A university vice-chancellor was handed more than £800,000 in her final year, including a hefty departure payment, it has been revealed.
Accounts for Bath Spa University show Prof Christina Slade was paid £429,000 “for loss of office” on top of her £250,000 salary and other benefits.
The University and College Union (UCU) has called for an “urgent overhaul” of senior pay at British universities.
A spokeswoman for Bath Spa said the sum represented “value for money”.
Prof Slade, who served as vice-chancellor until August, was also given a housing allowance of £20,000 and another £20,000 for “other benefits-in-kind”.
There were also pension contributions of £89,000.
In total, she received a pay package, including benefits and pensions, worth £808,000, after she decided to leave the job.
Lord Adonis, who is leading a debate on the issue of vice-chancellor pay in the House of Lords, said: “If £800,000 represents value for money for a vice-chancellor, then I am the emperor of China.”
Bath Spa University has not yet given details of the circumstances of her departure, but an interim vice-chancellor, Prof Nick Foskett, is running the university until January.
An incoming vice-chancellor, Prof Sue Rigby will be taking over on 22 January. She is due to be paid 20% less than Prof Slade received in 2015-16.
A spokeswoman for the university said: “Having taken legal advice, the university paid Prof Slade a sum which reflected her contractual and statutory entitlements, and was considered to represent value for money.”
She said that the vice-chancellor’s salary was decided by a pay committee, which did not include the vice-chancellor or staff.
The committee was “mindful of the need to respond to concerns about excessive salaries and take into account the performance of the university”, she added.
Lord Adonis said such high rates of pay were not acceptable when students could potentially be racking up debts of £100,000 because of the way interest was stacking up.
He added that it was not the case that England was losing vice-chancellors to the US, it was simply that universities had seen an explosion in income through higher fees.
He is calling for a independent investigation into the pay of vice-chancellors.
Bath Spa University describes itself as a creative university with about 7,000 students and 1,000 staff.
It was awarded university status in 2005 after seven colleges joined together to make the new institution.
The new revelations came on the day it emerged the retirement terms of Britain’s highest paid vice-chancellor are being investigated by a watchdog.
Prof Dame Glynis Breakwell announced she was resigning from the University of Bath after a row over her £468,000 salary.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said that when it came to senior pay in universities “many vice-chancellors and senior staff look like they are living on a different planet”.
She called for greater transparency into how senior pay awards were decided, with staff and students included on remuneration committees.
“We are seeing what happens when decisions are taken in secret without proper checks and balances,” she added.
“This simply cannot be allowed to continue; we need an urgent overhaul of how senior pay and perks are determined, and how our universities are governed.”