Watchdog warns university bosses will have to justify pay in crackdown on huge salaries

The new Office for Students (OfS) regulator wants full details of vice-chancellors’ pay – including their bonuses and benefits – to be published in an annual report.

It comes amid continuing concerns over university boss pay with some raking in as much as £500,000 and the average salary and benefits totalling more than £330,000.

OfS chief executive Nicola Dandridge said: “Students and taxpayers need to be confident that our university leaders are paid appropriately and deliver value for money.

“High levels of pay that are out of kilter with pay levels elsewhere and which cannot be justified are unacceptable.

“The Office for Students is today setting out our increased expectations around senior pay.

“Higher education providers will have to give us full details of the total pay package of their vice chancellor. In addition, they will have to provide detailed justification of this package.

“As part of this, we will be looking at the ratio between the head of institution’s pay and the pay of the other staff at the institution. This will provide additional visibility and transparency – and enable us all to ask tough questions as necessary.

“These disclosures will become part of our regulatory requirements, and if a provider fails to comply with these requirements or fails to provide justification this may amount to a breach of our regulatory conditions, and we will not hesitate to intervene.”

Universities will also have to justify pay packages and explain the relationship and difference between the vice-chancellor’s salary and that of other staff.

An annual report will be published by the OfS which will include full details of pay packages.

The University and College Union welcomed the OfS focus on pay, but said there needs to be “proper student and staff representation” on pay committees to ensure bosses are held to account.

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