ACADEMIC staff at Bournemouth University held a two-hour strike yesterday in protest at a one per cent pay offer.

They have contrasted the national offer with the 19 per cent pay rise taken by Bournemouth’s vice-chancellor John Vinney, whose salary rose to £211,000 last year.

Maike Helmers, branch secretary of the University and College Union, said: “The one per cent pay offer came on the back of several years of below inflation pay offers, which has resulted in a real terms cut of 13 per cent on our salaries. This has been given sharper focus by the vice-chancellor taking a 19 per cent pay rise.”

She added: “Our argument is that if there’s a climate of austerity, when they decided to give us one per cent it should have been one per cent for all.”

Strikers handed out leaflets at the university’s Talbot Campus for an hour yesterday, before branch chairman John Brissenden led a “teach-in” event highlighting the union’s pay stance. They plan a day of action on February 6 and another two-hour stoppage on February 10.

Maike Helmers said the strike had been “well supported” by staff. Around half the 500 staff on the campus are members of the UCU. The university has defended the pay award to the vice-chancellor, saying it was set by an independent committee according to “benchmark data for the sector”.

It said he was paid below the average for UK vice-chancellors.

A university statement yesterday on the pay dispute said: “This is a national dispute and BU does not endorse the strike action and has asked academic staff to ensure that any potential effects on students are minimised.”