Lecturers have hit out out the £125,000 salary of a new college principal arguing staff are being shortchanged.

The attack came after Glasgow Kelvin College announced the salary details of its new principal and chief executive Derek Smeall.

The appointment comes at a difficult time for Scottish colleges with ongoing strikes over pay.

The Educational Institute of Scotland’s Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) contrasted the salary with that of Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney, who earns £97,000.

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An EIS-FELA spokesman said: “We have previously indicated that we are concerned about the level of principals’ pay across the sector.

“While this is significantly less than the package of other principals within the same region, it is still a higher salary than the Cabinet Secretary for Education to run a relatively small further education college.

“Some principals have been awarded a cost of living pay increase in line with public sector pay policy in recent years, whilst our members are being denied this for the same period and are having to resort to industrial action to secure such an award.”

The spokesman said lecturers were being continually told no money was available.

A college spokeswoman said Mr Smeall’s basic annual salary of £124,000 had been agreed by the board of management’s remuneration committee and approved by the wider Glasgow Colleges’ Regional Board before the start of the recruitment process.

The highest salary in the sector is the £159,000 paid to Paul Little, principal of City of Glasgow College.

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Mr Smeall, currently a vice-principal at New College Lanarkshire, will succeed Alan Sherry, who is set to retire this summer following a 32-year career in the college.

A graduate of Stirling University and the Open University, Mr Smeall spent 15 years in the Royal Air Force before becoming a development engineer with Marconi.

He began his 19 year career in further education as a lecturer in engineering in before progressing to curriculum manager, head of faculty and then senior management at the Lanarkshire college.

He said: “It is a great privilege to be given the opportunity to become Glasgow Kelvin College’s new principal.

“I am very proud to be joining such an exceptional college with its outstanding record of delivering accessible, life-changing education to the people and communities of Glasgow and Scotland.”

Ian Patrick, chair of Glasgow Kelvin College’s board of management, said members had been impressed with Mr Smeall’s commitment to and enthusiasm for the values and vision of the college.

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He said: “We are confident he is the right person to build on the college’s current successes and lead it through its next stage of development.”

Mr Smeall will take up his post on 1st August this year.

Earlier this month, lecturers voted overwhelmingly to escalate industrial action in their increasingly bitter battle over pay.

Under the move EIS-FELA members could withhold student assessment results.

The union has already taken part in four strikes since January in a dispute over cost of living rises to their salaries.

EIS-FELA says its members have been offered a two per cent consolidated pay rise covering a three year period which does not cover increases in inflation.

However, Colleges Scotland, argues most lecturers have received significant increases in recent years because of an agreement to harmonise pay across the country.

They say colleges cannot afford to pay for any further rises and doing so would lead to course cuts and job losses.