Bett panel allays national pay fears

September 17, 1999

Members of the Bett committee on academic pay have attempted to allay concerns that the introduction of a national pay scale would reduce institutional flexibility.

Workshops were full to overflowing as university heads queued up to listen to the options and air their concerns. One vice-chancellor complained that the Bett recommendations were ill-conceived and the sector was being bounced into presenting a united front to gain any government money for increasing salaries.

Another said he paid top salaries to attract the best academics and that he would rather shed staff than be unable to retain the best.

Philip Love of the University of Liverpool, who chairs the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said that under the Bett proposals staff in certain subject areas could be paid more than others.

"We have a world-class higher education system, but we need to ensure that we will be in the same position in five years' time by recruiting the best people. If we want the best people, we may have to pay academics more in subject areas such as computer science, engineering, law, accountancy and business," said Professor Love.

However, the pay gap between women and men must be removed, he added. "We have to demonstrate equal pay for equal value work and that requires proper job evaluation. UCEA has devised a higher education role analysis to enable employers to evaluate jobs," he said.

"Bett is the only show in town and the sector as a whole has got to pull together to convince the government to put money into implementing the Bett recommendations," he concluded.

Responses from the workshops will feed into the UCEA's final response to the Bett recommendations, due in December. "Bett is not cast in tablets of stone," said Professor Love.

The CVCP has agreed to establish a working party with other representative bodies to look at the feasibility of setting up an independent review panel for whistleblowers in higher education.

The panel would deal with whistleblowers who had exhausted universities' internal complaints procedures and were still dissatisfied. Its members would include former university staff.

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