Lecturers attack plan for performance-related pay

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The Independent Online

Performance-related pay for university staff is likely to be introduced in a drive to raise standards and ease the "brain drain" of senior academics.

Performance-related pay for university staff is likely to be introduced in a drive to raise standards and ease the "brain drain" of senior academics.

Lecturers condemned the plans as divisive and ineffective. The proposals, drawn up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, would make annual appraisals a condition of £330m in grants to fund higher academic salaries.

The extra funding, worth £50m this year, £110m next year and £170m in 2003, was announced as part of the Government's spending review to help recruit and keep staff, and modernise higher education. Under the plan, universities will be free to draw up their own performance pay schemes, to be approved by the funding council.

However the proposals, which follow controversy over introducing performance pay in schools, make clear that ministers expect a marked improvement in the productivity of academics as part of the deal.

Under the plans, extra money would only be released if universities drew up "human resource strategies" to include "annual performance reviews of all staff, based on open and objective criteria, with rewards connected to the performance of individuals".

Universities will also have to take "action to tackle poor performance". Other parts of the plan include targets for solving recruitment problems and improving staff training.

Vice-chancellors would also have to develop equal opportunities plans to remove inequalities between the pay of male and female academics. All universities will have to submit plans by June, and have new pay schemes in place by 2002. They have until 12 February to respond to the proposals.

Union leaders expressed anger at the plans yesterday. Malcolm Keight, assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said performance pay would be divisive and damage vital academic collaboration.

He said: "It's all very well paying awards to people seen to be particularly outstanding, provided people are all getting their just income to begin with. That's not the situation.

"There's an overwhelming problem of inadequate pay across the board from porters to professors."

Tom Wilson, head of higher education at the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, which represents staff in the "new" universities, warned that the proposals could break up national pay bargaining. But he welcomed efforts to reduce the pay gap between men and women. He said: "Universities need to have a defence against equal value claims - at the moment they are simply breaking equality regulations."

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