'Comfortable' life is based on two jobs: Universities face shortage of lecturers but are unable to attract more while salaries remain low

ALAN WATON, 45, head of the sociology department at Bradford University, earns only marginally more than the average university lecturer: pounds 25,000 plus a pounds 2,000 allowance for his management responsibilities, writes Julia Hagedorn.

He has 20 years' experience as a lecturer, and is in charge of 17 staff, four researchers, seven secretaries, a pounds 700,000 annual budget and more than 300 students. At that level of responsibility in a secondary school he would earn at least pounds 1,500 more. Although his official working week is 35 hours, he says he usually works between 55 and 60 hours.

Mr Waton is fortunate. His wife is a primary school teacher earning pounds 20,000. Without her salary, the couple and their two boys, aged 11 and 12, would feel the pinch. 'Our life-style is comfortable, but it is based on two full-time jobs.'

They are lucky in that they bought their house in 1971 before prices rose. Their first mortgage was only pounds 3,000 and even in their present house, worth pounds 120,000, the mortgage is only pounds 40,000. If he were starting from scratch, there is no way he could afford to buy a similar home now, he says. 'My colleagues coming into the profession in the last 10 years are in a very different position from those of us who came in 20 years ago when it was a job with good prospects.'

Mr Waton chose university teaching because he enjoyed it and thought it important. 'Had I known that I would end up as a manager in a fairly responsible position, I am not sure that I would have chosen it. Had I chosen to go into commerce or industry, I would have been doing a similar kind of job and would have been paid much more.'

(Photograph omitted)