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University pay to be brought under control after Bath Spa University chief made £800k in final year

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Minister Jo Johnson has said that new regulation will be put in place to bring excessive university pay under control.

The decision was announced after uncovered information showed Bath Spa University chief received over £800,000 in her final year.

University of Southampton was also criticised earlier this month after its Vice Chancellor Christopher Snowden received a £70,000 pay rise while threatening to cut 75 academic jobs. 

Johnson promised that the Office for Students will have "greater constraints in setting top salaries." The government approved regulators will set rules requiring clearer evidence of independence of the committees which decide the pay of Vice-Chancellors. 

Universities that pay their vice-chancellors over £150,000 could be fined if they fail to "justify" excessive salary to regulatory board. They will also need to explain the pay gap between their top earners and the rest of the staff, tuition fees and funding. The review will be published in the next few weeks according to the minister.

Speaking at the Universities UK (UUK) annual conference, Johnson remained sensitive to the ramifications of high pay packages and  rising tuition fees:

"Exceptional pay can only be justified by exceptional performance, which is why I will ask the new Office for Students to take action to ensure value for money and transparency for students and the taxpayer."

University and College Union (UCU) General Secretary Sally Hunt accused some universities of not publishing the full minutes of meetings where pay is chosen. 

"Soaring vice-chancellor pay has become a real embarrassment for our higher education sector," she said.

"Jo Johnson is the latest in a long line of ministers to have seen his previous calls for pay restraint ignored.

"Over two-thirds of vice-chancellors sit on their own remuneration committees and three-quarters of universities refuse to publish full minutes of the meetings where leadership pay is decided." 

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