Falmouth University has said recent accolades and an increase in student uptake justifies its vice chancellor's almost £300,000 remuneration package, at a time when the average graduate can expect to earn just £16,800.

The university is facing criticism for approving a three per cent pay increase for vice chancellor Anne Carlisle in 2015/16, meaning her remuneration totalled £297,871, including a £222,017 salary and £41,697 pension.

Those figures were released in a report earlier this year by the University and College Union (UCU) which also revealed that Professor Carlisle was paid five times the average wages of academic staff, while four other staff members were also paid over £100,000 a year.

A freedom of information request submitted to the university earlier this year showed that the university also has ten staff who are paid less than the Living Wage Foundations recommended living wage of £8.45 an hour, with the vice chancellor receiving 17.5 times more pay than the lowest paid employee.

Last week the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, called for reforms which would require universities to justify any salaries of more than £150,000.

This week the Falmouth University's head of communications Robert Hillier told the Packet that 63 other vice chancellors were paid more than Professor Carlisle, whose salary is decided by a remuneration committee.

He also said that while Professor Carlisle sat on the committee, she "is not involved in any discussions concerning her own pay."

Asked how the university justified the current salary, which represents a 34 per cent increase since 2010/11, he listed accolades including Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework, with the university ranked ninth in the UK, a sixth-place ranking for student experience, an Entrepreneurship Prize at the Guardian Education Awards and the creation of the Launchpad programme for entrepreneurs.

He said: "There are more students studying at Falmouth University, and more from Cornwall, than at any time in our 115 year history. Our commitment to helping them get the career they want has never been greater. Our course portfolio now reflects the creative industries, the fastest growing sector of the UK economy, which forms a key part of Cornwall’s strategy to create a modern, high-wage, high-value economy."

He added that in the same period a lecturer at the university "may have accrued a salary increase of 29 per cent," although asked about the pay gaps between the vice chancellor and her median and low paid employees, he said: "I don’t understand your point here."

When questioned about recent information from the Sunday Times which suggests average wages for new graduates at Falmouth are among the worst in the country at £16,800, around half that of the top universities,

Mr Hillier said the figures were "Fake Economics."

He said: "Falmouth University is building a new generation of technology starts ups, designed to grow quickly and attract substantial external investment. We are in the top ten of UK universities, in producing self-employed graduates who go on to set up companies in the high growth creative and digital industries.

"The figures produced by The Times are wrong and we don’t know how they were worked out, but we can only assume they are based on out-of-date methodology based solely on PAYE returns."

But critics have also pointed to the recent closure of the university's contemporary crafts course and the suspension of the arts foundation diploma: a low-fee course aimed which prepares students for a full arts degree, and which was temporarily closed as too costly to the university. Instead the institution has introduced courses such as an MA in leasing and asset finance.

Research from investigate journalism site Cornwall Reports, working on a confidential staff survey from the UCU, revealed a "culture of bullying" and a "climate of fear," with staff allegedly suspended for speaking out against the university or even just liking social media posts which present the company in a negative light.

It was also reported that nine in ten staff felt they would risk their jobs if they questioned senior management while around 97 per felt undervalued. And the university also spent almost £800,000 in 'compromise agreements' which saw the departure of 31 staff since 2011.

Mr Hillier said there was "no evidence" for low morale at the university, which "runs counter not only to our last staff survey, but also to the recent university wide consultation around our new long term strategic direction."

He added it "should not be surprising that staff re-organsiation has incurred costs," while far from using confidentiality agreements to silence staff they were "often drawn up at the request of the departing employee, and the figures included voluntary redundancies - which runs counter to the claims of the UCU.

He concluded: "The university has never employed more staff than it does today."