The unions have been highly critical of "fat cat" college managements and the Borders decision, suggested by management, will be seen as an attempt to signal fairness. The college's senior management will now receive lower salary increases over the next two years (5 per cent) than lecturers (7 per cent).
The news emerged as the annual survey of principals' remuneration is published by The TES this week (pages 32-33). The sums include pension and national insurance contributions plus other benefits, which the Association of Scottish Colleges is at pains to underline.
The principal of Clydebank College is listed as the highest earner in Scotland in 2001-02, on pound;112,000 a year. Although all figures are compiled from colleges' own annual accounts, the ASC says this sum is "seriously misleading" since it is for both the former principal who was on long-term sick leave before retiring and for the acting principal over a period of seven to eight months.
Other earnings range from pound;103,000 at James Watt College in Greenock (25th highest in the UK) to pound;55,000 for Oatridge College in West Lothian (equal 434th). In England and Wales, pay stretches from pound;164,000 at Barnsley College to pound;40,000 at Coleg Harlech.
But Jane Polglase, the association's policy manager, said: "It is perhaps a stark indicator of the current funding situation of colleges that a significant number of principals in Scotland are paid close to or in the same pay range as headteachers of schools, which are on average about a tenth of the size and are not independent institutions."