much do you value your own work?

How do you think you are doing?

What would you give yourself out of ten?

If you are Britishly modest and self-effacing, then you will probably have thought something along the lines of: I am doing quite well, not bad really and I would give myself a six...maybe a seven out of ten on a good day.

But what if I put it like this: how much money do you think you should be earning?

What if you were allowed to set your own pay? How much would you value your efforts then?

Exactly. You would be stinking rich by this time next week. And that is precisely why university vice-chancellors make so much.

A freedom of information request by the University and College Union, which represents university staff, found that 95% of university leaders are either members of their own remuneration committee or entitled to attend their meetings.

Vice-chancellors are paying themselves inflated salaries via “shadowy” remuneration committees meeting in secret behind closed doors.

They have read of bankers doing that and they think that just because they don't really do much for a living, why shouldn't they get telephone number salaries too?

The FOI request also asked institutions to send full minutes of the most recent meeting of their remuneration committee.

Almost none of them complied, for obvious reasons.

Don't worry though, because the body that represents vice-chancellors is on the case.

The Committee of University Chairs published guidelines on executive pay just last month. It stated that VC's should not sit on their own remuneration committees.

So, problem solved, case closed, move along please, nothing to see here.

Except for one small detail: it's voluntary.

Vice-chancellors can voluntarily refuse to sit in on the meeting that sets their own pay and not vote stratospheric wage rises for themselves.

But why would they?

If you could set your own salary, why would you voluntarily choose not to?

Some vice-chancellors think they're worth half a million quid a year, and they say so, and they get it.

Student's degrees might be costing them an arm and a leg, and they may not be able to pay the debt off for years, if ever, and the qualification they come out with might not be worth much because the quality of teaching is not reflected in the cost of their degree but not to worry – at least there's one person making a ton of money out of it.

That is one reason why their tuition costs over 9 grand a year – so that the ceremonial leader of the institution that is putting them in debt for the rest of their lives can go on living in the manner to which they have recently become accustomed.

And it is only recently that this has happened

The average pay for vice-chancellors in 2005/06 was £165,105 plus pensions and accommodation and expenses and etc.

That went up by 56% over the next decade to £257,904 in 2015/16.

Don't worry though, because the body that regulates universities is on the case.

The Office for Students has just come into being and is tasked with representing the interests of students.

They will certainly address this spiralling wage bill for executives who preside over institutions that have decidedly mixed results on student satisfaction.

Unfortunately, its own chief executive, the person in charge of regulating the vice chancellors, is the former chief lobbyist for...vice-chancellors.