The funding council insists that the new money it plans to put into pay must be on a "something for something" basis, and that this means performance related pay - with the establishment of institution-wide machinery for assessing performance and doling out cash.
But it turns out that the funding council's "something" is minute - Pounds 50 million in the coming academic year. This is less than £500,000 per institution, which will not encourage the establishment of complex new staff appraisal systems. Even after three years the sum will be only £170 million, about 3 per cent of staff costs.
But the real objection to the proposal is that academics have already delivered their side of this bargain and received little reward for doing so. The Bett report shows that there is too little money for academics. The funding councils' political masters like to see the small sums of new cash going into higher education being micro-managed to create the impression of better academic achievement. But the sector's election year task is to press the case for better academic pay, not to rewrite an existing reward system that contains too little cash in the first place.