LATEST: Nescot accepts former £360k a year principal was unfairly dismissed

An FE principal and chief executive officer (CEO) has been paid a salary of over £330k for 2014/15 — more than doubling her wage for the previous year.

Sunaina Mann, principal and CEO of the North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot) Group, received £331,000 for the academic year 2014/15, according to data made available by the Skills Finding Agency (SFA) on March 10.

This was an increase of 120 per cent on her salary of £150k for 2013/14.

It comes in the third year of Nescot’s involvement in the Saudi Arabian Colleges of Excellence programme. In September 2013, Nescot set up a female college in Jeddah as part of the scheme, which promotes technical and vocational education in the region.

A spokesperson for Nescot said: “Sunaina Mann is the principal and CEO of the Nescot Group, which includes Nescot and the Jeddah College of Excellence.”

The spokesperson also said that Ms Mann’s complete salary in 2014/5 was £363,000.

When asked to comment on the salary increase, the spokesperson said there was no further comment.

The figures come at a time when unions representing FE workers are engaged in an ongoing row over pay, in response to the Association of Colleges offer of a zero per cent pay rise for 2015/16.

In February, around 200 colleges were hit with joint strike action, as members of the University College Union and Unison walked out and joined picket lines as part of the pay dispute.

According to the SFA data, six other FE providers also paid their principals or CEOs a salary of £200k or above in the last academic year.

The second highest salary went to the principal and CEO of Birmingham Metropolitan College, at £298k, though this was a decrease of ten per cent on the salary payments for the role in 2013/14.

The second highest salary increase was at North Hertfordshire College (NHC), where the principal’s salary was £203k for 2014/15, compared to £162k for 2013/14 – a 25 per rise.

An NHC spokesperson said: “We appointed a new chief executive in March 2015.  In making that appointment we offered a package that enabled us to attract candidates with the vision and expertise required to steer the institution toward a vibrant, sustainable, future.

“The salary in the SFA summary of college’s accounts reflects that package and the fact that we employed both our current and previous chief executives for an overlapping period.”

Dame Asha Khemka’s salary as principal and CEO of Vision West Nottinghamshire College was the third highest for the last academic year, at £245k, a seven per cent increase on her salary of £229k for 2013/14.

This was followed by the Newcastle College Group (NCG), where chief executive Joe Docherty received £227k for 2014/15 — a small increase of one per cent on the previous year.

A spokesperson for NCG said: “The salary figures quoted by the SFA are for the chief executive of NCG, Joe Docherty and not the Principal of Newcastle College.

“NCG is not a single further education college, but one of the UK’s largest education and training organisations with a turnover of £178m in the year 14/15 from a variety of public sector bodies and commercial income.

“The chief executive heads a large, complex organisation with more than 3,000 employees in four colleges and two training organisations which work across the UK at more than 70 locations.

“This is not a traditional FE college principal’s role, and comparable organisations in the private sector which we often compete against for many of our contracts, would pay considerably more.”

Salford City College came next with a figure of £212k for 2014/15, but a spokesperson from the college informed FE Week that these figures reflect the fact that, for part of 2015, the college had two principals in post to “facilitate a hand-over period”. She added: “Neither principal received a salary exceeding £200k.”

Finally, Stockport College and Cornwall College Group (TCCG) came in at £201k and £200k respectively for 2014/15. This was an increase of 15 per cent on 2013/14 for Stockport and nine per cent for TCCG.

A Stockport College spokesperson said: “The total cost indicated is in respect of an interim principal who was engaged on a short term basis which was extended while the College Corporation engaged in the process of finding a permanent principal.  This is not reflective of the current salary of the new principal.”

A spokesperson for TCCG said that the principal had “not received a pay rise”, because the SFA figures for 2013/14 only represents 11 months of being in post.

He said: “The Cornwall College Group is the fifth largest FE college in the country, one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships, with eight sites, each vital to their local communities, together with significant outreach provision, stretching from Exeter to Falmouth.

“The principal’s salary was set on appointment in August 2013 and has seen no increase since this time.

“The principal was selected by a panel made up of members of our Board, with a focus on finding the right calibre of individual during a challenging time for FE. Our recent Ofsted inspection graded us as ‘Good’ in all categories.”

Birmingham Metropolitan College and Vision West Nottinghamshire College were unable to comment in the time available.

Top ten highest salaries for college leaders in 2014/15. *Salford City College salary was split between two principals in post at the time, during a handover period.