23rd June 2023

Created on: 23 Jun 2023 | Last modified: 09 Nov 2023

Dear Member

Last week we wrote to you about University finances, and how Universities can afford to pay you a decent pay rise in 2023-24.

This week let's focus on those who have not been subject to the same line when it comes to their pay – Principals.

The truth is, when it comes to University staff, we are not all in it together.

In 2018, The Herald reported on bumper pay increases for Principals since 2007 – a decade of up to 75% increases in pay for the Principals of Scottish Universities.

Has the situation improved since? Did the pandemic and economic turbulence put a dampener on the pay of the most senior staff?  The answer is no.

Together, the Principals of Scottish Universities’ have benefited from over £300,000 between them this year.

Meanwhile staff face the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, with sub inflationary pay rises cutting into the value of your pay over and over again.

Here's a snapshot of Principal's pay in 2023.


University Principal

Salary (excluding pension)



University of Aberdeen


Abertay University


University of Dundee


University of Edinburgh


Edinburgh Napier University


University of Glasgow


Glasgow Caledonian


Glasgow School of Art


Heriot Watt University




Queen Margaret University


Robert Gordon University


University of St Andrews


University of Stirling


University of Strathclyde


University of the West of Scotland



Some Principals have seen particularly extraordinary pay rises.  For example, The Principal at University of Edinburgh has seen their pay rise by £43,000 this year alone. At the University of Aberdeen the Principal will take home an extra £28k, and at St Andrews, an extra £44,000 will go to the Principal. 

This is on top of the other perks Principals receive, like access to cars and residences.

The fact is when it comes to their own pay, Principals can find the cash for a good rise. Meanwhile university staff are seeing deep cuts to the value of their pay.

We think this is unfair and must stop. If you agree, we urge to you vote REJECT to the 2023-24 pay offer and YES to strike action and action short of strike.

The ballot closes on 30th June, so please use your vote as soon as possible if you have not already done so.  If you need assistance in voting please contact ballot@eis.org.uk without delay.