Letter: Angry reaction to government veto of universities' pay settlement

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am writing in connection with the recent decision by the Government to block the pay settlement for university teachers ('Universities angered by pay deal veto', 17 July).

I notice that Nigel Forman, the minister responsible for further and higher education, in his justification of this action did not repeat the catch-phrase of the Thatcher years, namely, recruitment, retention and motivation - he missed out the bit about motivation. Surely the minister must realise that university teachers are not going to be jumping for joy at seeing their pay fall even further behind in the non-manual workers league table.

Of course most staff will stay, there are not many other jobs to go to. Of course people will still apply for academic jobs - there are not many others advertised. But the best will not stay nor seek to join. Standards will just fall even further than they already have.

I know that senior academics always deny standards have fallen, despite the policies deliberately designed to destroy higher education of the last 13 years. However, they only say such things out of fear - the fear that potential students will not apply for any institution that admits to having falling standards.

But there is no doubt that academics spend more time trying to attract funding and less time teaching students than they used to, so students learn less. It is an inevitable process of decline and one which will continue until the Government recognises the importance of higher education to the nation.

The minister is an MP; he must have a rare brand of bare-faced cheek to deny us a small attempt to halt the decline in our pay, especially as the concept of an expense allowance must make every academic laugh.

I spend quite a lot of my income in support of my job, with no hope that the university I work at will reimburse me.



Caversham, Reading

17 July