Halve top university salaries to cut tuition fees, says ex-minister Lord Adonis

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Vice-chancellors and other highly paid university staff should halve their salaries to help efforts to lower tuition fees, according to a former education minister.

Lord Adonis said no vice-chancellor has produced figures to show their university's arts and social studies courses, among others, cost £9,250 to deliver or that they are worth such a sum. 

In an interview alongside Southbank University vice-chancellor David Phoenix, the Labour peer told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "My own view is that Southbank University, and I say this in the presence of the vice-chancellor, could offer many of these courses for about half that level.

"And one of the places they could start saving money soonest, and I say this again with Dave here as I think it's as well we have these issues out in the open, is his own salary and that of his senior management team.

"Dave is paid a salary of £295,000 for leading a public service institution. He has 10 staff at his university who are paid over £100,000.

"All of those salaries, in my view, should be halved. That would save £1 million alone and that would be a big first step towards reducing fees."

Mr Phoenix replied: "I wish I was paid that, I'd like to see..."

Lord Adonis, a vocal critic of the salaries of vice-chancellors, intervened: "You are, it's in your accounts for last year."

Asked about his salary, Mr Phoenix said: "My base salary is £227,000."

Lord Adonis added: "You then have additional allowances on top and you have a big pension contribution."

Mr Phoenix later said he believes staff salaries receive media coverage as it "deflects from actually the true question", which is how much students need to pay at source.

He added: "The fees system when it came in, I think, was incredibly beneficial both to universities and individuals because it did help make sure people could access funds to access education.

"But I would support the view the balance of fees has gone too far.

"But universities have to make sure they have a sustainable organisation - that they have the money to invest in the future."