Rights and wrongs of university pay points 1

March 20, 2008

The danger of making pay comparisons over time ("How much are you worth?", 13 March) is highlighted in my own career.

I was appointed to a foundation social science chair at the University of Southampton in 1980. I was relatively young and did not know I could "negotiate" my salary, so I accepted being at the bottom of the scale - then £13,500.

Nonetheless, I bought a superb home in the best part of Southampton, and my junior professor's salary was a quarter of the value of the house. Of course house prices have risen disproportionately but, when I technically retired aged 65 in 2001 and in the top 5 per cent of professors' salaries in Southampton, the value of my home was then seven times the amount of a senior professor's salary. Today, new young non-clinical professors generally could not afford to buy my house.

It is also worth pointing out that earlier in my career, in 1970, my professor got paid as much as a Cabinet minister.

All that said, however, having a research chair must be among the best jobs in the world, as maturity brings with it creativity and enthusiasm and my publication record has never been better.

Colin Pritchard, Research professor, School of Health and Social Care, Bournemouth University.

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