Sir Leszek Borysiewicz spent over £30,000 on flights in 2015/16University of Cambridge

Cambridge’s Vice Chancellor (VC) recorded the second highest expenditure on flights of any Head of Higher Education Institution (HEI), spending almost four times the average amount, while also recording the fifth highest hotel expenditure, according to figures in a report for the University and College Union (UCU) report released on Wednesday.

The report, entitled “Transparency at the top? The third report of senior pay and perks in UK universities” also gave information about the VC’s total pay package and the remuneration of higher paid staff.

It collates the information gained by 106 Freedom of Information (FoI) requests submitted by UCU in October 2016. The first and second reports came from FoI requests submitted in autumn 2015 and 2014.

In a description of the report UCU explains their motivation for the FoIs: “All requests were designed to shine a light on the arbitrary nature of senior pay and perks in universities, and support the union’s call for reform.”

The report is “part of the union’s ongoing campaign for greater transparency in higher education, including the rationale behind senior pay rises.”

It was revealed that Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz spent £30,872 on flights in 2015/16, a large increase on the average figure of £7,762. Borysiewicz’s figure was only exceeded by that of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick, who spent £46,348.

The University did not provide data for a UCU request for information on the classes of flights that Borysiewicz had taken.

A University spokesperson gave an explanation of his travel costs: “As the head of one of the world’s leading institutions, the Vice-Chancellor travels widely to establish and build relationships with organisations all over the world.”

Borysiewicz’s hotel expenditure was also the fifth highest at £9,219, just over three times the average spending of £2,982. However, he did not feature in the list of top 20 spenders on total expenses.

The report also found that the University of Cambridge had the highest number of employees earning over £300,001 in 2015/16 at 8 employees. The University of Oxford had seven such employees.

Cambridge also recorded the third-highest number of employees earning over £100,000 at 409, topped only by Oxford, which had 451, and University College London with 444. However, in total only 21 institutions employed more than exceeded 100 members of staff earning over £100,000 a year.

With a salary of £345,000, Borysiewicz had the 20th highest total pay package (including salary, benefits, employer pension contributions and bonuses), seeing a 9 per cent increase in total pay package between 2014/15 to 2015/16. The highest salary was earnt by the VC of the University of Southampton, who received £697,000 in 2015/16. In 2015/16, the average total remuneration package (including salary, benefits, employer pension contributions and bonuses) for vice-chancellors was £277,834, £72,166 less than Borysiewicz’s pay.

A Cambridge University spokesperson explained Borysiewicz’s salary : “The Vice-Chancellor’s salary is determined by careful analysis of published data about Vice-Chancellors’ and Presidents’ pay in the UK and internationally. This year, the Vice-Chancellor has donated the value of his annual salary increase to the student hardship fund, and has retained only the standard 1 per cent increase received by all staff.”

In January, Times Higher Education published similar statistics on the VC’s pay and the average Russell Group VC salary increase (3.7 per cent).

Varsity revealed last April that Borysiewicz’s successor, Canadian Stephen Toope, is in line for a pay rise of up to 38 per cent which could see him earn a salary in the region of “£400-450k”.

Reacting to the findings of the report, UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, said: “Those at the very top in our universities need to rein in the largesse that embarrasses the sector and the government needs to enforce proper scrutiny of their pay and perks.”

“Telling staff that there is no money for pay rises while signing off golden goodbyes worth a quarter of a million pounds or handing out pay rises in excess of 10 per cent to 23 university heads is quite outrageous.”

She called for government intervention to regulate vice-chancellors’ spending: “Unless the government finally steps in we believe many vice-chancellors will continue to spend public money and students’ fees with impunity. The huge disparities in the levels of pay and pay rises at the top expose the arbitrary nature of senior pay and perks in our universities.”

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