Vice-Chancellor Pay Rise Angers Unions


The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, Don Nutbeam, has accepted a pay rise of £17,000, angering the campus Unions.

Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam
Vice-Chancellor Don Nutbeam

The news comes after the three main campus Unions, the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), Unite and Unison walked out on strike earlier in December and back in October. They were striking over a one percent pay rise, which was implemented this month, which they felt was inadequate given the cited 13% cut experienced in the past four years.

The scale of the rise is not unprecedented in the country. At the same time as Professor Nutbeam’s pay rise was announced, the Vice-Chancellor of the neighboring University of Winchester also saw her pay rise by 12.6% to £222,700, an increase that the Hampshire Chronicle noted was six times the rate of inflation.

The University has defended the Vice-Chancellor’s increase saying:

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with over 23,000 students and 5,000 members of staff. It is appropriate that the vice-chancellor of such a large, complex and international institution should be comparatively remunerated.”

The Unions however have called on Professor Nutbeam to reject the pay rise. Eric Silverman of the UCU commented that:

It is quite outrageous for the vice-chancellor to tell staff to accept a pay rise of 1%, because there’s no money left, when he’s set to pocket a rise six times that. Professor Nutbeam needs to understand that there is not one rule for him and another for everyone else. We call on him to reject this pay rise and to push for a fair pay deal for hard-working university staff. This large increase seems particularly confrontational, given the on-going strike action.

Equally, Anna Lyon of Unison said:

No-one expected this; it’s a real kick in the teeth for hard-working staff, some of whom are relying on food banks this winter.

The rise brings Professor Nutbeam’s salary to £294,000 in addition to his pension of around £37,000. This is higher than the £247,482 calculated by the Times Higher Education supplement as the average pay for Higher Education leaders. However it is significantly lower than the salaries of some other Russell Group Vice-Chancellors with Brimingham’s Vice-Chancellor earning the highest with a total package worth £406,000. Unions are however comparing his salary to those of other well known leaders such as David Cameron who receives £142,500.

You can read the UCU’s statement released on 20 December here.


History student and passionate writer about everything connected to Southampton and its rich tapestry of stories and history. Due to an unfortunate case of graduation, this writer is no longer active.

Discussion5 Comments

  1. avatar

    Southampton’s international ranking has fallen every single year Don has been in charge, how exactly can a pay-rise this huge be justified?

    Miss Teen South Carolina


  2. avatar

    From my point of view, I don’t really mind how much he gets paid – I’m sure his job is very stressful etc. and so warrants being paid a massive amount of money. The problem I have with it is the 140 staff who aren’t paid the living wage.

    Concerned student

    But part of the reason low paid workers don’t get paid enough is because those at the top are living in a totally different world wage wise. So it does matter what he gets paid.

    And as for stress at work – he gets paid twice as much as the Prime Minister!


    He is paid a ridiculous amount of money, but its unlikely that we will be able to change that. He was paid a huge amount of money before the increase.

    And you can’t really compare him to the prime minister. Its not the same job. He should do what other universities have done, and given their raise to the people who need it.

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