Sixty-six members of staff at the University of Southampton earn over £100,000 a year, the latest statistics released by the University reveal.
This is an increase of 12 from last financial year and comes at a time when the University is committed to reducing the wage bill through a voluntary severance scheme affecting lower paid staff.
Over the last decade, the number of highly paid staff at the University has exploded. In 2000, as few as nine staff received six figure salaries, with none recieving more than £130,000.
By 2005 however, 39 were earning over £100,000, and this year sees a record high of 66. Sixteen staff now earn over £150,000, raising questions over how such extravagant salaries can be justified in the current financial climate.
Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam is predictably the highest earner, with a salary of £265,000 per year including bonuses. While this is fairly average compared to other Vice Chancellor’s across the country, it is still £120,000 more than David Cameron earns as Prime Minister.
The increase in highly paid staff, comes at a time when the University are actively seeking to reduce their wage bill in preperation for difficult financial times ahead. Despite the boom in highly paid staff, the overall expenditure on salaries increased by only 0.6% last financial year.
This was linked, among other things, to 50 staff leaving the University through a voluntary severance scheme. A further 200 staff, mostly administrative, will also leave under a second voluntary severance scheme introduced in August this year.
Speaking at the time these plans were announced, UNISON branch secretary Adrian Dolby commented that, “I am extremely disappointed that the university has yet again chosen to make cuts to its low paid support staff. This announcement sends a message to our members that their work is disposable, whereas the reality is that they work in some of the most vital roles in the university.”
The issue of how the University will cope with losing so many administrative staff is yet to be settled. One member of staff told the Wessex Scene that although no official changes have yet been made, it is inevitable that academic staff will have to pick up the slack, at least until new administrative structures are in place.
It is noted in the financial review that the administrative savings create “significant short term risks to the University’s ability to transact its usual business.” Such a large departure of staff clearly cannot fail to impact the delivery of services at the University. The strategy for reducing the staff wage bill contains no reference to the increasing number of highly paid staff.
The increased number of high earners at the University are consistent with other areas in the public sector. Labour were responsible for creating many new, often unnecessary, public sector management posts and in the last 10 years, the wages of the top 5% of public sector employees has increased by 51%. Today, 38,000 public sector workers earn over £100,000, and 9,000 of them earn more than the Prime Minister.
This lavish expenditure on top level salaries has led to no measureable improvement in service, and is almost certainly an under-discussed cause of the budget deficit. It is one, however, that the Coalition government has made no serious commitment to tackling.
This makes this an issue of national concern. Within the context of the University however, we can only hope that if more wage cuts and staff departures are deemed necessary, it is those at the top, as well as those at the bottom, who feel the pinch.