Stephen Toope defended his salary in two interviews published todayUniversity of Cambridge

Professor Stephen Toope, the new vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, has defended his £365,000 salary, and hit back against claims that he and his counterparts at other universities are receiving disproportionately high wages.

In an interview with The Times, published Thursday, Toope revealed the size of his annual pay packet and said that it was “reasonable, given the scope of the job”.

A University spokesperson has confirmed to Varsity that the salary figure Toope stated did not include pension: the total remuneration for his first year of tenure, salary and pension, will be £408,800.

The full figure falls within the salary region of £400,000–450,000 including pension which Varsity reported had been floated by the University’s Remuneration Committee as they recruited for the role.

It is an increase of over £50,000 on the most recently reported salary of his predecessor, Leszek Borysiewicz, who earned £353,000 in his last year in the post according to Times Higher Education (THE).

Toope suggested that his salary was proportional to the “relentless” intensity of his new role.

“I am essentially responsible for £1bn a year turnover, 11,000 employees, 19,000 students, and am in the lead to complete a £2bn fundraising campaign,” Toope said, “which means I am searching for all possible sources of income, while developing the international reputation of the University, working with business, government and civil society to develop partnerships, while being responsible for operations and the entity of the university.”

The annual pay given to vice-chancellors has drawn significant controversy in recent months, with Jo Johnson, the universities minister, claiming “there has been significant [salary] inflation in some institutions”. At a speech in September, Johnson unveiled a series of new measures “designed to curb spiralling vice-chancellor pay”.


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Referring to recent calls for vice-chancellors’ wages to be reduced, he said: “I think it is not a good idea, to be frank, because what it does is reaffirm the sense that the UK is not operating in the open market for global talent”.

Toope also criticised the government’s review of tuition fees, which he said could turn into a “true own goal” if it risked the global reputation of UK universities.

He continued, “One thing I can say having recently moved here, the HE system in the UK is the envy of world. The UK has attracted generation after generation of people from all parts of world as the universities are very strong, and Cambridge is at the pinnacle. I very much hope the government realises what a tremendous national asset this is for the UK. “

In an interview with THE, also published today, Toope spoke about his hopes for diversifying the student body, saying he “would not have wanted to come here unless I believed the university was truly committed to this”.

As part of the package, Toope will be given usage of a £4.5m residence near the Botanic Gardens, the Lodge, which is the most expensive residence provided to any vice-chancellor in the UK. In August, the Mail on Sunday reported that the building was undergoing a £700,000 refit, which the University said was intended to make it operate as an “events venue”.

He will also be reimbursed for travel and hotel expenses incurred while carrying out his duties.  Borysiewicz, the previous vice-chancellor, was revealed in 2016 to have a bill for flights that was four times the national average for the equivalent roles at universities UK-wide.

Figures acquired through a Freedom of Information request earlier this year showed that, in the last financial year, the highest total remuneration package paid by the University was over £440,000 – the identity of the recipient is not known, though it may have been Borysiewicz. The request found that 123 people in the University are paid over £140,000 a year, of whom 17 are women – up slightly from figures released by Varsity in February 2016 which were branded a “wake up call” by Lucy Cavendish president Jackie Ashley.


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In 2012/13, his final year as president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, Toope earned the equivalent of nearly £325,000. However, his salary at Cambridge lags behind that of his other international counterparts. In 2014, the last year for which figures are available, an Ivy League president could expect to earn over £900,000 per annum, with University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann taking home £1.9m in that year. In Australia’s ‘Group of Eight’ prestigious universities, average vice-chancellor salaries were £536,320 for 2015. By comparison, Russell Group universities paid vice-chancellors an average of £342,200 per year in 2015-16

Update 13/10/17: This article was updated after a University spokesperson confirmed Toope’s full remuneration, including pension