In September it was reported that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath now seems to be living a life of extreme luxury. She earns £451,000 per year and is the highest paid Vice-Chancellor in the country. She lives for free in a five-bedroom Georgian apartment, provided by the university, where the university pays for her housekeeper who does the washing and ironing.
Bath Uni shelled out £8,224 just on the VC’s laundry bill, and almost £19,000 in total for her living expenses.
For students at the University of Bath – racking up debt, living in cramped accommodation, and surviving on baked beans – this seems like some kind of sick joke.
Sicker still is that this story was reported on the same page of the Metro newspaper as a piece titled “6,700 breakfast clubs face closure”. Funding cuts mean that 200,000 pupils will lose their breakfasts as 75% of secondary school breakfast clubs will be cut, according to a poll of teachers.
Somehow, in our education system, there’s money to pay the four-figure laundry bill of one bureaucrat earning almost half a million a year, but there isn’t money to give underprivileged kids a proper breakfast.
This is where austerity and marketisation in education leads. If we leave education in the hands of people who support profit-making and capitalism this is what happens.
Get these management parasites out of universities and schools. Let students, staff and parents run education democratically for themselves.
Let’s get these Tory criminals out of government. Get Corbyn in and together we’ll take the fight to the rich and powerful who are literally taking food out of our mouths to fund their luxurious lifestyles.
Students: join the Marxist Student Federation now and help us in this fight.
Oxford Vice-Chancellor defends her six-figure salary while staff pay is cut
Laurie O'Connel, Cambridge Marxists
In a recent speech, the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University accused the “mendacious media” and “tawdry politicians” of trying to tarnish the reputation of the higher education sector by pointing out the hypocrisy of her pay rises. Of course, it was a disaster of a speech all round, with the professor also claiming that it ‘wasn’t her job’ to protect students from homophobic harassment – but this was a particular lowlight.
It makes you wonder if she even knows what the word ‘mendacious’ means. The allegations of hypocrisy and extravagance aren’t false at all: the pay packets of senior academics and bureaucrats have significantly increased over the last few years, whilst the university fees of students – paid for with a lifetime of debt – have also been on the rise in Oxford and across the country.
Other university staff have also seen their pay decrease. The college union UCU has noted that vice-chancellors earn as much as six times that of the average university lecturer. In the past three years, academics’ pay has risen by just 3.1%, yet vice chancellors have enjoyed increases on average of 11.1%, says the UCU.
According to The Guardian newspaper on Sept 12:
‘Among 17 university heads who retired between 2014 and 2016, the average final salary was £280,000. As all of them benefited from a final salary pension scheme, which is now closed to new entrants, that rise in salary fed through generously into their retirement benefits.’
Even Ms. Richardson admitted herself that: “My own salary is £350,000. That’s a very high salary compared to our academics who I think are, junior academics especially, very lowly paid.”
She then continues: “Compared to a footballer, it looks very different; compared to a banker, it looks very different.”
What is different, we should note, is that the pay of our university bosses comes directly from the public purse - the same source that now demands pay restraint from other rather more essential public sector workers such as nurses, care workers and teachers. In any case, overpaid footballers and greedy bankers are hardly the best examples to compare yourself to.
She claims the money for all these huge salaries is not being taken from increases in university fees and that the higher fees are only covering the cuts to government funding. But that’s ridiculous. That money for those pay increases has to come from somewhere - whether it comes from the taxpayer, the student or is chiselled out of the salaries of more junior university staff. There isn’t a magic money tree, professor!
When the Vice Chancellor talks about ‘tawdry politicians’, she’s clearly referring to left-wingers who’ve dared to suggest that this practice - hiting the finances of university staff and students to pay for higher salaries - is unfair. But what’s really tawdry is lining your own pockets at the expense of young people who are condemned to a life of debt and staff who deserve better than a pitifully low salary or a zero hours contract.
Professor Richardson attempts to justify the extravagance. “We operate in a global marketplace” she says. Maybe that’s the problem. In the marketplace, global or otherwise, the rich get richer and everybody else gets poorer.