Jan 29, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Under a new rule set to take effect later this year, universities in the UK will have to justify excessive senior level pay.

Universities that pay vice-chancellors over 8.5 times their institution's average salary will have to explain why.

The rule comes in the wake of the knowledge that several vice-chancellors in the UK earned significant amounts of money and experienced other financial perks—with no explanation or justification.  

The goal of the new measure? To offer a framework to ensure that senior staff earn “fair, appropriate, and justifiable” pay, and to provide transparency around higher level salaries.

The new rule will require universities to state how much more their vice-chancellor earns compared to the median pay of the workforce.

Critics say that the requirement, created by the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), will be difficult to enforce because compliance is voluntary.

In addition to regulating senior staff salaries, the rule also aims to ensure that severance payments are “reasonable and justifiable,” in addition to minimize extracurricular earnings from roles on external boards.

Another hope of the CUC rule is to tighten the procedures for determining salaries. IN the past, vice-chancellors sat on the committees that determined their salaries. The new rule prevents that from happening. 

In an article in The Guardian, CUC Chair Chris Sayers said, “We must enshrine the values of transparency, fairness and accountability at the heart of our procedures to ensure we maintain the trust required for the long-term success of our world-leading sector. The draft guidance, launched today, balances these values with our sector’s need to be able to continue to recruit and retain the best talent.”

Learn more about studying in the UK.


Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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