Australian National University's Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt holds one of the most coveted jobs in the higher education industry, but despite the university's number one status in some rankings, Professor Schmidt rates well below his fellow vice chancellors when it comes to pay.
As reported in Fairfax Media on Monday, Professor Schmidt took home $662,500 as a salary in 2017, well below the $1.445 million taken home by the University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Michael Spence and below the salaries of every other vice chancellor in Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
The $662,500 listed in the annual report is higher than what Professor Schmidt actually takes home. In June the university explained in a release alongside its annual report the figure includes $88,487 in superannuation, and $50,867 in annual leave and long service leave entitlements. Just $520,513 is the cash component.
Professor Schmidt declined the opportunity to talk about why his salary is so much lower than his counterparts on Monday, and has declined similar opportunities many times over the past three years he has been in the job. It's understood the pay packet, which lines up with similar positions internationally but is out of step at home, is due to Professor Schmidt's view that to be paid more would be inappropriate.
It's understood Professor Schmidt would accept even less remuneration, but there was concern his low salary would also force down other salaries within the university's executive. According to the university's 2017 annual report, another two members of the executive are paid between $610,000 and $624,999. The university reports 17 members of the executive, with most earning between $175,000 and $324,999.
It's also believed Professor Schmidt's salary was not limited further due to a wish not to undermine the prestige of the position. It's believed if Professor Schmidt were to move on, the university would be in a position to offer a competitive salary to his successor. Professor Schmidt's predecessor Ian Young received between $970,000 and $984,999 in 2014 and 2015, and Professor Schmidt was expected to take home more than a million dollars a year when he began the role in 2016.
While the University of Canberra's vice chancellor Deep Saini took a pay cut between 2016 and 2017, going from $871,000 to $850,500, the salary package for Professor Saini includes provision for a house on the Bruce campus. The next two highest paid executives at the University of Canberra took home between $460,000 and $469,999.