A union acting on behalf of higher education staff has sharply criticised highly-paid university chiefs after the principal of Dundee University was suspended.

Professor Andrew Atherton only took up the £300,000 post in on January 1st of this year, but has been the subject of an investigation since last month.

The nature of any complaint against Mr Atherton has not been revealed by the university, but it has been reported that he failed to pay rent due for a period when he was staying at University House in the City's Perth Road, despite having received a £40,000 relocation allowance to move from his previous job at Lancaster.

Mary Senior, of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) Scotland, said staff who are currently involved in a pensions dispute with university leaders are angry over double standards.

"Universities have been beset by scandals over the pay and perks of those at the top for too long," she said.

"Staff are being forced to ballot for strike action to try and reverse cuts to their pensions, pay and working conditions, while those at the top have grace and favour homes, massive pay rises and a sorry record of helping themselves.

"The time has come for far better scrutiny of the pay and perks of those at the top and fairer and pay and conditions for the rest of our university staff.”

Mr Atherton took on the was previously deputy vice-chancellor at Lancaster university, is reported to be on a £254,000 salary, with an additional £48,000 in pension contributions.

The principal of Dundee University has been suspended for allegedly not paying rent on accommodation.

Professor Andrew Atherton took up the £300,000 role on January 1 after moving from Lancaster University.

He also received a £40,000 "disruption allowance" to help with the move.

Prof Atherton was suspended in September for alleged non-payment of rent on accommodation which the university provided to him.

An independent investigation has been launched.

A Dundee University spokesman said: "Professor Atherton, principal and vice-chancellor, was suspended from office on September 13, pending an investigation which remains to be completed.

"That process includes an investigation carried out by someone external to the university.

"As is our policy in any disciplinary case, it would not be appropriate for the university to comment further while the process is ongoing."

Professor Atherton's remuneration package includes a £254,000 salary and pension contributions.