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Controversy Grows Following Principal Pay Rise

Royal Holloway’s financial report for 2012-13 was released this January and amongst much controversy as it reveals a lot about the financial facts surrounding current hot debates on the recent strikes on pay cuts on campus.

Firstly, it reveals that RHUL Principal, Paul Layzell, received a 3% (£8k) pay increase, bringing his total salary up to £265k per year in a figure that includes his pension, as well as his free house ‘Settrington’ which is positioned adjacent to the campus. This has caused a stir, especially amongst staff who went on strike twice last term in conjunction with UCU and Unite unions, protesting against below inflation pay rise, in effect cutting their wages by 2%. It is unclear whether Professor Layzell had taken a rise for the current 2013-2014 academic year.

Liz Schaffer, chair of the RHUL-UCU trade union branch said that ‘It is strange – and very disappointing – that the Principal has accepted a pay rise of 3% when staff in general at RHUL have only been offered 1%. If I were a student I think I would be complaining to my MP.’

More unrest now seems inevitable as the UCU has planned a series of two hour walk outs in what will be “the largest on-going disruption of teaching ever undertaken” – the first of which was on Thursday 23rd, 11-1. UCU have also announced that if their demands are not met by summer, lecturers will threaten to boycott marking summer exams, potentially making it impossible for some students to graduate this year.

In contrast the Principal of Queen Mary University of London, Simon Gaskell, has pledged to give his pay rise back to the students every year for the ‘foreseeable future’ in the form of five scholarships.

While staff costs did increase by £3.6m, this was because of an expansion of 60 staff, 26 of whom are academic and research staff.

Additional points from the report included that money from funding body grants was down by around £5.5 million, though £786k extra was raised from halls of residence and conferencing, bringing its total to £22.9 million. Income from student fees (Home) rose by £10million. Over RHUL in 2012-13 maintained a surplus of £6 million. This will be added to the University’s reserves, bringing its total to £96,887,000.

The report details state that money is planned to be invested into a new library space to replace Founder’s, attached to a careers centre, café and student support centre which will cost a projected £35mil. Additionally, there are long term plans for new academic buildings, halls of residence and improved walkways. The college also promises to invest in an increasingly sustainable campus, and to lower its carbon footprint.

The Students’ Union condemned the rise and called for the Prinicipal to reject any future pay rise saying: ‘In a context where staff pay is being cut, there are pending government cuts to student grants, and a general crisis in the cost of living for students, surely a rise in the Principal’s pay should be at the very bottom of the priority list?’

Article: Corinna Taylor

Photograph: secretlondon123