Staff costs remain steady

September 11, 2008

Your article "Finances top list of threats to the health of UK sector" (4 September) includes the assertion from Grant Thornton that for universities, "pay is somewhere between 60 and 70 per cent of education costs". This is a gross overestimate.

Our calculations, based on figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, show for the past three available years that expenditure on staff costs has remained steady at 58 per cent of total higher education expenditure, and in their latest financial forecasts English higher education institutions have projected it staying at that level until 2010-11.

Any gains that have been made in staff pay have been mostly opposed by the employers. University and College Union members had to fight hard to secure their pay rises during the bitter dispute of two years ago. Staff know that if we had left it to the whims of employers, university staff would have received lower increases each year and little protection against current inflation. The final settlement was not a secret deal and universities have had two years to prepare for what they negotiated.

Times Higher Education readers will no doubt share UCU's concern about the financial acumen of any institution that has failed to budget properly for these increases.

Sally Hunt, General secretary, University and College Union.

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