TaxPayers' Alliance reveals University Rich List

Embargoed: 00:01 Thursday 3rd October 

With students starting their university terms, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has today revealed that there was an average of 3,615 staff at British universities taking home over £100,000 each year between 2016 and 2018. 

The University of Edinburgh had the most high earners, reporting that 335 staff received over £100,000 in total remuneration, of which 118 receive over £150,000. The rankings for all universities are available here. 

Universities are funded by both taxpayers, and from students (including graduates) directly. Because of this mixed form of funding, the university sector is spared the scrutiny usually applied to other institutions.

This research presents total remuneration data from 120 universities for 2016-17 to 2018-19 to highlight that higher pay at many British universities is soaring. Furthermore, there are only small correlations existing between the number of highly paid staff at a university and student satisfaction and employment rates. 

The figures should encourage students to press for the best value from their tuition fees, as well as help taxpayers hold universities to account for the money they are spending.

Click here to read the research paper.

Key findings

  • Across 120 universities, there was on average 3,615 staff taking home over £100,000 each year in total remuneration, of these there were 762 staff being remunerated over £150,000.

  • Russell Group universities reported much higher numbers of highly paid staff than other university groups and unaffiliated universities. On average over 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, Russell Group members remunerated 185 members of staff over £100,000, and 63 over £150,000. The average numbers for an unaffiliated university meanwhile are 27 staff receiving over £100,000 and five staff receiving over £150,000, with MillionPlus and University Alliance institutions lower still.

  • The University of Edinburgh reported the greatest number of high earners, reporting that 335 staff received over £100,000 in total remuneration, of which 118 receive over £150,000. The university with the second highest number of staff receiving over £100,000 was the University of Manchester, with 331 receiving over £100,000. The London School of Economics had the second highest number of staff receiving over £150,000, with 117.

  • Universities with more staff paid over £100,000 fared better in student satisfaction surveys, though no such correlation exists in terms of the number of staff paid over £150,000. Conversely, there is no clear correlation between universities with more high paid staff and employment rates post-graduation.

  • There is a strong correlation showing that the greater the number of highly paid staff a university has, the higher the average earnings of a graduate. This trend is consistent at both the £100,000 and £150,000 level, it is however much weaker in the case of the highest earning staff.

  • Oxford and Cambridge did not provide the full information requested and so have been excluded from the data. Cambridge did provide remuneration data which excluded pension contributions showing that 357 staff were paid over £100,000 in 2017-18. Oxford meanwhile paid 331 staff a base salary in excess of £100,000. Had total remuneration data been provided it is likely these institutions would have topped the university pay rankings

Click here to read the research paper.

Kieran Neild, Grassroots Assistant at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

"These rankings shine a light on the thousands of university administrators taking home very plush pay packets.

"Taxpayers and students will be left with a degree of uncertainty over whether this is money is being well spent, particularly when left-wing professors are so keen to lecture them about the evils of inequality. 

"Instead of constantly complaining about faculty budget cuts, uni bosses need to get their bumper wage bills under control and focus on providing their students with the very best higher education they can."


TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

James Roberts

Political Director, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The TaxPayers' Alliance recently published the Freedom Factbook showing how free markets have created more prosperous societies.
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience.  More info. Okay