British university: Big changes in the administration

British university vice-chancellor paid half a million pounds

It’s always a good idea to know who’s in charge, who are the people making the big decisions and it’s also a good idea to know how much they are earning. It came out recently in the British press that some university vice-chancellors were being paid almost half a million pounds a year, three times that of the British Prime Minister! To curb the spending – and also the huge golden handshakes some of them are receiving on retirement, the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) is to set out guidelines on university pay. It was also discovered that some university heads sat on the committees that decided their salaries!

The UK government is also to launch the Office for Students, a regulatory authority for all Higher Education in England which will begin operations on April 1st after merging several other agencies. Its remit will include student loans and the awarding of degrees as well as salaries for university staff. However, even before its inauguration, the OfS has hit controversy.

Writer and free school charity director, Toby Young, stepped down from a seat on the OfS board as a non-executive director only a week after his post was announced. He had been criticised for tweets and comments he had made when he was a provocative journalist before he became involved in educational reforms.

British university, big changes

Young’s decision to step down was welcomed by Sir Michael Barber, chair of the Office for Students but dismayed Jo Johnson, the universities minister, who tweeted that Young’s ‘track record setting up and supporting free schools speaks for itself.’ Johnson was soon moved away from universities into the transport department in the cabinet reshuffle and was replaced by Sam Gyimah who was formerly prisons minister and campaigned against Brexit.

It has been a crazy week not just for reshuffling education departments politicians but for comments about what actions they had taken. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Prime Minister Theresa May’s former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, claimed former education ministers Justine Greening and Johnson had blocked proposals to reduce interest rates on student loan repayment and allow academic institutions to charge different fees. He wrote, “Many [young people] emerge with good degrees, but others come out with costly qualifications that make little difference. On average, they will graduate with debts of £50,000, the highest in the world. Those who do not go to university – still more than half of young people – are neglected by a system guilty of institutionalized snobbery.”

Salary of Vice-Chancellor of Bath University: £468,000

Salary of the British Prime Minister: £150,000

Salary of President of Columbia University: $3.3 million

Salary of President of Yale University: $1.3 million


With twenty years’ experience as an international journalist and travel writer, Jon Bryant has written for The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer and The Times. He also teaches journalism at the EDJ in Nice, France. He is the co-author of the Financial literacy book for children ‘It Doesn’t Grow On Trees’.