University head under fire for flights bill

Lancaster University vice-chancellor Prof Mark E. Smith.
Lancaster University vice-chancellor Prof Mark E. Smith.

The Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University spent £23,887 on flights last year, making him the 14th highest spending UK university head on air fares, according to a new report.

The report released by the University and College Union (UCU) also shows that Prof Mark E. Smith earned £281,000 in 2013/14, an increase of 3.6 per cent on the previous year (£271,000 in 2012/13).

UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: ‘This report lifts the lid on the inconsistent and arbitrary nature of senior pay and perks in our universities and shines a light on the murky world of shadowy remuneration committees who sign off these deals.

“We need a far more transparent system that allows for proper scrutiny of spending at the top and the rationale behind pay rises.”

A university spokesman said: “There were no first class flights taken. The salary of the vice chancellor reflects the role of leading a complex and successful international university which contributes millions to the local economy each year.

“Lancaster educates nearly as many students abroad as in the UK and has campuses in Ghana, Pakistan, India and Malaysia.

“Part of the vice-chancellor’s role requires him to attend graduation ceremonies, host international alumni events and meet with international vice-chancellors and business people around the world to further the success of the university.”