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University censored breakdown of vice-chancellor’s pay

Warwick University has refused to offer a breakdown of vice-chancellor Nigel Thrift’s pay in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request issued by University College Union (UCU).

155 UK universities were requested to give details on the pay afforded to senior members of staff.

Warwick was among 14 universities who refused to answer questions in the survey relating to the pay received by the vice-chancellor. The questions left unanswered concerned flight and hotel costs, as well as personal expenses.

Nigel Thrift is currently paid £348,000 a year, over eight times more than the average member of staff; average pay for a vice-chancellor in the UK is now £260,000, according to UCU.

The report, entitled ‘Transparency at the top? Senior pay and perks in UK universities,’ found that Warwick was the eighth top spender on senior post-holders’ pay, with 158 staff members paid more than £100, 000.

No minutes are recorded for renumeration committee meetings of which Nigel Thrift is a member, and three of the six committee members present are paid staff.

Students have protested repeatedly over the vice-chancellor’s pay this year. A vote of “no confidence in Nigel Thrift” was passed by Warwick Students’ Union last term and a petition to rescind his 2015 knighthood currently has 647 signatures at the time of going to print.

Warwick refused to give expenses detail on Thrift’s pay under section 12 of the FOI act. The exemption holds that obtaining such information would exceed the reasonable time or cost limits of an FOI request. ‘Reasonable’ limits are considered to be 18 hours of one employee’s time, or £450.

UCU is pushing for full minutes of pay discussions and benefits to be in the public domain.

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