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University staff costs uncovered

Written by Editor's Picks, News

A report by the Taxpayers’ Alliance has revealed that, of 120 universities who responded to its Freedom of Information requests, Newcastle came seventh in terms of staff being remunerated over £100,000 per year.

The data shows that between the 2016-17 and 2018-19 academic years, Newcastle had on average 159 members of staff being remunerated over £100,000 per year, and 22 earning over £150,000.

Newcastle University was shown to be the fourth highest of all the universities who responded in term of the greatest year-on-year increase in staff earning over £150,000; Newcastle saw on average six more members of staff receiving the higher levels of remuneration.

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “Newcastle University is one of the region’s largest employers with 6276 staff and has responsibility for over 28,000 students and an annual budget of £511m. Overall we contribute £1.1bn to the local economy.

“Our University is home to a world-leading medical school and the majority of staff members who are paid more than £100k are those who are also clinical academic staff and who are paid in line with NHS rates.

“The University’s rates of pay are in line with the higher education sector nationally.”

At the University of Edinburgh, 118 members of staff were shown to receive over £150,000 per year in total remuneration
While Newcastle’s figure may appear high, the University of Edinburgh was actually revealed to have the greatest number of high earners, with 335 staff received over £100,000 in total remuneration, of which 118 receive over £150,000. This was very closely followed by the University of Manchester.

The report showed that, across the 120 universities who submitted data, on average 3,615 staff earned over £100,000 each year in total remuneration, of which 762 staff were remunerated over £150,000. Russell Group universities were shown to have more highly paid staff than other universities; across the three academic years between 2016 and 2018, Russell Group universities on average remunerated 185 members of staff over £100,000, and 63 over £150,000, compared to 27 and then five staff respectively at unaffiliated universities.

Interestingly, the findings showed that while universities with staff earning over £100,000 scored higher in student satisfaction surveys, there was no correlation between student satisfaction and the number of staff earning over £150,000 a year. Similarly the Taxpayers’ Alliance reported that there is also no distinct link between the number of highly paid staff members and post-graduation employment rates for students, though there is a clear correlation between having highly paid staff and the average graduate earnings.

The University was shown to spend a slightly larger proportion of its income on staff costs than the Russell Group average
The University’s 2017-18 Integrated Annual Report showed that Newcastle University spent approximately 55% of its income on staff costs at a total of £281m, of which £212.7m was for salaries. This was a 6% increase in staff costs on the previous year. Some of these staffing costs, however, come from the University’s campuses in London, Singapore and Malaysia. In both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, the University was shown to spend a slightly larger proportion of its income on staff costs than the Russell Group average.

In 2018, the University employed on average 5659 full-time equivalent employees, of which 1627 were academic, 2983 support and 1049 research staff. Despite staff numbers increasing over past years, the report shows that University has a slightly higher student-staff ratio than the Russell Group median, with an average of 13.81 students per staff member at Newcastle in the 2016-17 academic year, compared to approximately 13.5 as the Russell Group median.

The report also revealed 82 staff earning over £100,000 per year in the 2017-18 academic year, compared to 75 the year before. Of these 82, 32 were clinical staff. It furthermore reported that the Vice-Chancellor and President’s basic salary of £340,100 in 2017-18 is 9.7 times the median basic salary of staff, and the total remuneration is 9.8 times the median of staff. The Vice-Chancellor and President’s remuneration is reviewed annually by the University’s Remuneration Committee.

The University has a 20.0% mean gender pay gap
Newcastle University Feminist Society is hosting a talk and discussion surrounding the gender pay gap, its intersections and its consequences on Wednesday 23 October at 5:30pm in the Warkworth Room. The event will speak a talk by Dr Sue Abbott, Chair of the Business School Equality/Diversity Committee, whose current area of interest relates to ‘lad culture’. The Society has organised this following the findings in the University’s 2018 Gender Pay Gap Report, which indicated that the University has a 20.0% mean gender pay gap, though it is much smaller for staff in non-clinical roles.

This is, however, much lower than the gap at many other UK higher education institutions, though Newcastle’s gap corresponds to the national average at universities which is 20.0%. The BBC reported in March that Harper Adams University in Shropshire has the largest gender pay gap at 33.7%, meaning that for every £10 the average male employee at the University earns, the average female employee takes home £6.63. Regarding Russell Group universities, Durham was shown to have to have the largest gap of 27.9%.

Responding to the BBC’s findings, the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) argued that there had been a “marked narrowing of the gap over the past decade”.

Last modified: 22nd October 2019

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