THE vice chancellor of the University of Bolton has been awarded a pay rise of nearly £20,000.

The university has released its latest financial statement revealing the salary of Professor George Holmes, which has increased from £202,500 to £222,200.

With healthcare benefits and pension contributions to teachers’ pension schemes, that rises to a total of £260,500, up from £233,600 in 2014-15.

The university said the salary of the vice chancellor is set by a committee of independent governors based upon job performance and comparisons in the sector — and in this case the Governors’ Remuneration Committee found that the performance had "exceeded expectations".

A spokesman said: "In addition the latest University College Union (UCU) national survey showed that the average market value of vice-chancellors’ accommodation – provided free by their university – was £1.2million.

"At Bolton the vice chancellor receives no such benefit and in fact recently paid the university over £62,000 in interest on the bridging loan used to buy a £1m house of his own which he frequently uses for official university events.

"Despite widely being credited over the last 10 years with both the reshaping of the University of Bolton and its new found prosperity, Professor Holmes continues to be amongst the lowest paid of university heads.

"The university which generated a £6m surplus last year according to its accounts is a very different place to the institution Dr Holmes came to in 2005."

The spokesman said that the university plays a central role in the development of the town of Bolton itself, including opening the University Technical College, and the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering.

The university spokesman said: "Almost £60m of recent new initiatives in Bolton have been the initiatives of the vice chancellor who has himself brought in over £20m of additional grant funding to support the developments alone."

The spokesman said that the the average salary and benefits package paid to university heads in the UK rose by £14,595 last financial year and when pension contributions are included, average remuneration for UK vice chancellors was around £272,000.

The financial statement just published also reveals that five people on the university payroll are earning more than £100,000.

But the pay rise has been criticised by trade union UCU.

Its members at the University of Bolton walked out in May of this year after being offered just 1.1 per cent pay rise in a national strike.

But the university said that some staff members are subject to nationally negotiated pay awards, with the University of Bolton being signed up to this agreement and added the university is a living wage employer.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt said: "UCU has said for many years that the salaries and benefits enjoyed by some vice chancellors are embarrassing for the university sector.

"As staff pay falls in real terms and many academics are stuck in insecure contracts, inflation-busting salary increases of the level at Bolton show just how out touch some vice-chancellors are.

"Bolton in particular has a shocking record when it comes to scrutiny of the vice chancellor’s pay and perks. The university refuses to answer Freedom of Information requests about George Holmes’ pay and perks and, while we understand the full extent of spending on pay and perks for the boss may make uncomfortable reading for some, that is no excuse to escape proper scrutiny."

The financial statement, which is on the university’s website also reveals that Professor Holmes repaid his controversial loan of nearly a £1 million to buy a house in Bolton in full with interest on its due date of October 31.