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Higher Education Remuneration Code Consultation

Nicola Dandridge, CEO, the Office for Students

Commenting on the Committee of University Chairs’ draft Remuneration Code for the higher education sector,

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of the Office for Students, said:

“I welcome the Committee of University Chairs’ draft Remuneration Code and its acknowledgement of the need for appropriate and justifiable pay in the higher education sector. Chris Sayers, Chair of the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), is correct to note that the Office for Students will need to intervene if English institutions do not exercise restraint.

“There is a need for change in the process around setting remuneration, and the proposed code makes significant proposals in this area. In particular, the references in the draft Code to the need to justify pay in a public and transparent way are important, as is the role of benchmarking. One needs only to look to other leadership positions in public life to see that senior pay in higher education is out of kilter with comparable roles. Appropriate benchmarking will help remuneration committees to set pay levels that reward performance in a fair and justifiable way.

“The Code is necessary, but in itself insufficient. We also need to see leadership from institutions in setting fair remuneration – people are rightly concerned by the level of pay, not just the process. Exceptional performance, clearly tied to exceptional outcomes, absolutely deserves exceptional pay. But, by definition, not every vice-chancellor can perform exceptionally. Where the level of pay cannot be justified, it should be reviewed.

“We very much hope that the sector will act in the spirit of this proposed CUC code and manage the issue of excessive pay itself. However, in the face of unjustified levels of pay, the Office for Students will not hesitate to intervene.”

A Universities UK spokesperson said:

“It is right to expect that the process for determining senior university staff pay is ​rigorous and transparent. This new code provides important guidance for university remuneration committees to ensure senior pay decisions are fair, accountable and justified whilst recognising that competitive pay is necessary to attract first rate leaders.”

The UK higher education sector is world-leading, with a global reputation for excellent teaching and research. Universities make a substantial impact to the economic success of our communities, regions and nations. Whilst each institution is an independent body, the public makes a significant contribution to the funding of the sector and as such, institutions must demonstrate that they are being managed in the best interests of students, the economy and society. This includes transparency in the decision making around staff remuneration.

The Committee of University Chairs (CUC) recognises that universities can do more to explain the remuneration decisions that they make and ensure that all appropriate governance arrangements are in place. With that in mind, they have produced this draft guidance on remuneration for senior post holders.

The CUC is holding a formal consultation on a new draft set of guidelines to determine how universities should approach senior pay. Below you will find a copy of the draft guidance, along with the consultation questions and a link to the submission form.

Contributions are welcome from anyone with an interest in the reputation of the UK higher education sector.

The deadline for submission of responses is Monday, 12 March 2018.

Draft Remuneration Code

Remuneration Code Consultation Questions (PDF)

Remuneration Code Consultation Questions (Word)


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