19=. Kings College London: The second newcomer from the UK to the top 20, it can lay claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829. / Jamesmh2006/Wiki Commons


King’s College London announced it will pay at least the London Living Wage to all staff for all new contracts and will renegotiate existing ones immediately.

The decision to raise the lowest wage it pays to £8.80 per hour was made on Tuesday after a long-fought battle from the student-led KCL Living Wage campaign and the student union KCLSU.

King’s Principal Rick Trainor said in a statement yesterday: “The College has now considered all the legal and financial issues relating to the payment of the London Living Wage to contract staff.

“We recognise the strength of feeling within the College community on this subject and have reached the conclusion that this is the right thing to do. We intend to move forward as rapidly as possible.”

The announcement is a significant win for the College cleaners, many of whom live below the poverty line, leaving some unable to feed their children.

King’s committed to LLW for directly employed staff in November 2010, but controversially outsourced the cleaning contract to Office and General in the same month.

At this stage it’s unclear how long renegotiations of current contracts might take, but KCLSU president Sebastiaan Debrouwere told the Independent he will push for a reasonable timeframe.

He said: “This is a huge victory for students, staff and the institution. Fair pay is going to change the lives of hundreds of subcontracted staff at King's and their families. On a London level, it's a small but significant step towards ending in-work poverty.

"Across the country, there is a growing movement in support of Living Wage. I'm proud that our institution is convincingly adding its voice to that sea-change.”

King’s decision is part of a wider trend of universities moving to higher pay for their lowest earners, including Birmingham university, which committed to the Living Wage earlier this week.