Increase of more than 25 per cent over six years is greater than the rest of public sector. Melanie Newman reports. Academics' pay has risen more than a quarter since 2001, according to government figures.
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings from the Office of National Statistics shows that full-time academics earned an average of £42,620 in the year to April 2007.
The figures show that higher education staff earn £10,000 more than lecturers in further education and £8,000 more than secondary schoolteachers.
The countrywide average professional salary is £38,840. The average for all employees is £29,999.
The Universities and Colleges Employers Association said the increase showed that academic pay had risen 25.8 per cent since the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff was set up in 2001.
Since April 2007, when the ONS figures were recorded, university academics have received an additional 3 per cent pay increase, Ucea said.
A spokesman said: "The benefits of the current 13.1 per cent, three-year pay deal are set to continue, with an additional 3 per cent increase in May 2008 and a further 2.5 per cent, or retail price index, whichever is greater, from October 2008."
These pay awards were much higher than those in other parts of the public sector for which 2007-08 increases had already been announced, he added.
The University and College Union said Ucea did not deserve any credit for the pay rises.
In 2006, Jocelyn Prudence, Ucea's chief executive, said the pay rise on offer at that time - 6 per cent over two years - would "top £45,000 a year from summer 2007". The union pointed out that under the final negotiated package of 13.1 per cent over three years, the summer 2007 average pay for academics is less than £44,000.
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary, said: "Any recent improvements to staff pay are a direct result of the union dragging the employers kicking and screaming to make decent offers. Without union action the employers would have sought to increase salaries by less than half the final settlement, so it is a little rich to find them waxing lyrical about them a year after staff fought so hard to secure them."
Ms Hunt added that, although academics had done better than other public- sector staff, different groups should not be played off against each other.
"The real issue is that educational professionals across the board have been badly paid for years," she said.
"Last year's bitter pay dispute went some way to addressing decades of decline that had seen academic salaries drop massively in relative terms with comparable professions, including teachers, and across the public sector, but there is still some way to go."