Bett: the proposals

May 21, 1999

This is a summary of recommendations in the draft report from the Bett committee on pay and conditions in higher education. The final report is expected next month.


* It is essential that comprehensive data on the numbers and pay of academic and non-academic staff are collected on a regular and systematic basis.

Future mechanisms and determination of pay and conditions

* The HE system should retain a broad national framework for determination of pay and conditions of service, aiming to embrace all HE institutions, but with freedom within the framework for individual institutions to adapt the detail.

* The present ten negotiating arrangements should be replaced by a National Council, with members from all the main organisations representing employers and staff throughout UK higher education.

* The National Council should have substantial negotiating, consultative and advisory functions on an agreed range of employment-related matters, including future developments in the staffing needs of the sector.

* From the outset, the National Council should have two sub-councils: one for academic staff and one for non-academic staff. To start with, the academic sub-council's coverage should be limited to teachers, researchers and others whose primary function is to contribute to student learning.

* The main negotiating/consultation responsibility should rest with the National Council, but it would be expected to delegate those matters affecting only staff covered by one of the sub-councils to that sub-council.

* In the first instance, pay bargaining should be conducted in the sub-councils but this approach should be reviewed by the National Council after three years' experience of its operation.

* There should be a neutral independent chairperson for the National Council and its sub-councils, with the parties being involved jointly in his/her selection and in the determination of his/her terms of service.

* The National Council should have an independent secretariat with important data-gathering functions, perhaps provided by the Office of Manpower Economics.

* In certain agreed areas it may be appropriate for the National Council to take on a representational or lobbying role in its own right.

* The Sub-Council for Academic Staff should constitute a special committee to deal with pay and conditions for clinical academic staff. This will need to include additional representatives of the British Medical Association and the British Dental Association.

* A Scottish Committee should be established to advise the National Council and sub-councils on the Scottish dimension of issues they are considering, and to consider (and, if appropriate, determine) pay and conditions matters limited to Scotland in fields agreed by the National Council and/or its sub-councils.

* There will also be a need for mechanisms for negotiation and consultation between management and staff in each institution. The precise nature of these should be decided locally.

Pay structures

* The National Council mechanisms should consider introducing closely linked pay spines: one for academic staff restricted to teachers, researchers and others whose primary function is to contribute directly to student learning; and one for non-academic staff; with benchmarking between staff on the two spines using common systems for job evaluation.

* The details of the two linked pay spines should be negotiated in the sub-councils, but the National Council will have an important oversight role in the initial design of the spines and in subsequent monitoring of their interrelation.

* The National Council and sub-councils should consider issuing guidelines on the application of these closely linked pay spines at institutional level.

* There are strong arguments for retention of a national grading framework for academic staff.

* It would be useful for the Academic Sub-Council to issue some non-prescriptive national guidance on promotion criteria and procedures for academic staff.

* The negotiators should consider a pay structure for academic staff with five grades reflecting the Hay evidence on job size; and with progression determined by length of service (up to four years), relevant qualifications (including Institute for Learning and Teaching membership), additional responsibilities, and merit and achievement (see table).

* The Non-academic Sub-Council should consider issuing guidance on alternative pay structures for non-academic staff - including on an eight-plus grade structure reflecting the Hay findings on job size and on how institutions might devise their own broad-band structure.

* The pay structure for non-academic staff should include rewards for merit and achievement, responsibilities and acquired competences, as well as valuing experience gained in the first few years' service in a grade.

* The non-academic pay structure should include arrangements for those senior non-academic staff whose salaries will require benchmarking against the pay and grading arrangements agreed for academic staff.

* There should be detailed guidance on transition to new pay structures, protecting staff rights under current agreements but also reflecting the key features and nature of new structures.

* Job evaluation, or some other job analysis and ranking system, will be essential for the sorts of reforms to pay structures outlined.

* HE institutions will need flexibility to respond to market factors where pay rates vary significantly from national norms in particular locations or for particular sets of competences. The reasons for such additional payments should be transparent and the need for continued payment should be reviewed periodically.

* There should be a common date for the implementation of national pay settlements. August 1 seems the most promising.

* The pay and conditions of universities' and colleges' senior management should continue to be settled at institutional level, though with greater transparency of process than is presently the norm.


* If reforms of pay structures are agreed and the government is persuaded of the need for increased investment in HE staff, by 2002 the minimum rates for academic staff should be of the order of the figures suggested (see table) and the minimum rates for non-academic staff should be equivalent to the figures suggested.*

* In particular: The minimum rate for ILT members might be, say, Pounds 1,000 higher than for other academic staff; There is a need for a significant increase in starting salaries for young lecturers; There is a need to offer professors and equivalent senior academic managers rewards more commensurate with the weight of their responsibilities; Pay levels for non-academic staff should aim to redress large disparities with market rates for equivalent jobs, especially at the lower end of the HE salary spectrum (for manual and junior clerical and technical staff).

* The level of and mechanism for the necessary premium for HE staff in London should be negotiated in the National Council. It may be necessary for the Higher Education Funding Council for England to review the additional cost allowance included in its funding of universities and colleges in London.

Conditions of service

* The National Council should seek to negotiate a common core of minimum conditions of service to which all staff in higher education would be entitled, covering holidays, special leave, sick pay, maternity benefits, access to grievance procedures, trade union duties, and health and safety consultation.

* The common core of minimum conditions should be implemented via local institution-level negotiations, within a deadline set by the National Council.

* The National Council should look positively at shortening the working week for manual staff and harmonising it with whatever is agreed for other non-academic staff, with an implementation period not exceeding three years and applied in such a way that part-time staff gain an equivalent benefit.

* There should be a common baseline of working time arrangements for all academic staff that offer safeguards against overload and help to protect quality, with greater detail being negotiated locally to match the circumstances of individual institutions.

* The common core of minimum conditions should apply equally, on a pro rata basis, to all regular part-time staff.

* There is scope for many HE institutions to reduce their use of fixed-term and casual employment.

* HE institutions should be prepared to offer redundancy pay to staff on fixed-term contracts of more than a year.

* All pre-1992 universities should reexamine their statutes with a view to seeking approval for amendments that eliminate impediments to good management while maintaining proper safeguards for academic freedom and individuals.

* Institutions should examine the continuing justification for differences in arrangements for redundancy pay for academics and non-academic staff.

* Superannuation arrangements should be considered further by all the interested parties - looking in detail at various long-term options, and identifying interim steps to reduce apparent inequities.


* HE staff in Scotland should be covered by a common framework for determining pay and conditions of service across the different parts of the UK system, with incorporation of the Scottish conference sector.

* Pay structures for academic and non-academic staff in Scotland should be determined as part of the new UK-wide framework, with a common settlement date.

* The proposed core of minimum conditions of service should create a common foundation across HE in Scotland, within the wider UK framework.

Clinical academics

* The automatic link between the salary scales of clinical academics and those of National Health Service doctors and dentists is absolutely fundamental to universities' ability to recruit and retain sufficient clinical academics of the right calibre, and should be continued.

* It should continue to be a condition of grant that the funding councils enable HE institutions with medical and dental schools to meet additional costs arising from pay awards for NHS clinicians, as long as the necessary funding is included in the government's allocations to the funding councils.

* Employers and staff representatives should reopen discussions on the agreed, but not implemented, twelfth point on the pay scale for clinical lecturers.

* Those involved in considering reforms to the NHS distinction award scheme should seek to avoid an outcome that disadvantages clinical academics in comparison with their NHS counterparts.

* It is not sensible that academic GPs continue to be excluded from the distinction awards scheme.

* Medical and dental schools should be prepared to relax restrictions on private practice where the benefits to recruitment or retention of clinical academics would outweigh the risks to delivery of teaching, research and NHS service.

* Medical and dental schools should monitor disparities in the terms and conditions of clinical academics as compared with those offered by the NHS, and should be prepared to act flexibly where that would help in addressing recruitment and retention difficulties.

* There is scope for wider sharing of good practice, and perhaps for national guidance, on the arrangements for clinical academic staff to receive additional duties hours allowance.

* Medical and dental schools should take steps to achieve greater clarity between NHS clinical and academic contractual responsibilities - with effective liaison arrangements between academic and NHS managers, and a further look at the possibility of single-contract employment for clinical academics.

* All relevant parties should re-examine the implications for clinical academics of the arrangements for completion of specialist training in the NHS, with a view to removing disincentives in pursuit of a clinical academic career in combination with specialist training .

Management and staffdevelopment

* The management of people needs to be given greater priority at all levels of the HE system - including by government departments, by the funding councils (which should consider promoting an initiative to improve people management), by institutions' governing bodies and senior management (who need well-planned people strategies alongside academic and resource strategies) and by personnel departments (bolstered where necessary).

* Staff representatives may need time away from their normal work and, in some cases, appropriate training.

* There is a need, across the sector and in most institutions, for greater investment of time and resources in the training and development of all groups of staff, including part-time staff and those on fixed contracts - particularly as regards management training, membership of the ILT, professional and occupational training, exploitation of information and communications technologies.

* All universities and HE colleges should seek Investors in People accreditation.

* HE institutions should review present arrangements and put in place effective appraisal schemes for all staff.

* Each university and HE college should have, and publish, a clear statement of its policies on equal opportunities and of the steps it is taking to ensure equality for women and ethnic minorities.

* Institutions should consider including targets appropriate to their own circumstances in the equal opportunities policies they publish. The National Council may have an important role in guiding and monitoring progress in this area.

Financial implications

* Additional funding will be needed from public and other sources: To avert serious risk to the quality of teaching and research and the plans for widening access, if the sector is to meet its statutory obligations on equal pay; To implement our recommendations aimed at recruiting and retaining staff of the right calibre to deliver the world-class higher education that the UK needs in the 21st century.

* The report suggests appropriate minimum pay rates in 2002 in round figures might be for each new pay grade: Pounds 11,000; Pounds 11,500; Pounds 12,500; Pounds 14,000; Pounds 15,500, Pounds 17,500, Pounds 20,000; Pounds 21,500; Pounds 22,500, with higher levels benchmarked against the academic pay spine.

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