Warwick University is second only to Southampton in the pay afforded to Russell Group vice-chancellors, despite Warwick’s incumbent Stuart Croft taking a substantial pay-cut on his predecessor Nigel Thrift.
The new figures combine pensions and payoffs for outgoing vice-chancellors with salaries of those currently in position.
In total, Southampton University paid £697,000 in the year 2015-16. Warwick came second with a payment of £448,000, followed by Oxford University at £442,000. Seven Russell Group universities paid their leaders more than £400,000 last year.
A quarter of a million pounds was given to the former vice-chancellor of Southampton, Don Nutbeam, who is considered to have received the biggest hand out ever given to a university chief.
In July 2014 Professor Nutbeam announced that he desired to retire at the end of his contract in September 2016, or before if a suitable replacement was found. Once it became possible for him to leave, the university paid him £252,000 as compensation after retiring one year earlier than planned.
According to analysis by Times Higher Education, the average cost of paying the salary and benefits of a Russell Group vice-chancellor increased by 5.9 per cent to £342,200 in 2015-16.
This increase comes alongside university decisions to increase tuition fees from £9,000 to £9,250 for the following academic year, and calls from ministers to issue restraint when deciding upon pay packages for the top positions.
A spokesman for Warwick University said: “The vice-chancellor’s salary is decided by a remuneration committee whose voting members are all lay/independent members and the lay treasurer of the University. The vice-chancellor does not attend those meetings and plays no part in those deliberations.”
In 2014 Warwick ex-vice-chancellor Nigel Thrift became subject to controversy when his salary increased three times over his nine years of employment at the University. He also received a bonus of £92,000 when he left at the end of January last year.
His replacement Stuart Croft, who took office in February 2016, took a pay cut of £68,000.
Julia Pearson, a Politics student who serves on the Warwick Labour Executive commented “It’s very sad to see our University’s focus is on increasing pay for those at the ‘top’, rather than giving it to those who need it the most, or improving severely underfunded facilities on campus such as our counselling service.”