I have complained repeatedly that Australia’s universities have turned into ‘degree factories’ since student numbers were uncapped in 2009, whereby universities teach as many students as possible to accumulate Commonwealth government funding through HELP/HECS debts. At the same time, quality of teaching, and students’ ability to secure subsequent employment, remain distant priorities.
There is, however, one segment of society that has benefited greatly from the uncapping of university places, which led to a $2.8 billion taxpayer-funded bonanza for universities: vice chancellors. As reported in The Australian over the weekend, vice chancellors have seen their salaries balloon, with the average salary package now hitting an insane $890,000:
The nation’s 38 public university vice-chancellors were paid an average salary package of $890,000 last year, with 11 earning more than $1 million.
Michael Spence, from the University of Sydney, topped the list with a $1.4m salary package, equating to an increase of 56 per cent over five years.
Dr Spence was followed by Australian Catholic University head Greg Craven who, even with a $90,000 pay cut, took home $1.25m last year.
University of NSW head Ian Jacobs received a salary just shy of that, with $1.22m.
Swinburne University’s Linda Kristjansen, Edith Cowan University’s Steve Chapman and the University of Technology Sydney’s Attila Brungs were all handed bonuses in excess of $200,000.
As remuneration packages continue to climb to record levels, federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has urged restraint, saying salaries should reflect community expectations.
Senator Birmingham has previously pointed to excessive senior executive pay packets as part of his justification for $2.8 billion in funding cuts…
“Taxpayers foot the bill for around 58 per cent of university revenue so VCs should ask themselves whether their pay meets the expectations of students, staff and everyday Australians.”
Nice work if you can get it! Shame for the taxpayers and students that pick up the tab for this largesse.