• Louise Richardson of St Andrews is Scotland's third-highest-paid principal. Picture: Jane Barlow
Aberdeen University's principal is recorded as being the highest-paid in Scotland with a salary of 254,000 – an increase of 13.4 per cent on the previous year.
The figures, compiled by the Times Higher Education Supple-ment, cover 2008-9 when Professor Duncan Rice was principal. He has since been replaced by Ian Diamond.
Second highest-paid in Scotland was the principal of Glasgow University, Sir Muir Russell, who was paid a salary of 248,000. Third was St Andrews University where the salary paid, to cover both the outgoing principal Brian Lang and incoming Louise Richardson, amounted to 240,000.
The figures refer to the amount paid for the post rather than an individual, so can include money paid to two different principals if one has left and been replaced.
The lowest-paid principal in Scotland in 2008-9 was John Wallace, at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, on 117,000. He received a 4.5 per cent rise on his salary the previous year.
Heriot-Watt University, which awarded its principal a 23.8 per cent raise from 168,000 in 2007-8 to 208,000 in 2008-9, had the largest rise in Scotland.
A spokeswoman for Heriot-Watt said: "Principal Muscatelli joined Heriot-Watt on 160,000, a relatively modest salary within the sector, subject to annual performance reviews.
"By the start of the 2008-9 financial year, he had implemented a visionary new strategic plan aimed at growing the academic base of the university by 50 per cent in ten years and repositioning it with the 1994 group of UK universities.
"His abilities had also been demonstrated widely including his election as convener of Universities Scotland. On the basis of his performance, the senior remuneration committee awarded him a performance increment of 6 per cent."
A University of Aberdeen spokeswoman said the principal's salary was even higher once his pension was included.
She said: "Our principal's remuneration package as reported in the university's annual accounts for 2008-9 was 299,000, including benefits and pension contributions.
"The principal's salary is reviewed annually by the remuneration committee of the court (the organisation's governing body] and takes into account performance criteria and the national pay award."
Lecturers, who are currently negotiating a pay deal, were outraged at the size of the increases. Mary Senior, Scotland official for the University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers, accused university leaders of hypocrisy.
She said: "Lecturers have just been offered a pay rise of 0.25 per cent at time when we are seeing these huge increases for principals. It is hypocritical to give such large rises to themselves and senior managers while giving a ludicrous offer to the staff who do all the work."
Principals themselves argued rises this year, 2009-10, had been much lower to reflect the economic situation.
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, the principals' umbrella group, said: "It's difficult to make any sense of the Times Higher's table for Scotland as there have been so many changes among principals in Scotland over the last year, largely as a result of retirement.
"What we do know from UUK (Universities UK] and UCEA's (the Universities and Colleges Employers Association] survey of principals' salaries for this year is that pay increases for 2009-10 reflect the very different funding climate we're now in with the median increase at around 0.5 per cent."
Last month, academics at Edinburgh University held a public protest after all permanent staff in the education faculty were sent redundancy warning notices.
The university says cuts are needed in the department after the government cut the number of teacher training places resulting in a funding reduction.
Strathclyde and Stirling Universities have also undergone voluntary redundancy schemes.