When Provost Professor Michael Arthur crossed the Watford gap from his tenure at Leeds, The Cheese Grater reported that his hotel bills had cost the Yorkshire university an average of £7000 a year. According to a recent report by the University and College Union, Arthur hasn’t stopped hitting the minibars now he’s at UCL. Last year the Provost spent on average £275.70 per night on his hotel stays, racking up a total spend of £7167.80.

UCU’s pay and perks report also notes the Provost cost College almost £22k jetting between UCL’s new world outposts, with over two thirds of his flights in either Business or First Class, ensuring he doesn’t have to come into contact with the proles unless strictly necessary.

The Provost’s overall salary of nearly £360k hasn’t increased over that of previous incumbent Malcolm Grant, although UCL now has more members of staff earning over £100k than any other university, at 444. While not all of these high salaries are reserved for management positions, it is a strikingly high number when academic staff on lower pay grades have seen their pay fall in real terms.

Sean Wallis, Vice President of UCL’s UCU branch, is critical of the perks enjoyed by top earners – especially in contrast to staff pay. He told The Cheese Grater, “Staff salaries, for those lesser mortals without the ability to influence remuneration committees, have fallen behind inflation since 2008, to the extent that in real terms, we are now paid around 15% less… At no point since the second world war have salaries fallen like this.”

College’s Remuneration and Strategy Committee, the body responsible for approving the salaries and expenses of the highest earners, remains largely unaccountable. Currently the minutes of its meetings are confidential, and there are no students or members of the academic staff on the committee, two things explicitly called for in the UCU report.

Ned Davies and Bo Franklin
Featured image: Elaine Perks 2013

This article appeared in CG Issue 53.