One favourable pay deal - at the Open University (back page) - and the prospect of another at Manchester University are not enough for firm conclusions to be reached about the value of local bargaining to academics.
National agreements have been too precious for too long for unions to consider their abandonment. But the two deals offer hope to those who backed last spring's controversial settlement that they secured the best of both worlds: a national framework with scope for local flexibility. In particular, low-paid junior academics appear to be benefiting - to the tune of 15 per cent at the OU. With signs of a thaw emerging from Nottingham University (if not at London Metropolitan University), the prospect of improved industrial relations across higher education appears better than for a number of years. The next step - which now appears within reach - should be the creation of a single union for academics.