21/11/2006 - 21:00

Top marks for academic pay

21/11/2006 - 21:00

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As the world of academia has changed, so too have the remuneration packages of the state’s public university vice-chancellors.

Top marks for academic pay

As the world of academia has changed, so too have the remuneration packages of the state’s public university vice-chancellors.

With life for universities becoming more competitive – for funding, students, grants and top staff – so too has the challenge of attracting leaders to this environment.

In Western Australia, the benefits received by each public university’s highest remunerated officer or member – possibly including housing in some cases – has at least doubled since 1995 and, in the case of Murdoch University it has more than tripled.

In 1995, Murdoch provided benefits of about $165,000 to its most remunerated executive, in line with Edith Cowan University, and slightly below Curtin University of Technology ($210,000) and the University of WA ($215,000).

These days, Murdoch has sprinted ahead by 242 per cent to about $565,000, recorded for the year ending December 31 2005 and presumably received by its vice-chancellor John Yovich.

In the same period: UWA, headed by Alan Robson, provided benefits worth $485,000 to its best remunerated executive; Curtin, then headed by Lance Twomey, provided $475,000; ECU’s Millicent Poole appeared to have received benefits worth $795,000 last year, though this is likely to have included retirement benefits paid out when she finished at the university in December, and was a big jump from about $475,000 in 2004.

The salary growth of WA vice-chancellors appears stronger than that recorded across most of Australia’s universities between the mid-1990s and 2002. In that period, where figures are available, growth of between 50 and 60 per cent would have been more common than the 70-165 per cent growth recorded by the four local public universities.

It is worth noting that WA’s institutions still sit behind the benefits provided by some leading national universities. Last year, the University of Queensland paid $955,000 as its top executive salary, up from $905,000 the previous year. The University of Melbourne paid $855,000, up from $545,000, and the University of Sydney paid $575,000, the same as the previous year.

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