In Cambridge's remuneration report, vice-chancellor Stephen Toope and his predecessor were the only Cambridge staff members whose remuneration was identified and detailedMathias Gjesdal-Hammer

Eight members of the University Council have called on the University of Cambridge to improve transparency of salaries and benefits paid to senior University officials, in a note of dissent published yesterday.

The note dissented from the University’s first annual publication of its remuneration report, which followed new guidelines by the national representative body for chairs of UK universities, the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) and the Office for Students, a new regulatory body for higher education (OfS).

It was signed by the three student representatives of Council – CUSU President Evie Aspinall, GU President Sofia Ropek-Hewson, and University Councillor Marcel Llavero Pasquina – as well as Professors Nick Gay and Ross Anderson, Dr Nicholas Holmes, Dr Stephen Cowley, and Dr Ruth Charles.

In full: Council members’ note of dissent

We welcome aspects of this Report such as the publication of the Remuneration Committee’s Terms of Reference. However, the new Terms of Reference are not aligned with the third principle of the Higher Education Senior Staff Remuneration Code of the Committee of University Chairs, namely ‘transparency and accountability’ (see paragraph 2 of the Report).

Paragraph 6.3 of the new Terms of Reference stipulates that ‘no individual’s salary figures shall be stated other than when reporting to the Council the salary figures of the Vice-Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor-Elect’. We believe that the Council has missed an important opportunity to improve transparency and accountability in relation to the total remuneration of the senior post-holders named in the Report. The changes to the Remuneration Committee should increase transparency rather than reducing it, and the practice used in the case of the Vice-Chancellor’s remuneration should be followed for other senior post-holders. At the very least, the remuneration of senior post-holders should continue to be disclosed to the Council (since delegation does not relieve Council of the responsibility for the decisions).

Indeed, on the basis that charities should be more transparent and accountable than quoted companies (which are required to publish detailed information about directors’ remuneration), consideration should be given to the publication of detailed information about senior post-holders’ remuneration.

Signed by: Professor Ross Anderson, Professor Nick Gay, Dr Ruth Charles, Dr Nicholas Holmes, Dr Stephen Cowley, Evie Aspinall, Marcel Llavero Pasquina, and Sofia Ropek Hewson

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Council members argued that the practice of detailing the pay and compensation package of Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope in the annual report “should be followed for other senior post-holders”. The signatories wrote, “the Council has missed an important opportunity to improve transparency and accountability”, and have asked that “at the very least”, such details “should continue to be disclosed to the Council”.

The University’s annual remuneration report outlines remuneration of current Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope and his predecessor Leszek Borysiewicz from July 2017 to July 2018 – the sole members of the University whose salary and salary compensation information are identified and explained in the report.

The report breaks down Toope’s £428,000 remuneration package since his installation as vice-chancellor last October, including healthcare, accommodation, and personal travel costs. It also provides information on pay ratios of the vice-chancellor pay compared to median pay, of 11.3 times the pay of median staff, and 6.0 times the pay of academic and clinical staff.

In the note of dissent, the signatories referenced the principle of “transparency and accountability” in the CUC’s ‘Higher Education Senior Staff Remuneration Code’, which says that institutions “must publish a readily accessible annual statement” containing an institution’s policy for employees within the remit of the Remuneration Committee.

Explained: What is Cambridge’s Remuneration Committee?

The Remuneration Committee is an advisory body established in 2007 by Cambridge’s University Council which was tasked with providing “independent scrutiny to the operation of a fair, consistent, transparent, and effective system of remuneration for senior staff”.

It mainly oversees remuneration matters relating to the vice-chancellor and pro-vice-chancellors, and senior staff on the Grade 12 of the University’s pay scale, on which the highest-paid staff fall.

The terms of reference of the Remuneration Committee published last month confirmed the policy outlined in the interim terms, that “in reporting the Committee’s business no individual’s salary figures shall be stated other than, when reporting to the Council, the salary figures of the Vice-Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor-Elect.”

In the report today, it noted that “the emphasis of the Committee’s work is to set the policy for senior reward so that it supports the objectives of the institution, facilitates recruitment and retention, ensures fairness, equity, and transparency; and to decide on matters of senior pay, making recommendations to the Council as appropriate”

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The CUC code does not explicitly require that details of all senior officials’ pay packages be publicly disclosed, though says that for senior staff, there must be an “institutional level justification for remuneration”, while the pay of the vice-chancellor must be separately justified.

In 2018, 314 University of Cambridge employees received a basic salary of more than £100,000 and twelve earned a basic salary exceeding £200,000 according to the Council report, however the positions of the individuals, and further information on additional remuneration, are not listed.

In addition to basic pay, the University has a structure of additional means of compensation to its staff, including ‘market pay awards’ – designed to retain employees with highly marketable skills.

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