UNIVERSITY of Tasmania vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen has received a pay rise of more than $250,000 for his role in the top job, which would see him earn at least $855,000 a year.
According to information in the university’s 2014 annual report, Professor Rathjen has been elevated to the higher wage bracket of $855,000 to $869,000 – up from between $585,000 and $599,000 a year in 2013.
This equates to an extra $5000 a week, and about a 40per cent pay rise.
Australian vice-chancellors (VC) receive big dollars, with the highest earner at University of Sydney reportedly earning $1.3million.
In 2013, Professor Rathjen’s pay package fell into some of the lowest-paid VCs in the nation, but the latest bump up, which came with the renewal of a contract until 2018, sees him sitting in the middle of the payment field alongside VCs from the Griffith, Australian National, and La Trobe Universities.
The rise coincides with university plans to increase its turnover to $1billion, get 10,000 Tasmanians into higher education, increase international student numbers and move the Newnham campus.
It also comes at a time when Commonwealth funding is to be reduced by $35million, and about 70 jobs have been cut in restructures since December last year.
UTAS chancellor Michael Field said Professor Rathjen’s salary was determined by the university council’s remuneration committee with regard to salary levels and market forces across the sector.
He said the role demanded world-class leadership in a competitive field, which Professor Rathjen delivered.
‘‘This is an institution which turns over more than half a billion dollars; it provides education of national standing to almost 30,000 students; delivers world-leading research; and has almost $1billion in assets. It has delivered China-level growth rates in recent years and has emerged as a potential economic sector in its own right,’’ Dr Field said.
National Tertiary Education Union secretary Kelvin Michael said the significant increase came when the university was experiencing some financial constraint, set to possibly lose $35million in Commonwealth funding.
‘‘We would hope that the remuneration committee provides fiscal oversight when it is in negotiation with staff for salaries, and we would hope that the same principle applies when the university is in negotiation with remuneration for its senior management team,’’ Dr Michael said.
Dr Field added that the university, under the leadership of Professor Rathjen since 2011, had significantly moved forward in areas of priority. ‘‘Major capital works programs such as the NRAS student accommodation have been a considerable direct contributor to the state’s commercial building sector. What is more, in the past year we have taken the first confident steps to bold new approaches to address the critically important issue of this state’s poor educational attainment and retention, including the creation of the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment.’’