Academics' pay faces shake-up

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The Independent Online
PERFORMANCE-RELATED pay could be introduced into universities as part of the most radical reform of higher education salaries for a generation.

An independent review of university pay rates calls for an injection of around pounds 380 million in Government money to end inequalities and award some academics rises of up to 20 per cent above inflation.

Proposals put forward by Sir Michael Bett, the civil service commissioner chairing the inquiry, include replacing the current maze of age-related pay scales with pay rises "to reward merit and achievement", assessed each year. Pay rises of pounds 1,000 are also proposed for staff who qualify to join the new body set up to regulate university teaching standards.

Sir Michael's report recommends substantial pay rises for professors and the lowest paid researchers as part of a wholesale reform of pay scales.

Minimum pay rates for professors would rise 30 per cent from pounds 35,000 to pounds 46,500. Starting salaries for new academics would also rise - from about pounds 15,000 to pounds 20,000. But most rank-and-file lecturers, who are threatening a boycott of admissions in support of a 10 per cent pay claim, will get little.

The report's 61 recommendations include action to reduce the number of casual staff in universities, and setting up a national council to replace the "current jumble" of arrangements for negotiating pay and conditions.

The report highlighted stark disparities between the pay of men and women in universities. Employers promised action to address the problem, but warned of job losses and other cuts if ministers did not increase funding to meet the potential demand for pay rises.

Sir Michael called for a "three-way deal" between universities, staff and the Government. He said: "Most groups of university and college staff are paid less than their counterparts elsewhere in the public sector and significantly less than those in equivalent jobs in the private sector.

"Implementing our recommendations without extra funding would pose serious risks to the quality of teaching and research."

Lecturers welcomed the report, but warned they would not accept pay linked to teaching or research assessments.