RAE ANGUS of Aberdeen College emerges as Scotland's highest paid principal in the first published survey of pay at the top, earning pound;79,000 last year.
This is scarcely surprising as Aberdeen is also the college with the largest student head count, as calculated by the Scottish Office's formula using weighted student units of measurement (WSUMs in the trade).
Mr Angus's salary has risen by pound;7,000 in three years - and his WSUMs grew by 11,000 to 111,448 in 1996-97. His earnings, up by 10 per cent, almost exactly matched growth of 11 per cent.
But colleges whose principals have retired or been retired are able to save considerably. A spectacular victim is Fiona Baikie, principal of Edinburgh's Telford. Although her college is the second biggest after Aberdeen and had a similar leap in the WSUM count, Ms Baikie earned only pound;63,000 last year, pound;16,000 less than her predecessor. Ken MacCallum at Bell College has also lost out heavily.
The second biggest earner is Terry Davies, principal of James Watt College in Greenock, the third largest on the 1996-97 student count, who received pound;75,000 last year, in line with a WSUM increase of 20,000 from 1994-97 But the biggest salary leap of 30 per cent over the three years occurred at Cardonald in Glasgow, as Ros Micklam succeeded Ray Bailey. Next came Alastair Tyre at Langside in Glasgow who retired earlier this year having seen his earnings grow by 22 per cent.
At the other end of the spectrum, not unexpectedly, the lowest salary of pound;47,000 is paid to David Rose and Chris Nixon, principals of the small agricultural colleges at Barony and Oatridge.
The only college unable to supply a salary figure for last year was Moray because, according to the Scottish Office, the college had not submitted approved annual accounts for 1997-98.
It is a condition of each college's Scottish Office grant that boards of management fix principals' emoluments through a remuneration committee.
The former Employers' Association set guidance on salary bands but the successor Association of Scottish Colleges does not, believing that it is a matter for each college.
Although the figures for each of the three years cover pay, bonuses, expenses and benefits, it should be stressed that each college has a different package. Individual annual accounts do not divulge these details.
UPS AND DOWNS OF PRINCIPALS' PAY
COLLEGE 1995-96 1996-97 1997-98
Aberdeen pound;72,000 pound;76,000 pound;79,000
Angus* pound;51,000 pound;49,000 pound;51,000
Anniesland* pound;46,000 pound;45,000 pound;51,000
Ayr pound;60,000 pound;66,000 pound;70,000
Banff and Buchan pound;52,000 pound;55,000 pound;57,000
Barony pound;48,099 pound;45,600 pound;47,000
Bell* pound;68,000 pound;73,000 pound;60,000
Borders* pound;57,000 pound;57,000 pound;53,000
Cardonald* pound;57,000 pound;64,000 pound;74,000
Central (Glasgow) pound;57,000 pound;58,000 pound;60,000
Clackmannan pound;49,000 pound;50,000 pound;50,000
Clydebank* pound;61,000 pound;67,000 pound;57,000
Coatbridge pound;48,000 pound;50,000 pound;52,000
Cumbernauld pound;47,000 pound;52,000 pound;52,000
Dumfries and Galloway pound;57,000 pound;58,000 pound;59,000
Dundee* pound;66,000 pound;65,000 pound;68,000
Elmwood* pound;50,000 pound;57,000 pound;56,000
Falkirk pound;56,000 pound;60,000 pound;68,000
Fife* pound;55,000 pound;62,083 pound;62,000
Glasgow College of Building amp; Printing pound;57,000 pound;60,000 pound;68,000
Glasgow College of Food Technology* pound;52,000 pound;53,000 pound;50,000
Glasgow College of Nautical Studies pound;50,000 pound;53,000 pound;56,000
Glenrothes pound;55,000 pound;59,000 pound;62,000
Inverness* pound;53,994 pound;48,690 pound;49,000
James Watt pound;64,000 pound;70,000 pound;75,000
Jewel and Esk Valley pound;56,000 pound;59,000 pound;61,000
John Wheatley pound;44,000 pound;47,000 pound;48,000
Kilmarnock* pound;78,000 pound;62,000 pound;64,000
Langside pound;55,000 pound;60,000 pound;67,000
Lauder* pound;55,000 pound;55,000 pound;57,000
Lews Castle* pound;55,434 pound;51,828 pound;48,000
Moray pound;62,127 pound;64,687 NA
Motherwell pound;56,000 pound;58,000 pound;59,000
North Glasgow pound;55,000 pound;63,000 pound;63,000
Oatridge pound;45,000 pound;45,000 pound;47,000
Perth pound;55,000 pound;59,000 pound;66,000
Reid Kerr pound;55,000 pound;57,000 pound;60,000
South Lanarkshire pound;48,000 pound;51,000 pound;53,000
Stevenson pound;57,000 pound;61,000 pound;62,000
Stow pound;64,000 pound;65,000 pound;71,000
Telford* pound;79,000 pound;63,000 pound;63,000
Thurso pound;47,000 pound;55,000 pound;54,000
West Lothian pound;45,000 pound;50,000 pound;51,000
*denotes change of principal
(includes benefits in kind, taxable expense allowances and bonuses)