Alan Ryan: Why I'm paying our tutors more money

Everyone knows that over the past 30 years academic pay has slipped compared with similar white-collar occupations. In the Sixties, a professor made much the same as an under-secretary in the civil service, a keeper at the British Museum, a GP, or a solicitor in mid-career.

Now, the professor is looking at £45,000 and the others at twice that. Many professors make very much more than £45,000, of course, particularly if they take advantage of their bargaining power while the Research Assessment Exercise is in full swing. But, just as £45,000 is the starting point for professors, the bottom of the comparable civil service scale is £89,000, while junior solicitors in City firms get £40,000 a year after qualification and go on from there.

Last October, the lecturers' unions asked for a substantial rise to close the gap a bit. The vice-chancellors said they couldn't afford it. Presumably, they meant that if they had the money, they'd spend it on faculty pay. So I'm surprised that when New College managed to find some more money a year ago and used it to improve faculty pay, colleagues elsewhere griped about it. Something I've never understood about Oxford - actually, about British academic life generally - is why so many people are happy with equal misery, but deeply upset if anyone else strikes it lucky. It is one of the sharpest contrasts between British and American academia.

Oxford faculty - Cambridge, too - do things for their colleges that they wouldn't have to do elsewhere. They share the administrative burdens of running a workers' co-operative - more politely, an "academic democracy" - while tutorial faculty also teach a lot, and have heavier pastoral and social duties than in other institutions.

It's not easy to recruit good people who can earn more elsewhere for a less demanding job. So, we have given everyone who plays some part in running the college £2,500 a year (much like several other colleges), and we have given tutors another £7,500 a year for the duties peculiar to their jobs; we can afford it, but we will have to think again if there is a miracle and employers restore the former value of academic salaries.

An extra £10,000 a year puts up the pay of a world-class scholar aged 30 from that of a middling secretary in the City of London to that of a director's PA - from around £26,000 to £36,000 a year. That's also the bottom of the lecturers' pay scale that Imperial College established a few years ago. The top of the scale is about £21,000 higher, and while £57,000 is more than the £50,000 that financial consultants were offering last week to the sharpest of their 22-year-old entrants, it compares badly with the £90,000 that a bright 45-year-old would expect in the civil service, let alone what a really high flyer might get.

It is not relevant that the vice-chancellor of Oxford earns £200,000 and the Registrar £165,000. What is relevant is that a college that helps younger faculty helps the wider university. The university can't be a centre of high-grade teaching and research unless it can recruit and retain high-grade faculty. Under the pressure of the RAE, Oxford and all universities are paying many people far more than £10,000 a year extra to keep them or acquire them from elsewhere. To the extent that a college helps recruitment, it helps the university.

Is it unfair that some colleges can afford to pay more than others? It is; it's unfair in the same way that it's unfair that some businesses can pay more than others and that some occupations can pay more. New College owned some land, and after 12 years of very hard work, got planning permission to put up a lot of houses, so the endowment is larger and so too, therefore, is the income it produces. Half a dozen other colleges are at different stages of the same process. But Oxford also has some badly off colleges. It is partly a matter of luck which college you teach at, so you can see why people think it's unfair that some do better than others. But it is only partly a matter of luck. Nobody has to work in Oxford. If they don't like it, they have a remedy.

Realistically, not everyone in a badly off college is individually badly off - clinical faculty are paid much more than non-clinical faculty, and business school salaries are not at all bad. Nor does anything a college can do make anything like the difference that inheriting a house or acquiring a high-earning partner does. I've not heard anyone wanting to share those windfalls with their colleagues, or even the incomes from consultancy that scientists can earn and humanists can't.

Still, anyone who is the wage-earner in a single-earner household, who works in a humanities department and is attached to a non-prosperous college can decently complain that they've drawn the short straw. Having complained, they should take the next step: get a different job.

The writer is warden of New College Oxford

education@independent.co.uk

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

SEN Teacher

£36000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced SEN Teacher n...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Experienced TA's urgently...

Business StudiesTeacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Supply Business Studies Teacher...

English Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher - CaerphillyT...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?