UNIVERSITIES will have to justify bosses' salaries under a new code that also bans vice-chancellors from sitting on committees that decide their pay.

The new Higher Education Senior Staff Remuneration Code, published today, says that salaries should be "sufficient to recruit, retain and motivate staff" but must also be transparent and value for money.

It comes after a long-running row over the pay packets of vice-chancellors – including that of University of Southampton boss, Sir Christopher Snowden.

The vice-chancellor sparked outrage after he revealed he was on the committee that awarded him a pay package worth £433,000.

A Southampton University spokesman said at the time that although Snowden sat on that committee, he was not present at meetings in which his pay was decided.

Under the new draft code, published by the Committee of University Chairs (CUC), vice-chancellors will be banned from sitting on such committees.

The document, published in January for consultation, and now released in its final version, says: "Remuneration starts with a clear understanding of the responsibilities, context and expected contribution of a role and the attributes required to undertake that role effectively.

"Fair and appropriate remuneration then recognises an individual's contribution to their institution's success in that role, and is sufficient to recruit, retain and motivate staff of appropriate calibre in the context of the market for that role, balanced with the need to demonstrate the achievement of value for money in the use of resources."

The code states that institutions should publish the multiple of the remuneration of the leader and the median earnings of the university's whole workforce.

This means, for example, that a university would need to state if the vice-chancellor is earning two, three or four times (or more) as much as the typical salary at the university.

If this multiple is significantly above average they will have to explain why.

Universities already have to publish annual reports, which include the wages of senior leaders.

CUC figures show that the average basic salary for a vice-chancellor stands at £255,502.

The code, which applies to universities in England, also says that "no individual can be involved in deciding his or her remuneration".

The new pay code is voluntary for universities.

However, those who do not sign up to it will have to explain why they have not done so and what they are doing to show they are fair and transparent about senior leaders' pay, CUC said.

Commenting on the document, a spokesperson for the University of Southampton: "The university, through its council and remuneration committee, is fully committed to good governance and supports the new remuneration guidance issued by the committee of university chairs.

"The salaries of our own senior staff, including the vice-chancellor, are set and regularly reviewed by the university’s independently-chaired remuneration committee.

"The Vice-Chancellor is not a member of this committee and is not present at any point during meetings for discussions around his own pay."

CUC chair Chris Sayers said: "We are confident the new code will promote more transparency and improve the public's understanding of and confidence in how decisions around pay are made."

Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, said: "Universities receive significant amounts of public funding, so it is only right that their senior staff pay arrangements command public confidence and deliver value for money for both students and taxpayers."