COLLEGE chiefs who already earn more than the First Minister have been condemned for warning they need more pay.
Salaries for principals at leading Scottish colleges are around £150,000 – more than Nicola Sturgeon’s salary of £135,000.
But Sir Geoff Hall, general secretary of the Principals’ Professional Council, now claims heads need salaries that could exceed £200,000.
Sir Geoff’s controversial claim is based on the fact that colleges south of the border pay more than Scotland and could tempt away the best bosses.
But teaching unions – whose members earn around £30,000 – have condemned the call, claiming that the same college bosses have welched on an equal pay agreement.
Taxpayers groups complained that extra cash for college heads should only be granted in recognition of performance.
Just last year Scottish colleges were criticised as “outrageous” for paying principals six-figure annual sums, when salaries for the lowest paid employees in their institutions were less than 10% of their wage.
The top ten colleges by income in Scotland last academic year all paid their principals over £100,000.
City of Glasgow College principal Paul Little, who, on £156,000 was Scotland’s highest earning college leader last year.
In England, Vision West Nottinghamshire College, paid their principal £275,000, almost £120,000 more than the highest earning Scottish equivalent.
Commenting on the situation, Sir Geoff said: “It would seem to me that if a college in a city in Scotland wants a high-quality principal, they will struggle to do so on that kind of salary.”
But the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) complained that the principals demanding more pay were the same ones “dragging their feet on the implementation of an equal pay agreement for FE lecturers”.
The EIS said this included the decision “to withhold an additional cost-of-living payment of £100 for the year 2015-16.”
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance added: “No one begrudges paying teachers or college leaders well, especially those that are turning around poorly performing schools and classes.
“But too often in the public sector we continue to see financial rewards handed out regardless of performance or results.”
Last year, when City of Glasgow College principal Paul Little’s salary was revealed, John Gallacher, Scottish organiser for further education at public sector union Unison, said: “The salary levels of principals have become too high in our view.
“It’s outrageous that the principal of a college can earn ten times that of the lowest paid employee in the same institution and this needs to be addressed.”
Staff at 42 English colleges have principals on higher salaries than
Qualified further education teachers in the UK earn between £23,952 and £36,162.
A spokeswoman for City of Glasgow College defended Mr Little’s salary to an education magazine by saying it had originally been set to reflect “the challenge of successfully establishing Scotland’s super college from a complex three-way merger while simultaneously securing funding for a twin site super campus.”
She said that the continued remuneration was justified by the college’s £190 million balance sheet and “unrivaled global reach.”