The leaders of Britain's top universities took home pay rises averaging £22,000 last year, research has shown.
Vice-chancellors at the Russell Group universities received increases of 8.1% despite most of their staff seeing below-inflation pay rises of 1%.
Overall packages, including pensions, to vice chancellors went up by 5.1% according to research by the Times Higher Education (THE) magazine.
Union Unite slammed the figures as "rank hypocrosy" in comments to the Independent newspaper.
THE received survey responses from 19 of the 24 Russell Group universities and found the average vice chancellor salary rose £22,000 to £293,000 in 2012-13.
Including pensions, the average total package was worth £318,500, up from £302,500 the year before.
Haydn Morris of Unite said: "This smacks of rank hypocrisy - given that university staff have endured a six-year pay drought which has seen a 13% cut in pay real terms since 2008.
"On the day that the cost of living crisis has again been highlighted by the leap in rail fares, the university bosses are lining their own substantial pockets while those staff that keep Britain in the top 10 world university league table struggle to make ends meet."
But Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, defended the increases.
She told THE: "The salaries of vice chancellors and other senior staff at our universities reflect their roles leading extremely complex, international organisations with annual turnovers of more than half a billion pounds on average.
"Our vice chancellors still earn significantly less than their counterparts in the United States or Australia despite running equally or, in some cases, more successful universities.
"We will continue to work closely with staff and unions to ensure that we provide competitive but sustainable pay and conditions for our highly valued staff."