Letter: Give just rewards for work (1)

January 12, 2001

Before performance-related pay is introduced in higher education ("Performance pay strings divide sector", THES, January 5), we should look at other sectors where it has been introduced to see if it achieves its aims.

It was introduced in the National Health Service in the 1980s to improve service by rewarding good management. At root, problems in the health service - as in education - have arisen because a great increase in public expectations of the service has not been matched by a rise in resources. No amount of performance-related pay can change the fact that hospitals are dirty because funding has been continually eroded.

Both the Dearing and the Bett committees insisted that their recommendations needed appropriate funding. The government, with the initial acceptance of what was then the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, chose to ignore both reports.

Higher education has delivered what it promised in the late 1980s - higher participation without a drop in quality. I cannot identify any industry that has had the same success - a success that is still unrewarded. It is also a success that was achieved without performance-related pay. Could it be that workers in higher education are motivated by something other than money?

Like the Pied Piper, workers in universities just want a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. Perhaps the burghers in Westminster should be reminded of the story.

Robin Thomas
Putnoe, Bedford

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