Where Has Our Money Gone, Don?


It came to our attention yesterday that our Vice Chancellor Don Nutbeam has accepted a £17,000 (5.7%) pay rise and now earns a whopping £294,000 per year. This is on top of £39,000 per year that the university pays into his pension pot – without him having to contribute a penny . Other benefits including a gated house (guarded by university security guards) and a £900 Christmas tree in his garden. Merry Christmas!

This pay rise comes at a time where he recently described a 1% pay (a real term pay cut and well below increases in costs of living) increase for university staff as “fair and generous”. Now we are in a situation where 140 members of university staff – predominately catering and cleaning staff – are on poverty pay (below living wage) and, according to the UNITE and UNISON unions, some are reliant on food banks. These are the people that keep the university open and functioning on a day-to-day basis, how many of you even know what Don looks like?

Tired of injustice

We don’t know about you but we think this stinks.

At a time when students are struggling to buy course text books, when SUSU is campaigning against student poverty in light of the rise in living costs and trebling of fees, this massive increase in pay seems somewhat outrageous. Undergraduate students in their first and second year of undergraduate study are paying £27,000 (not including course text books, compulsory course trips and living costs etc.). Surely by investing this amount in our education we  would expect our staff to be paid fairly. Moreover, we would expect the quality of our education to be improving – unfortunately, as the graph below shows, the university’s world rankings have declined year on year since Don was hired in 2009 – despite it being his stated aim to get Southampton into the top 50.


A University spokesperson on Thursday defended Don’s pay increase to the Daily Echo: “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 competitively remunerated.” Excuse us but is Don saying that he works 22 times harder than the lowest paid full-time member of staff? And deserves a pay rise six times higher than the lecturers and researchers who’s research outputs (e.g. journal articles/books/reports etc) and teaching are the bread and butter of the University? Is he saying that it is not worth ensuring that the cleaners, caterers and security staff who ensure that he works in a nice environment don’t deserve to have their pay rise with inflation? Come on. It seems he is being rewarded for our declining position in the league tables and squeezing the wages of those people who are the back bone of this university.

A group of students have decided that enough is enough. We don’t want to see our lecturers, the people that clean the lecture halls, keep us safe on campus and staff our food outlets being placed under pressure and not being remunerated for it. The University have cleverly announced Don’s pay increase the day before the end of term and as students are heading home for Christmas in the hope that students will forget about it. Our new year’s resolution, however, will be to stand up to what we see as gross injustice.

If you want to learn more or get involved then please join this group on Facebook and find out about our first meeting and what you can do to help. Our first aim is to get Don to donate his pay increase to the 140 members of staff he – as of yet – doesn’t think deserve a living wage. This is not an outrageous demand considering  the Vice Chancellor of QMUL donated his £50,000 pay rise to the student hardship fund.  We wants students and staff to stand together and ask ‘where’s our money gone, Don?’


Discussion12 Comments

  1. avatar

    “Other benefits including a gated house (guarded by university security guards) and a £900 Christmas tree in his garden.”

    Do you have any proof that this is true? Or is this simply just classic leftists propaganda to make something seem worse than it is.

    And that graph looks awfully similar to one the tab published a few weeks back…


    Can’t speak for the tree, but I can assure you the house is part of the package for that role. I’ve worked at the Uni for years and drive past the place daily, although I have never seen security staff myself. The house is massive.

    This pay rise is appalling. I’m sure he is under a lot of stress and pressure, but I personally haven’t seen him do anything positive.

    Concerned student

    So the Vice-Chancellor:
    – Now earns twice the salary of the PM
    – Has accepted a pay rise of £17,000 whilst telling cleaners and lecturers they must accept a pay cut
    – Has taken the Uni down in world rankings
    – Refuses to act on gender equal pay and living wages until staff agree cuts
    – Wants to raise tuition fees to £16,000

    And you’re worried about a graph and a tree?


    Agreeing with concerned student above:

    I do not think that being concerned about the welfare of staff is in any way a ‘leftist’ view, it’s basic humanity.

    The graph was originally given with its source, so I’m not sure why that has disappeared.

    Again, worrying about the tree and the graph and not about the rest, including the dismal pay of some of the staff, the pressure on lecturers, the rocketing fees (whilst not providing anything in return) is a bit narrow sighted. It would be one thing if the Uni was in financial trouble and Don was also tightening his belt for the good of the institution he is supposed to be working for, but as well as influencing the pay cut of his own staff he is also one of those who gave himself a pay rise higher than the yearly wage of many of his staff. You don’t have to be ‘leftist’ to believe that is unjust


    The Wessex Scene is particularly bad at crediting images it uses on its stories. I recently brought up the issue of them hotlinking images on stories with the editor… My email didn’t get a response but photos then began to be hosted by the Scene but still without accreditation.
    This is unprofessional at best and a breach of copyright at worst!


    Permission was gained from the author who originally used this graph so your comment so this comment is incorrect at best and ill-researched at worst


    Not normally a fan of trolling but I have to say that reply clearly wasn’t proof read. Also, I never mentioned the graph, but was speaking about the Scene’s website in general. Obviously this story stands as an exception.
    My original comment that there are copyrighted images on the scene without permission or accreditation still stands.

    Just Gonna Say

    The increase in student fees is reflective of the decrease in government funding the university gets. Any ‘profit’ they get off the £9000/year is likely given back to you in the £300 entitlement cards. The university has always said it’s no richer as a result of the increased fees, with all departments under more stress, feeling they need to be providing more, as a result of the higher cost to you.

    Having said that, I do still think the price we pay for Don Nutbeam should be questioned, definitely. If the university decides it has enough money to give Don the massive package he loves every year (you’ll excuse the phrasing), then other staff should be rewarded proportionately too.

    I just thought it was worth saying it’s not reasonable to expect standards to rise in line with the fees – that’s the government being greedy, and not the university.


    Indeed the government has the initial blame with the outrageous fees but the high fees are even more unjustified by the fact that there is no extra support (entitlement card aside) outside the classes which leaves many students, especially in humanities, questioning the value they get for money, say in comparison to the sciences. That being said, naturally humanities is based in more independent learning but if the lecturers did not have so much pressure on them to undertake admin work which is not their responsibility, they they would have more time to dedicate to extra support.
    Anjelica does have more details on the billion or so extra that UK universities are sitting on so it may be worth looking into exactly what the Uni uses its money on as well
    But of course, the most important point is of course the pay rise at a time when everybody else has to squeeze their budgets

    Concerned student

    Agree with you both that it’s the Government to blame ultimately. But it’s important to recognise that Don and other VCs bear some blame. They ought to have been lobbying against the Government cutting funding and replacing it with fees. Instead they welcomed it. And now Don and others want to raise fees again (http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/russell-group-backs-oxford-v-c-on-fee-cap/2008054.article)

  2. avatar

    I can’t believe SUSU hasn’t even commented on this. What does David Gilani think about the VCs performance and salary? Or is SUSU so deep in the university’s pocket that they don’t dare criticise them?

  3. avatar
    Anjelica Finnegan & Christine Sawyer

    Edit: Our updates aims include, as well as providing all staff with a fair living wage, for Don to donate his pay rise to the student hardship fund.

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