Two sides of debate 1

March 24, 2006

The article comparing employers' and unions' claims ("Round one: employers and unions square up", March 17) clearly illustrates the different approaches taken by the two sides to the use of data.

The unions sometimes appear reluctant to state the sources of their data or the years to which they apply. And The Times Higher seems to have accepted their figures unquestioningly. For example, the unions' claim of a 40 per cent decline in salaries in real terms has been widely quoted but never adequately explained. Similarly, their use of Higher Education StatisticsAgency data to provide figures for the average academic salary - undated, but apparently for 2003-04 - means that effective comparisons with earnings outside the sector cannot be made. The employers' use of more recent Office of National Statistics' data allows for such comparisons.

Unless readers can see what lies beneath the headlines, such stories will do little to enlighten.

Matt Grainger Universities and Colleges Employers' Association

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