Academics hit jackpot in education career stakes

April 13, 2007

Academe is where the money is if you want to be an educationalist.

The finding may come as a surprise to many academics, but research from Reading University, presented at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference this week, shows that teachers and further education lecturers earn less than their opposite numbers in academe.

But the study, by James Walker at Reading University Business School and Anna Vignoles at the Institute of Education, also shows that academics work longer hours than the average graduate and earn about 3 per cent less.

Dr Walker identified the size of the gap in hourly earnings between academics and graduates in a range of comparable occupations after taking into account individual differences of those who go into different professions such as their gender, ethnicity and education level.

On average, the team revealed, academics earn 17 per cent less than other similarly qualified individuals in the accountancy profession, 23 per cent less than lawyers, 24 per cent less than doctors and 49 per cent less than dentists.

With the exception of doctors, who worked about 51 hours per week in 2004, academics had a longer working week (at 47 hours) than graduates in ten other professions. The average graduate worked 44 hours per week.

The researchers said: "Academic pay is an important policy issue because if the relative pay of academics falls, it is likely to lead to lower quality individuals entering and remaining in the profession as well as a 'brain drain' to countries that reward academics more highly."

They added: "As pay in the higher education sector is largely not determined by a free labour market, there is a risk that relative wages for academics may decline further."

The study did not consider the non-pecuniary benefits available from working as an academic, such as the ability to work flexible hours or the greater intrinsic interest that academics have in their work than some other professionals.

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