28th March 2023

Created on: 28 Mar 2023

Difference Is Striking

Dear Member

Since 2009, academics' pay has hugely declined in real terms while the pay of Principals has increased vastly. In Scotland, the First Minister of the country earns £157,861, that's less than every university Principal in Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary for Education is earning £112,919 – that's not even half of what some Principals are taking home. This is absurd.

The money to pay ordinary staff fairly in Higher Education exists, it's just going into the pockets of the few. In recent years, even the Scottish Government has had to ask Principals and senior staff to demonstrate restraint in their own pay awards, while all the time your pay has been declining in value.

If you are a Principal of a Scottish University, you are doing just fine – they're not worrying about filling the tank to get to work or counting the pennies! In 2021-22 there were no Principals in Scotland earning under £187,000 pa and most were earning higher salaries, with perks like residences and chauffeurs on top.  

Table showing the emoluments for HE Principals in Scotland in 2021-22. 

Higher Education Institution

Principals' Emoluments (£) (inc. salaries, cash in lieu of pension contributions and benefits in kind etc.)

University of Aberdeen


Abertay University


University of Dundee


University of Edinburgh


Edinburgh Napier University


University of Glasgow


Glasgow Caledonian University


Glasgow School of Art


Heriot Watt University




Queen Margaret University


Robert Gordon University


University of St Andrews


University of Stirling


University of Strathclyde




Source: HEIs Financial Accounts 2021-22

*Abertay - Principal Nigel Seaton retired on 30th April 2022 and was succeeded by Liz Bacon started on 1st May 2022 and was paid £49  in the period 1/5/22 – 31/7/22.

*UWS - Craig Mahoney served as Principal and Vice Chancellor until 5 January 2022. Thereafter, Lucy Meredith took over in the role in an interim capacity paid 107k / 132k. A new permanent Principal, James Millar is now in place.

Taking industrial action is necessary to stop the erosion of your pay and receive a decent pay rise, just like your Principal has been having. Our campaign is to ensure that all university academics get a decent pay rise – not just those at the top.

Vote YES to strike action and YES to action short of a strike! Let's halt the real terms decline in university pay for academics!

If you have not received your ballot paper, please contact ballots@eis.org.uk .

The last safe posting date for your ballot, because of Easter, is 8th April.

Please vote as soon as you can and encourage your colleagues to stand up with you and post their ballot now!