University of Essex senior team announce voluntary pay reduction in response to COVID-19

  • Date

    Wed 22 Apr 20

The Vice-Chancellor and members of the senior leadership team at the University of Essex have decided to take a reduction in their pay.

The savings generated by this voluntary salary reduction will support staff and student hardship funds and will help mitigate painful decisions the University needs to make.

This decision was made as the University announced it was planning an Emergency Budget for the next academic year, to ensure it can continue operating, despite a significant short-term fall in income. 

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, confirming that he took a voluntarily 20% pay cut at the start of April, said: “I recognise many people in our community are facing severe financial hardship as a result of the impact of COVID-19. The University is having to take very difficult decisions about our finances to make the significant savings which are absolutely essential to ensure our financial sustainability and I wanted to play my part.

“My decision to reduce my salary will not determine whether the University can survive or not, I felt that it was a matter of conscience: as a result of the pandemic we are making extraordinary demands on our staff and I felt this was the right action to take.’  

The University of Essex is one of the largest employers in the region and attracts investment, skills and talent from across the globe. In the Colchester area the University’s economic impact is £458 million, providing 2,100 jobs and indirectly supporting a further 3,000 jobs, and at Southend its economic impact is £53 million, providing 114 jobs and indirectly supporting a further 164 jobs. 

The University’s priority is to avoid redundancies and focus all resources on essential spending. It has confirmed: any staff member being temporarily furloughed will have their salaries topped up to 100% for the first three months; that the University is honouring all existing employment commitments for the rest of this academic year; and ensuring that no staff member who is on a fixed term contract has their employment curtailed before the end of their contract period. 


  1. All University staff being placed on temporary leave (‘furlough’) through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, will have their salaries topped up to 100% for the first three months. 
  2. All staff on fixed term contracts will be employed until the end of their contracts and no staff have had their contracts terminated early.
  3. Members of senior staff have voluntarily chosen to reduce their salaries.  
  4. In addition to the senior leadership team (University Steering Group), all staff earning over £100,000 have been personally asked by the Vice-Chancellor to consider a voluntary salary reduction.