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The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .
Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.
Jenny Shaw , Student Experience Director at Unite Students, draws lessons on the higher education sector's efforts to improve the student experience from a week of HE news and views.
From this September, students will be able to opt to study an accelerated two year degree, as opposed to a traditional three year course. Professor Malcolm Todd, Provost (Academic) at the University of Derby, discusses why universities should consider the change in legislation and look to offer accelerated degrees.
Research England has selected 21 English universities to take part in a pilot Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), which will run between February and May 2019.
New guidance on vice chancellors’ pay, covering transparency, publication of pay differentials and membership of remuneration committees, is to be drawn up by the Committee of University Chairs (CUC).
The move follows universities minister Jo Johnson’s call for a “remuneration code” to be developed.
Vice chancellor pay levels have been the subject of intense media attention in recent months, with headlines conflating “fat cat” salaries with the level of tuition fee debt students now graduate with.
Mr Johnson told the Universities UK conference earlier this month, that there should be restraint on pay across the sector and “transparency and openness” about the levels being awarded.
The CUC, a membership organisation, will hold wide ranging discussions on the controversial issue at its plenary next month, which is expected to be attended by about 90 chairs.
John Rushforth, the executive secretary of the CUC, told HEi-know: "If the members decide at the plenary for the need for more guidance, we will put together a technical group, drawing on the expertise of registrars and HR directors, and produce a draft by Christmas that can be consulted on in the New Year.
"I can't predict what the content will be but we will look at transparency and how institutions might best put information on VCs pay into the public domain, and I think there could be some development work on that.”
Data will be presented at the plenary showing a significant range of pay multiples within the sector. The current sector average of the ratio of VCs’ pay to the average of their staff is just over six, but the range across institutions varies from two to 17.
"Pay multiples, particularly chief executive pay versus the median of all staff, is an interesting number to look at because you can start to compare within the sector and across other sectors," said Rushworth.
He also indicated that vice chancellors' membership of remuneration committees was likely to be one of the issues discussed.
Mr Johnson said in his UUK speech that universities should be able to justify any salaries that are above £150,000 – the amount paid to the Prime Minister.
Mr Rushforth said that the language around the debate was changing, moving from focussing on transparency to justification.
"It presents institutions with an opportunity to put senior pay in the context of just how complicated and challenging a business we are all in and how much value we add to society in general and students in particular,” he said.
"If you have a market justification, because for example international institutions have approached your VC, or you have evidence of exceptional performance compared to other institutions, and you think therefore a higher pay level is appropriate, you should be able to explain that to your own board and the public and if you can't you need to ask yourself why you are doing it."
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