/ Universities unable to stay out of the news?

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Offwidth - on 07 Sep 2017
Rick Graham on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I thought the quote, from the Guardian you listed above, blew any credibility out of her argument.

"Speaking on Monday, Richardson said: “My own salary is £350,000. That’s a very high salary compared to our academics who I think are, junior academics especially, very lowly paid. Compared to a footballer, it looks very different; compared to a banker if looks very different."
paul__in_sheffield - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

A CEO salary of 350k isn't really eye watering, and I guess delivering Oxford to the top of the World rankings is a reasonable outcome for her corporation this year. This would be more worrying at a bottom 70 ex poly.
Her statements however, are a disgrace although I'm guessing Oxford's balance sheet means she won't be challenged internally.
Lion Bakes on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Another rich millionaire defending their income.
MG - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

> Her statements however, are a disgrace although I'm guessing Oxford's balance sheet means she won't be challenged internally.

How? A clumsy comparison with footballers aside, I thought they were spot on. She's right, doing down UK universities is damaging.
1
Malarkey on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

It would be pretty tough for a VC to knock Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, or Oxford off the top rankings. They are there due to history and the highly funded academic research staff.
paul__in_sheffield - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

> How? A clumsy comparison with footballers aside, I thought they were spot on. She's right, doing down UK universities is damaging.

Yeah, I kind of agree, but they're a bit gauche for a VC to come out with.
Tyler - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

We seemed to have reached a point where, for top positions, supply and demand has no bearing on salaries. Salaries for top execs in the public sector are being distorted by a few in the financial sector and Premier league footballers.
neilh - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Lets be serious here, Oxford is top of the pile globally.She should probably be earning double/treble that.

1
neilh - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

Yale President is about $1.3 million.... Harvard about $850,000

Her salary is probably not good enough!
1
Robert Durran - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Malarkey:

> It would be pretty tough for a VC to knock Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, or Oxford off the top rankings. They are there due to history and the highly funded academic research staff.

Yes, that would be like the Manager of Man. United getting relegated from the premiership. But they are not being paid to avoid that happening; they are being paid to actually win the thing.
1
cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

Why? University ranks does not depend primarily on the performance of the administration! VCs should earn a standard professorial salary, and not a bit more.

CB
4
MG - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to cb294:
> Why? University ranks does not depend primarily on the performance of the administration!

Debatable, Universities' success depend very much on the environment and ethos of the institution, and in which areas resources are focussed, These are all areas VCs have considerable control over. The wrong environment will mean staff leave, students are less satisfied and a downward trend starts. The opposite is also true.
Post edited at 16:52
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Tyler - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:
> Lets be serious here, Oxford is top of the pile globally.She should probably be earning double/treble that.

Why? What does she bring that a replacement wouldn't? What is the risk of her going elsewhere? What are her unique attributes that contribute to the success of the uni that no one else (or no one else who would be prepared to do a salary for less than treble her current salary) could bring?
Post edited at 17:18
In reply to cb294:

Very strange post!

Why should a VC get paid a standard professorial salary when a VC does not do a standard professorial job?

MG - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Tyler:
> Why? What does she bring that a replacement wouldn't?

Judgement, network, charisma, leadership ability, at a guess.

> What is the risk of her going elsewhere?

Well she's moved once.....

>What are her unique attributes that contribute to the success of the uni that no one else (or no one else who would be prepared to do a salary for less than treble her current salary) could bring?

As above. Anyone who's worked under good then bad leadership (or the other way round) knows there is a huge difference, and that good.leaders are rarer than bad.
Post edited at 17:24
cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Because the raison de etre of universities is research and teaching, not administration. No support role at any rank should be paid better than the corresponding functional role, else admin gets ideas above their station (QED by the example under discussion).

Do you seriously think that places like Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard or Yale are economically successful for any other reason but their overall excellent research and teaching?

CB
1
Offwidth - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:
I don't think so for Oxford, the power there is in the colleges, unlike most Universities. She is much more of a figurehead than most VCs are.

Part of the point the minister made is that all the VCs seem to get paid the same irrespective of their success (Gilles was at one point famously the second highest paid when London Met was close to imploding under his management) we also all charge the same fees. It must very very frustrating to see how their precious market experiment ended up. Like the VC of Sheffield says, this market and the immigration policy is doing real damage to the economy especially in terms of the pressures on and lack of protections for STEM. I actually don't mind high pay for senoir staff if they acheive, but I do mind when year after year their pay increases a good amount above inflation irrespective of performance, when staff pay is held below inflation due to austerity. Maybe they should get a cash limited bonus pool across the sector to be divided up on some external KPIs ... their love affair for such things might change if it impacted them a little more in the pocket.
Post edited at 17:35
cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

Sure, a good VC is valuable, but does that justify earning more than the people who actually generate the value (if you even insist on treating higher education as a business)? I would be extremely pissed off if the chancellor and rector of my university would earn multiples of my professorial salary. Of course they earn a bit more, fair enough as they also have additional duties, but the 400k in the case under discussion is taking the piss, especially in combination with her crocodile tears for the poor underpaid junior acdemics.

CB
1
cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

Remind me, what is it again that allows them to generate the income they use to justify these salaries at these institutions but not at Bog End Poly?

CB
wintertree - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to cb294:

> Do you seriously think that places like Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard or Yale are economically successful for any other reason but their overall excellent research and teaching?

I dare say having between 2x and 10x the annual HEFCE budget for the entire UK sector in their respective endowments doesn't hurt....
Post edited at 17:44
Tyler - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

> Judgement, network, charisma, leadership ability, at a guess.
Evidenced how, obviously she is a well respected academic so that makes the pool smaller but is it really a necessary job requirement?

> Well she's moved once.....
How did the uni she left fare after she had gone?

> >What are her unique attributes that contribute to the success of the uni that no one else (or no one else who would be prepared to do a salary for less than treble her current salary) could bring?

> As above. Anyone who's worked under good then bad leadership (or the other way round) knows there is a huge difference, and that good.leaders are rarer than bad.
Are they unique attributes? I've worked with and for both and it's rarely related to how much they are paid. There's probably a point where paying more brings diminishing returns as the people going for the jobs are more concerned with personal advancement than serving their employers. Good people often do well but only people who really manages their career gets to the top. I'm not saying she's not good, she inevitably will be, but unique? No one is irreplaceable and I can't see a *logical* reason why someone earning less would not be as capable. They can't work more hours than anyone else, there's no guarantee their strategic decisions will be correct (as evidenced by the number of highly paid CEOS who make terrible decisions) and pressure is a personal thing that anyone who cares about their job feels to a similar level regardless of their pay/status.
cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to wintertree:

Sure, good point, but that probably just reflects that they were also renowned institutions for research and teaching before VCs were even invented.

CB
In reply to cb294:

A VC is not an administrative role.

It is a leadership role.

In a lot of spheres leadership roles are paid more than the functioning role.
paul__in_sheffield - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Tyler:

> Why? What does she bring that a replacement wouldn't? What is the risk of her going elsewhere? What are her unique attributes that contribute to the success of the uni that no one else (or no one else who would be prepared to do a salary for less than treble her current salary) could bring?

I worked in the Exec of a VC who led our University up more than 50 places in the rankings and has since stabilised further steady progress. More than worth the salary, and like many in the job possessing unique leadership skills. There's quite a small group of people who can do this kind of thing well.
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cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I would still consider it an admin or support role in essence, as they do neither teach nor do research. That they consider it leadership just proves that they were allowed to get ideas above their station (at least when seen from my POV).

CB
2
Tyler - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:
I'm not denying that there are good leaders in organisations but there are huge differences in the amounts VCs are paid but they all face similar challenges. Is there a correlation between those salaries and achievement? The number of councils, hospital trusts etc that run into difficulties under highly paid CEO suggests that paying higher salaries doesn't necessarily lead to better results. Likewise there are probably equally able people who would be attracted to the job even with a lower salary.
Coel Hellier - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to MG:

> Anyone who's worked under good then bad leadership (or the other way round) knows there is a huge difference, and that good.leaders are rarer than bad.

Though generally the bad leaders get paid just as much as the good . . .
paul__in_sheffield - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to cb294:

> I would still consider it an admin or support role in essence, as they do neither teach nor do research. That they consider it leadership just proves that they were allowed to get ideas above their station (at least when seen from my POV).

> CB

Every VC I've worked with has run a research group with substantial income and outputs in parallel with their day job, most with proper international reputations as researchers. I'm jointly supervising PhDs and postdocs with my current VC on a big externally funded project. Admin and support services generally answer to the Bursar or equivalent Finance Director. The VC sets the policy and KPIs for the Exec and is directly answerable to the Court or equivalent. Really not a support role as CEO. It's a totally different JD and person spec from a Prof etc.
cb294 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:

Some but not all. I have no problem if a research group leader who does VC work on the side earns a considerable top up premium, but multiples of the professorial salary for professional VCs who do not also do research and teaching sounds like boardroom parasitism to me.

CB
1
MG - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to Coel Hellier:

That is a problem, yes.
neilh - on 08 Sep 2017
In reply to paul__in_sheffield:
Exactly.

Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial plus one or 2 others are not just European class they are world class. Top of the tree. Like a best of class in a business.

Worth every penny and more as far as I am concerned and also the same with the UK. It puts UK in a different league.

We should be lauding it, not knocking it.

Typical Brits to knock it.

And their annual income is what , just over £1 billion, and nearly half comes from research etc.

Stunning.

Should be paid equivalent to a CEO of a FTSE 100.
Post edited at 13:10
Tyler - on 08 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Should be paid equivalent to a CEO of a FTSE 100.

Why? What woul be the point? Are you suggesting they could have attracted someone better than the person who put them in the position or is it that you think it would encourage the current incumbent to work harder/do a better job?

In reply to cb294:

Well if you call any job at an uni that isn't teaching or research admin, there is not much anyone can say.

It's the same saying the deputy CEO of Volkswagen does an admin job as he doesn't make cars or do engineering research.


cb294 - on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

Precisely. He has essentially a support role only. VW cars used to be sold because of their solid engineering, but not anymore due to decisions made at a higher pay grade. The level of remuneration of most board members in listed companies is far divorced from the actual benefit to their stakeholders. Higher education should not follow that path.

CB
In reply to cb294:

So.... the CEO of VW is in a support role too as he isn't involved personally in manufacturing cars or R&D???
cb294 - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

I do not want to denigrate support roles. Of course there are essential support roles, and in any organization above a certain size you need hierarchies. However, even designing the commercial strategy for the company is at its heart a support role for the actual purpose of the company, in case of VW developing, producing, and then selling cars.

In case of commercial companies I don't even mind the persons providing the strategic guidance earning well, but quite obviously (*) the obscene level of boardroom pay seen in most listed companies today is not due to the added value the directors provide, but because most directors also sit in the boards of other companies and set the director's pay there. Essentially, the tail is wagging the dog.

However, this issue distracts from the discussion at hand, and that is VC pay at universities. IMO running universities as businesses, and the entire business speak and business thought that comes with this concept, is fundamentally wrong. The runaway increase in VC pay is just a sign that the business view has won, and boardroom greed has infected the higher education sector.
At the end, professors and VCs are civil servants (at least at state run universities), and should be paid accordingly. How can running a small section of the public service such as a state university then be better paid than a government minister with an arguably much bigger responsibility?

CB

(*) the proof that pay and performance are nor related lies in the fact that boardroom level failure is not normally punished financially

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neilh - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to cb294:

The issue with that view is that it is typically too narrow and parochial .

These people are sought after globally. There are only a small handful in any country who have the capabilities to run these type of global organisations( which does include the likes of Oxford, ICL and Cambridge).

By their very nature usually these people have worked around the globe and can pick up very well paid jobs elsewhere.That will include these top universities.

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jcw on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Offwidth:
I have not read all these replies but my own impression is that apart from a general management role the essential is the ability to have the contacts and savoir faire to fund raise. The prestige of the University you represent works in symbiosis with the experience of someone who has reached a comparatively high status in his/her non university career which justifies a relatively substantial,salary. Fund raising is the key function of a VC or in the case of Oxbridge head of college.
Post edited at 23:07
cb294 - on 12 Sep 2017
In reply to neilh:

Then they should go and work elsewhere. Academia should not promote greed.

CB
jrck2 - on 13 Sep 2017
In reply to cb294:

> At the end, professors and VCs are civil servants (at least at state run universities), and should be paid accordingly. How can running a small section of the public service such as a state university then be better paid than a government minister with an arguably much bigger responsibility?

The universities under discussion are not state run universities. They receive some state funding, and are subject to regulation by the state, but they are not state run, and the people working in them are not civil servants.


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