It's time we bring principals' pay under control

Lothian MSP Alison Johnstone is today calling for fair pay in universities as part of the new legislation on Higher Education Governance.

MSPs are debating stage 3 of the controversial bill this afternoon. Johnstone will be calling for an amendment to the final bill, which would require university remuneration committees to consider reducing the ratio between the salary of the highest and lowest paid employees in the institution.

The amendment would also ensure that when setting wages, remuneration committees take into account pay settlements agreed through the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff.

Figures from last year show that a number of Scottish university principals accepted considerable pay rises in a climate where universities and other public sector bodies are struggling for funding.

Alison said:

"While university lecturers are being pushed into zero hour contracts and services staff are kept on poverty pay, Scotland's university management are reaping astronomical pay packets out of the publicly funded institutions they run. This is not right and it's not fair, and it's time we do something about it.

"University principals have the highest pay ratio in the entire public sector and this ratio in Scotland is even higher than the UK average. After years of pay restraint in the public sector, people find these vast levels of wage inequality harder and harder to stomach. You don’t have to be a mathematics graduate to understand that a 15% pay increase for someone on a salary of hundreds of thousands of pounds if worth a lot more than the same increase for someone on an average wage.

"Our universities are public institutions, and they should adhere to high standards in the way they treat their staff. It's time to re-evaluate principals' pay packets and make sure that wages are set in a transparent, democratic and fair way."