Alistair Jarvis dismisses attacks on tuition fees and executive pay, saying they are based on misinformation and malice.

Critics of British universities including Andrew Adonis are peddling “misinformation, muddled argument and even a little malicious intent,” according to the head of a group representing UK vice-chancellors.

Alistair Jarvis, the newly appointed chief executive of Universities UK, did not name the former education minister directly but his call for institutions to fight back follows a summer of criticism from Lord Adonis in the media.

“In the UK, it seems to be open season on universities. Whether it is attacks on the value of a degree, problems with the tuition fees system, senior staff being overpaid, or problems with international students: universities are this summer’s scapegoat of choice,” Jarvis said.

“Whether it is open season or silly season, it has attracted the attention of some prominent commentators, who have taken time out from their summer breaks to catalogue the litany of failings in our university sector.”