Oxford University puts its staff on furlough… but Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson gets to KEEP her £425k-a-year salary
- Oxford University are test-piloting a furloughing scheme on six departments
- Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson won’t volunteer for a pay cut
- The professor, who earns £452,000, has also frozen all recruitment for a year
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
Oxford University is to furlough hundreds of academics – but a cut to its vice-chancellor’s bumper pay package is off the table.
Professor Louise Richardson, who enjoys a £452,000 salary, yesterday told staff she is also introducing a year-long recruitment freeze but that the changes ‘may not suffice to address the scale of the challenge’.
Yet Professor Richardson, whose expenses claims have previously been criticised, looks set to avoid financial pain, despite the sector-wide crisis caused by coronavirus.
She has enraged academics by comparing her salary favourably to those of footballers and bankers, and is likely to rile them once again by not volunteering for a pay cut when counterparts at other universities are.
Oxford University, which employs about 15,000 people, is testing a furlough pilot scheme on six departments before rolling it out across the university if successful
At £452,000 Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson earns more than four of her counterparts at other universities but will not be taking a pay cut
Oxford, which employs about 15,000 people, is now testing a furlough pilot scheme on six departments before rolling it out across the university if successful. The university has more than £4billion in reserves, while its constituent colleges sit on even more.
Reacting to the news, University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘It is not clear whether an institution of the size and strength of Oxford does need to furlough staff, especially while protecting the salaries of its highest paid.’ Earlier this month, British universities said they needed a £2bn bailout to stave off ‘financial failure’ and in some cases total collapse.
In the bailout plea, vice-chancellors admitted they needed to rein in their spending, promising to ‘reduce costs’ and ‘increase efficiency’.
But many other top universities failed to respond when asked whether they would be squeezing savings from those on the biggest pay packets.
However, the best paid university chief in the country agreed to take a 20 per cent pay cut.
The president of Imperial College London, Professor Alice Gast, said the money saved from her £554,000 salary would ‘be used to help our students and staff in hardship’ due to the pandemic. ‘The immediate need, as we face threats to enrolments and the financial burden of the shutdown, is to look for ways to conserve cash in the coming year,’ she wrote in a letter.
Professor Gast also said Imperial’s provost, Professor Ian Walmsley, had agreed to a six-month pay cut of 20 per cent, while the board would take a 10 per cent reduction.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson, who enjoys a £452,000 salary, will not be volunteering for a pay cut when counterparts at other universities are. Yesterday she told staff she is also introducing a year-long recruitment freeze
And since the beginning of April, London Metropolitan University’s vice-chancellor Professor Lynn Dobbs has donated 10 per cent of her £234,140 salary to the university’s hardship fund. Other universities are approaching the crisis in different ways.
The University of Sheffield has said it will furlough fixed-term staff who are unable to work from home, but promised to top up 20 per cent of their salaries.
Universities asked Government for the massive funding boost to offset a collapse in international students due to coronavirus. Balance sheets are taking ‘extreme damage’, with the sector already facing losses of £790million this year, with a further £6.9billion of fee income at risk in a doomsday scenario, Universities UK said.
A spokesman for the organisation said: ‘Universities are taking a number of different steps to reduce costs, but there is no national approach towards senior pay.’
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