A £250,000 pay off made to former University of Southampton Vice-Chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam on his departure was revealed today.
As the Telegraph reports, the £252,000 remuneration was paid as ‘compensation for the loss of office’ after the Health Sciences professor retired from the post a year earlier than planned. The payment is thought to be one of the largest ever given to a university chief.
A Times Higher Education analysis published last year revealed that the average cost of the salary and associated benefits of a Russell Group University Vice-Chancellor had increased by 5.9% during the 2015-16 academic year to £342,200.
Out of the 24 Russell Group universities, Southampton paid most to its outgoing and incoming Vice-Chancellors – a total cost of £697,000 including pension. The University of Warwick was the next highest (£448,000) followed by the University of Oxford (£442,000).
Dr Gill Rider, Chair of Council at Southampton, told the Telegraph that the opportunity to recruit a new Vice-Chancellor had arisen ‘more quickly’ than planned after Professor Nutbeam expressed his wish to retire at the end of contract in September 2016 or earlier if a suitable replacement was found. She explained that Professor Nutbeam left after the recruitment of Professor Sir Christopher Snowden and was paid until the end of his contract.
Sally Hunt, General Secretary of the University and Colleges Union (UCU), said that government calls for restraint in Vice-Chancellors’ pay packages had fallen on ‘deaf ears’. She called for more transparency in the agreement of ‘bumper’ pay deals, claiming there was currently ‘one rule for those at the top and one for everyone else’.
A report published by the UCU in August 2015 found that then Vice-Chancellor Professor Nutbeam had a salary 7.5 times higher than the average wage offered to university staff.