The head of the University of Birmingham earned nearly £420,000 last year - a seven per cent increase on the year before.
University of Birmingham vice chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, enjoyed a £419,000 total wage bill to cover pay and pensions during the 2010/11 academic year.
The figure is just £5,000 short of the UK’s top earning university vice chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton from Oxford University, who earned £424,000.
Prof Eastwood’s total pay, which includes his basic salary, pension contributions and performance-related bonus, was branded “insensitive” by Mark Harrop, head of Birmingham Guild of Students.
But the university said Prof Eastwood had agreed to a salary freeze in 2010/11, and had previously opted to surrender half of his performance bonus back in 2009.
Details of his pay come as the university is set to treble tuition fees to £9,000-a year from the autumn.
Mr Harrop said: “We feel the university should pay closer attention to economic sensitivities when deciding vice chancellor and senior management’s pay, especially when the average staff salary increases were well below that of inflation.”
The University of Birmingham was one of 56 UK universities which increased total pay packages for vice chancellors.
The average university head was paid £239,000, and the institution which gave the biggest rise was City University London, which upped the total salary for the top job by 35 per cent.
Prof Eastwood’s pay packet during 2010/11 covered a base salary of £323,000 and a performance-related payout of £29,000.
The bonus can be anything up to 10 per cent of his basic salary.
As part of his contract, the vice-chancellor is required to reside in a University property on campus, and a sum is included in remuneration to cover a share of the running costs.
Ed Smith, pro-chancellor and chair of council at Birmingham put the total increase between 2009/10 and last year down to Prof Eastwood accepting his full performance-related bonus during 2010/11, and a difference in running costs.
He said: “Professor David Eastwood is the highly experienced head of a complex and successful organisation with a global reach.
“Indeed, he is recognised both by his peer group and internationally as an outstanding leader of his generation in the higher education sector.
“The university is a very significant enterprise with around 28,000 students, 6,000 staff and a turnover of over £460m.
“It is also worth noting that he is a generous donor to the University.”