Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Universities need to pay their staff well

Well, actually the article in the Guardian Education supplement had a slightly different title: Universities Need to Pay their Senior Staff Well
Amazingly the article, justifying the levels of pay enjoyed by university Vice-Chancellors, was written by... a Vice Chancellor: Malcolm McVicar of the University of Central Lancashire.
The usual suspects are trotted out: VCs don't paid as much as the CEOs of large private companies, universities are competing in a world market for talent, American and Australian VCs get paid more, blablabla.
The problem with all of this is that I just don't imagine Malcolm McVicar and his peers getting offers from universities and businesses around the world, battling with the University of Central Lancashire and the like for their services. The market for skills argument probably does work for the Director of my school, given his CV of high-powered work experience, but he doesn't actually get paid significantly more than other VCs, funnily enough. It certainly doesn't work for Edward Acton, who before becoming VC at the University of East Anglia, was a Dean at the University of East Anglia, and before that Professor of History at the University of East Anglia.
I hope that one day, what is left of humanity will look back at this era and laugh heartily at the seriousness with which the rich and powerful justified their privileges with F grade labour economics.