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Lecturers dismiss Office for Students as "paper tiger" over "lightweight" report

UNIVERSITY lecturers branded an independent education regulator a “paper tiger” today after it published a “lightweight” report into vice-chancellor pay.

The University and College Union (UCU) criticised the new annual report from the Office for Students (OfS) for failing to clamp down on exorbitant pay of senior staff.

This is despite the OfS report noting that out of 133 university institutions in Britain, only four, just 3 per cent, pay their bosses less than £150,000 a year (approximately six times the median annual wage).

And of the 129 institutions which pay chancellors £150,000 or more, nearly half (47 per cent) paid out more than £300,000 in the past year to their bosses.

The OfS said that vice chancellors should be “prepared to answer tough questions” from workers, students and the public over salaries that some may see as exorbitant.

But the UCU said it should have gone further.

UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said: “With this lightweight report the OfS has shown itself to be a paper tiger incapable of stopping the pay and perks scandals that have plagued universities.

“The report simply regurgitates some of the analysis done by UCU and others in recent years, but pulls its punches on how to address the problem.
 
“The OfS fails to ask why some vice-chancellors are still picking up double digit pay rises and doesn’t even look at their expenses or other benefits in kind.

“This report sends a message that those who accept such largesse have nothing to fear from the new regulator.”

The union reminded OfS chief executive Nicola Dandridge that she had committed to force any vice-chancellor earning more than £150,000 to justify their wage and face real scrutiny.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “This is just another result of the Tories’ failed free-market experiment in higher education.

“Only yesterday the minister admitted that he will stand by and allow universities to go bust while today it is clear he has turned a blind eye to runaway pay packages for their top bosses.

“There is no sign that the government will take serious action to tackle the endemic inequality in our universities.

“Labour will take action by enforcing a 20:1 pay ratio and banning vice chancellors from sitting on their own remuneration committees.”

Ms Dandridge said: “It is not for the Office for Students to set a vice chancellor's pay.”

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