Exeter Uni Vice Chancellor could be paid £830,000 by 2021

The uni says it reflects his ‘commitment and outstanding performance’


Sir Steve Smith, who has been Exeter's Vice Chancellor since 2002, could receive to receive as much as £830,000 after he has served his final year in 2020, according to The Telegraph.

The sum includes Sir Steve's salary of £420,000, as well as bonuses of almost £400,000 and a "retention payment" of £105,850. The deal was made seven years ago under the condition that the Vice Chancellor does not take up a position with a competitor until 2021.

The incentive is the biggest in recent history and far outdoes the sum paid to ex-Bath Vice Chancellor, Glynis Breakwell, who received £468,000. Breakwell was forced to step down from her role after the public backlash she received.

Sir Steve has been in the press before about his spending habits after it was revealed back in 2016 that he spent £6,000 on biscuits over a 21 month period.

Steve Smith is yet to comment publicly on the outcry but the university have said that the massive sum reflects the VC's "commitment and outstanding performance".

A spokesman for the University of Exeter said: “Sir Steve is one of the UK’s longest-serving Vice-Chancellors and Chief Executive of a multi-million pound organisation with a substantial and sustained global reputation. Not only is Exeter recognised as one of the country’s leading research and teaching universities – highlighted by the TEF Gold award for teaching excellence –it also injects £1.1 billion annually into the economy, creating 11,000 jobs, and sponsoring and supporting local schools.

"The Vice-Chancellor’s salary is independently set by the University’s Remuneration Committee, of which the Vice-Chancellor is not a member, and is made publicly available. This year, the Vice-Chancellor’s salary has remained fixed. More significantly, these latest figures show that the overall remuneration package has a year-on-year decrease by almost four per cent. Furthermore, there has been only one increase to his basic salary since 2012.

“The Higher Education sector has experienced a period of considerable change in recent years, and it was essential that the University retained the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor during this time. The Remuneration Committee therefore introduced a conditional, target-led and long-term incentive scheme in 2013, which reflected the value and importance of the Vice-Chancellor’s experience, guidance and expertise to the achievement of the University’s strategic objectives.

"It was agreed that half of this incentive would be paid 12 months after the Vice-Chancellor’s departure, and conditional on not taking employment with a competitor institution. Not only does this protect the University’s commercial and strategic interests, it also ensures the Vice-Chancellor’s considerable experience and skills will be at the disposal of the University for a further 12 months, if required.

"It is important to stress that if payments under these schemes are triggered in 2020 and 2021, they will reflect the Vice-Chancellor’s commitment and outstanding performance against challenging targets over a long period of time. It is equally important to emphasise that the Vice-Chancellor played absolutely no part in the deliberations or agreement of these additional incentives."

Featured image credit: University of Exeter, from Wikimedia commons