New University Executive Salary Code to Provide Greater Transparency

By Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
August 13, 2021 Updated: August 13, 2021

A voluntary code has been introduced by the University Chancellor’s Council (UCC) with the purpose of increasing the transparency of remuneration received by university senior executives.

The Australian Universities Vice-Chancellor and Senior Staff Remuneration Code (pdf) will require senior university staff to report all remuneration to the UCC, including incentives and bonuses.

“Our Remuneration Code seeks to ensure that the senior executive remuneration at Australian universities is competitive, appropriate and transparent, so that it is understood and supported by the sector’s stakeholders, and the community more broadly,” UCC convenor Stephen Gerlach said in a statement.

Gerlach, who is also chancellor of Flinders University in South Australia, said it was necessary to implement the code to give the community greater transparency and explain why university salaries are where they are.

“Part of this whole code is for UCC to have produced comparative information that can help universities where their own practices are in relation to the broader range of universities offer any number of reasons behind it,” Gerlach told The Epoch Times.

While the code was voluntary, Gerlach said he saw no reason to think that universities would not adopt or take it on board.

“A meeting was held last week, and [the code] was endorsed by the council members and have been referred to each of the universities now for the recommendation that they should have adopted,” he said.

The UCC will collect the reported figures and distribute an annual report from next year with comparative data to all universities. They will also use an annual benchmarking review to compare university senior salaries with other public servants.

The code began being developed after growing media coverage on the $1 million (U.S.$734,000) plus salaries of Australian university vice-chancellors, which are much higher than what other universities heads are paid around the world.

The former University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence had an annual salary of over $1.6 million. However, when he left for a prestigious university in London in 2020, he reportedly took a pay cut of over 50 percent.

University of Sunshine Coast Chancellor Angus Houston chaired the UCC group who developed the code and said remuneration transparency would enable society to have better confidence in their university leaders.

Angus also noted that since the pandemic began, the median salaries of vice-chancellors have declined.

“The median has gone down to less than $1 million,” Angus told The Australian. “I think the very big salaries that were out there a couple of years ago are not there anymore.”

Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu