THE wealthy Principal of Strathclyde University is embroiled in a double job row after he pocketed £57,250 for sitting on a corporate board.

Sir Jim McDonald, who is already the highest-paid higher education chief north of the border, received the equivalent of £3,816 for each of the 15 board meetings he attended at the Weir Group.

Green MSP Ross Greer said: "Many will understandably question whether this Principal is focusing on his university role given such a well-paid directorship."

McDonald’s £343,000 remuneration package at the University is more than the combined salaries of the Prime Minister and First Minister and exceeds other senior figures in the sector.

In 2014, he came under fire after it emerged that, as well as carrying out his duties at Strathclyde, he was also planning to sit on the board of Weir Group – an engineering giant.

At the time, a University spokeswoman refused to comment on whether it was a paid post and restricted herself to saying: "Strathclyde has a strong tradition of working closely with business and industry and we welcome our staff taking up appointments such as these as it enables the university to stay connected to business, ultimately for the benefit of the economy and academic advancement."

The accounts for the Glasgow-based firm were published recently and confirm McDonald was generously paid for his time.

The £57,250 he received, almost double the average wage in Scotland, was for work carried out in 2015.

Strathclyde has a close working relationship with the firm and collaborates on a range of projects, including the Weir Advanced Research Centre.

According to the University’s website, McDonald is also a non-executive Director of the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

A spokesman for Catapult told this newspaper in 2014 McDonald would be entitled to £12,000 for his work, including £10,000 for board duties and £2,000 as a committee chair.

A combination of his University package, as well Weir Group and Catapult fees, would take McDonald’s remuneration to £412,250.


Picture: UCU official Mary Senior, who has criticised second jobs

Confirmation of McDonald’s extra earnings comes after the University splashed out £1.1m on a lavish Glasgow townhouse for his use.

At the time of purchase, the magnificent five-floor property in the city’s Park Circus boasted three offices, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, drawing room, "show" room, workshop, study and two sitting rooms.

The University also spent £339,000 sprucing up the luxury property, including £4,000 on a wardrobe, £1,180 on a chair, £825 for one drawer and £3400 on sofas.

Apart from a stint in the private sector, the bulk of McDonald’s career has been spent at the University.

He was Head of the Electronic & Electrical Engineering department, before rising to deputy principal and then principal in 2008.

Mary Senior, the Scotland Official at the University and College Union, said:"One of the great sources of frustration and anger amongst our members is the incredible disconnect that exists between principals and the rest of staff.

"UCU members are currently taking industrial action to reverse years of real-terms pay cuts from universities and to address pay inequality. However, those at the top who are holding down their pay, seem to see nothing wrong with second incomes, grace and favour houses or inflation-busting pay rises."

Greer, who speaks for the Scottish Green Party on education, said: "Given the ongoing struggle for frontline university staff to get fair pay while senior management enjoy massive rises, this principal's extremely well paid second job will anger many. Higher education lecturers have seen a real terms pay cut of 13% since 2009.

"He should consider whether this second job is in the best interests of his university and what it does to the confidence, or lack of, that staff have in senior management."

A University spokeswoman said: "The Principal, with the approval of the University Court, serves on the Board of the Weir Group, for which he receives a standard fee. The non-executive role does not impinge on his full-time position at the University."