Time to look at whether such secrecy is justified

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It’s not hard to see the disparity. At a time when university and college staff nationally have had to resort to industrial action to force a two per cent pay deal, we learn that the vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth has received a whopping 20 per cent rise.

Professor Graham Galbraith’s salary has risen from £217,909 to £271,558. And he’s not alone. We report today how he is one of 18 vice-chancellors across the country whose pay has gone up by more than 10 per cent.

No doubt the university believes he is worth it. The argument is the same one used by those seeking to defend big salaries for bosses in the private sector – that such packages are vital to ensure the right calibre of staff are attracted to senior posts.

The university talks of Prof Galbraith’s salary reflecting a responsibility for managing a successful international institution with a turnover that has grown to more than £217m.

We hear all that. But it must be pretty hard to accept for those university staff who ended up striking to win a pay rise that was just 1/10th of Prof Galbraith’s in percentage terms. They must feel like they are worlds apart.

The other issue here is transparency. The University and College Union wants to know what went on at a meeting of the university’s remuneration committee when Prof Galbraith’s pay was set.

But the university says that must remain confidential because the minutes contain personal data.

The question is whether the university should have some sort of responsibility to explain its decision.

Maybe the time has come for the government to look at whether such secrecy is justified, or if students and employees of a university have a right to know how their vice-chancellor’s salary was decided.

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