Academic pay lagging behind public and private sectors

June 6, 1997

Only the pay of academic-related and library staff in old universities holds up when measured against comparable jobs in the public and private sectors, according to the Hay Management Consultants' study which we report on page 1.

The study revealed that academic teaching staff in the old universities (professors, readers and lecturers) averaged 16.2 per cent less than private sector equivalents and 9.2 per cent below the public sector average. The equivalent figures for teaching staff in the new universities showed a gap of 19 per cent and 12.25 per cent.

Compared to lawyers in the private sector, academics, excluding researchers, in old universities were 22.5 per cent adrift. Compared to private sector engineers they were 15.2 per cent down while they were 17.8 per cent down on accountants and 10 per cent down on scientists.

The equivalent average figures for the public sector professions were 15.2 per cent, 11.4 per cent, 11.2 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.

Research staff in the old universities fared marginally better earning, 8.6 per cent less on average than private sector equivalents and 2.4 per cent less than those in the public sector. But these figures disguise the fact that researchers on the two lowest grades earned up to 22.5 per cent less than they might in the private sector and 21 per cent less than if they worked in the public sector.

The picture is particularly grim for researchers in the new universities. The two grades of researchers combined, which are equivalent to the two lowest grades in the old universities, were 36.5 per cent behind average private sector pay and 35.5 per cent behind the public sector.

Academic-related administrative and library staff in old universities were the only group to earn more than their public and private counterparts. This group averaged 3.5 per cent above comparable private sector pay and 9.3 per cent above the public sector.

Figures for the administrative, professional, technical and clerical staff grouping in new universities were 16.5 per cent and 11.1 per cent less than their private and public equivalents respectively.

The gap between pay in the old and new universities is most noticeable for manual staff. A warehouse worker in an old university earns about Pounds 7,200 a year while a counterpart in a new university would be on just over Pounds 8,000. Porters are paid approximately Pounds 7,600 in old universities but could boost their salaries by nearly Pounds 700 a year by moving to a former polytechnic.

In general, manual staff on the lowest grade in old universities earn just 58 per cent of the Council of Europe's decency threshold.

Manual workers in old universities earn 15.6 per cent less than they might in the external private and public sectors with those in new universities nearly 10 per cent down. Staff on the lowest grade in new universities earn only 83 per cent of the decency threshold on average.

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