Top Islington university job awarded 35 per cent salary increase

The head of an Islington university was awarded an annual pay packet of nearly �334,000 – while fees are set to rise to �9,000 in September.

Professor Paul Curran, vice-chancellor at City University, in Northampton Square, Finsbury, earned a total of �306,000 in the 11 months after taking on the role in August 2010 – the equivalent to a package of nearly �334,000 per anum.

The salary was up 35 per cent from the �239,000 paid the previous year to Professor Weinberg, the acting vice-chancellor between 2009 and 2010, and is more than �75,000 higher than that of his counterpart at the prestigious Cambridge University, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.

Prof Curran’s salary includes pension contributions and comes on top of a grace-and-favour pad, in Myddelton Square, Finsbury.

In addition, there were a total of 68 staff earning more than �100,000 last year, including seven employees who earned more than �170,000.

Meanwhile, the university’s accounts state that 81 staff left last year as part of an “organisation-wide voluntary severance exercise”, while the institution is operating at a �6m deficit.

A university spokeswoman stressed that the previous vice-chancellor, Professor Julius Weinberg, was in post on an interim basis for just over a year from July 2009, meaning his salary was not a fair comparison.

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She said a more appropriate comparison was that of the previous permanent vice-chancellor, Professor Malcolm Gillies, who earned �291,000.

Rob Scully, president of the Students’ Union, said the vice-chancellor’s salary “deserved scrutiny” but said it was too early to tell whether it represented “value for money”.

Mr Scully said: “He needs to be putting students first in everything that he’s doing, ensuring that the decisions taken are for the benefit of future students and not for the benefit of individuals and egos.

“He needs to be ensuring that the university is worth �9,000 a year and he needs to make sure the resources and structures are in place to support a top student experience – both educationally and non-educationally.”

Aiden Cover, a second-year Law student, 21, who lives at home in Wembley to save money, said: “The vice-chancellor’s salary is just symptomatic of the way society is going at the moment – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. How is it fair he gets this rise when staff are made redundant?”

At least 10 university vice-chancellors in England are thought to earn more than �300,000 – despite calls from Vince Cable in 2010 for universities to apply restraint to pay and bonuses.