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Keeping up with Academic Jones’: Benchmarking and University Vice Chancellors’ Pay in the UK

Gmeiner, Michael, Gschwandtner, Adelina, McManus, Richard (2023) Keeping up with Academic Jones’: Benchmarking and University Vice Chancellors’ Pay in the UK. Higher Education Policy, . ISSN 0952-8733. E-ISSN 1740-3863. (doi:10.1057/s41307-023-00331-2) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:103541)

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We study the pay of chief executives of higher education institutions in the UK, known as ‘Vice Chancellors (VCs), over a ten-year period. As different institutions might have different missions and follow different performance objectives, we use the LASSO method in a novel way to choose which performance parameters are most strongly associated with VC pay for each institution. Moreover, we use the same method in order to decide if and how institutions benchmark against other institutions in terms of VC pay by constructing a set of benchmarks for each one of them. We find that while institutions at the lower and medium end of the pay distribution benchmark primarily against institutions with larger VC pay than themselves, the institutions at the higher end of the pay distribution benchmark primarily towards performance parameters. This type of behavior can explain the recent inflation in pay observed in the sector. Empirical evidence as well as results from simulations motivate a policy recommendation that symmetric benchmarking by all institutions would prevent upward ratcheting of average VC Pay. Whilst we are looking at data stemming from the academic sector in the UK, the method and the recommendations can equally apply to other salaries that are benchmarked such as the ones of professional athletes or CEOs worldwide and therefore, bear generality.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1057/s41307-023-00331-2
Uncontrolled keywords: Executive Compensation, Performance, Efficiency, Benchmarking
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Economics
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Adelina Gschwandtner
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2023 20:11 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2024 10:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Gschwandtner, Adelina.

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