Laurie Taylor column

September 10, 2004

From : The Office of the Vice-Chancellor
To : All Academic Staff

I understand that questions have been raised about academic pay at Poppleton after an analysis by The Times Higher of average salaries in UK universities.

This appeared (see table) to show that Poppleton's average was the lowest in the country.





















There is certainly a superficial indication here that Poppleton treats its academic staff less generously than other universities. However, a number of key factors need to be taken into consideration before these figures can be taken at face value.

1. Reputation . Close inspection of the analysis indicates that the results are contaminated by the omission of a "reputation allowance". It seems that those places that enjoy high academic prestige and an attractive setting are able to lure staff who might not otherwise be prepared to work for such modest remuneration. In the list above, this reputation factor is clearly at work in the case of both Oxford and Poppleton.

2. Market Forces . Also missing from the analysis is any consideration of the salaries that might be earned by the academics if they were fully exposed to market forces. A recent survey of Poppleton concluded that more than 45 per cent of academic staff would be "very lucky indeed" to obtain a job outside the groves of academe. In these circumstances an average salary of £20,877 looks positively generous.

3. The Whole Question of Women . Although at first sight, the figures suggest that female academics at Poppleton are paid 24.9 per cent less than their male counterparts, this needs to be tempered by the further statistical news that this is 4.24 per cent lower than the gap that existed in 1974. If this improvement is maintained in future years, then female staff at Poppleton should obtain that equality of salary that is their inalienable human right relatively early in the next century.

I hope this clarifies the situation. The Vice-Chancellor (£248,567). Signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth (£9,876).

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