Thursday, November 2, 2017

Vice Chancellor Pay To Infinity

By Professor Doom

     It’s so saddening to watch higher education in the UK go the same route as it is here in the US. One of first big changes was restructuring of higher education into a royal (and royally paid) caste of “leaders” getting everything, while reducing scholars to peasants, barely scraping by.
     This process is finished in the US, but in the UK it’s still ongoing:

     It’s just so bizarre looking at the salaries the folks at the top get. The low pay of academics is somewhat justified because technically we only work 9 months of the year (yes, we do our research over the summer, I’m only talking technically here). But admin don’t have to do much  when classes are not in session, or at least don’t have to do anything important. They blow their summers traveling to Leadership Retreats and working on irrelevant Vision for Excellence plans.

While the high financial compensation of the upper echelons in academia might shock the general public, the low pay received by its junior members is the real scandal.

     Yes, the UK is starving out the academics, but asking for more money “for the starving academics” will fail. We have huge streams of money flowing into higher ed, the solution won’t be more money, because the issue isn’t lack of money. The issue is the predatory caste at the top, sucking it all up.

While Lord Adonis was quick to quip that increased tuition fees have neatly mirrored increases in vice chancellor’s salaries, I can assure his lordship that junior academics are certainly not beneficiaries of such tuition fee increases, and instead are the recipients of some £50,000 of student debt.

      The academic making these observations is doing so anonymously, because he’s afraid. Is he afraid of lack of money? No, he’s afraid that the leaders will punish him for complaining about the reality of higher ed. Yet again: it’s the leadership, not the low pay, that’s harming academia.

On announcing her departure from academia, she was met with derision from senior figures. She now loves her job, earns easily thrice my salary (before her bonus), never works at weekends and is truly done with work at the end of the day. I find myself asking: which of us is the real clever one?

      The end result of such an exploitative system is what I’ve seen before: the smart people are getting away from academia. It starts are the top, of course, the Ph.D. recipients, but I assure the gentle reader, as the plundering continues, it’ll affect all students, until, much like in the US, having a college degree will mean you have below average intelligence. Will it be one decade, or two? Hard to say, information travels so quickly now, perhaps their kids will learn about this scam more readily than in the US.

      The vice chancellors are scoring 6 figures salaries, and the first number isn’t even a “1.” Not content at astronomical pay, it keeps going up:

Dozens of university vice-chancellors getting pay rises over 20%, figures show

      It must be so nice to get consistent and generous raises like this. There are complaints of course, so soon the UK will learn to hide the transfer of wealth like we do here in the US, with huge, massive perks like “loans” of a million dollars or more which are then forgiven.

Of the 57 universities that had the same vice-chancellor in place throughout the five-year period, eight saw their pay go up by more than a third in cash terms, while three of those saw overall remuneration rise more than half in cash terms.

…the three universities where overall remuneration packages rose by more than half in cash terms were Huddersfield, where vice-chancellor Bob Cryan saw a 67% increase over five years to £364,564 in 2015/16; Bournemouth, where John Vinney saw a 53% rise to £305,000, and Roehampton where Paul O’Prey saw a 52% rise to £342,000…

--emphasis added, because the article glosses over the relevance of this detail.

     Granted, 50% pay raises are pretty common in the US as well (with, again, more like 100% once sweet perks are factored in). The article doesn’t notice it, but one of the many problems with our “leaders” in higher ed is how all they do is loot, and then move up in the system to another school. The study the article uses looked at 114 schools over a 5 year period…but only half of them could actually hang on to the same vice chancellor for that amount of time.

     Keep in mind, these guys have spent 20 years or more in higher ed. Their resumes consistently show them spending 2 years at one place, 3 years at another, 2 more years at another, perhaps 6 months at one place, and so on. In the “real world” a resume like that would be a huge flag that the employee was unreliable and a questionable candidate for even a minimum wage job. How do guys with such tainted resumes still manage quarter of a million (or more) dollar jobs so easily? I don’t know, and the article can’t answer it either. Let’s get back to the money for these useless jobs.

…on average vice-chancellor pay has gone up by 15% (7% in real terms) in five years; rank-and-file academic staff in contrast have lost out over the same period and have seen their salaries drop in real terms by 2.8%, and in the case of professors by 3.1%...

     Like every other county on the planet with a fiat money system, the UK is struggling hard with massive debts. But the guys at the top just keep raking it in. How do they justify this level of plundering?

      Let’s look at the guy with a 67% pay raise:

The university said there had been a “sustained high-level performance” and Cryan’s salary had increased to a level “commensurate with the significant transformation of the university and the associated peer recognition in terms of the many accolades received”.

     “Sustained high level performance”? Neat. Can the gentle reader tell me his school? Tell me of his academic accomplishments? Tell me anything at all about this guy? You can win national awards for scholarly work and get almost nothing for it. You can do almost nothing as an administrator and get salary enough to live like a king.

      “Peer recognition”? This stuff always makes me grit my teeth, because I’ve had a long close look at how it works: a bunch of Poo Bahs get together, and they form a bunch of organizations and committees. These committees then create awards, which they then award to each other. Then they use those awards to justify astronomical pay raises. It’s little different than when they send themselves on leadership retreats to luxury villas across the world, and then use that “leadership training” to justify even more pay.

     Then comes another way they justify their pay:

The vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, last week defended her £350,000 salary saying universities now operated in a “global marketplace” and were competing with high remuneration packages offered at institutions overseas. According to THE, the average pay for an equivalent university leader in the US was £398,00, and in Australia £546,000.

---incidentally, this shows how the UK is catching up to the corrupted US system: they’re only about 10% behind us. I’ve mentioned the Australian system before.

     No less foul than using self-generated awards and self-awarded vacations to justify pay raises, they also use the fact that “other guys are getting paid more” to give themselves more pay. How demented to you have to be to point at another system’s corruption to justify the corruption of your own system? They literally bootstrap each other up and up and up, crowing all the while about how important they are to education…even as no student, no faculty, can identify a single positive thing they’ve done for education.

      And this ultimately is my problem: these guys are only in it for the money, and every decision they make causes only more harm to our kids trapped in the system. If we could just move them off campus and increase their pay to infinity, maybe then we go back to focusing on education and research?