Cambridge creates senior lecturer post

December 12, 1997

Cambridge University intends to promote 40 per cent of its lecturers to a new post of senior lecturer, at an initial cost of Pounds 750,000, to quell protests over its record for promoting academic staff.

Staff at Cambridge, led by lecturer Gill Evans, have complained that the university's lecturers are "embarrassingly undervalued". Each year, about 30 staff are promoted to readerships and just ten to professorships. The university has admitted that it cannot afford to promote all who deserve it.

This week, "a clear majority" of Cambridge staff have come out in favour of the senior lecturer post, according to a report by the Cambridge general board. The report was produced after almost a year of consultation.

It would cost Pounds 750,000 to promote 40 per cent of the lecturers, with a salary of between Pounds 31,000 and Pounds 33,000, the report said.

This would bring Cambridge more in line with other universities from the Russell Group of pre-1992, research-led universities. No more posts would be made available for readerships or professorships. Cambridge will save about Pounds 150,000 by phasing out its discretionary payments for lecturers.

David Livesey, secretary of the general board, warned that the report was not an end to the contentious issue. Money was still a serious barrier, he said.

Dr Evans, a history lecturer who has taken Cambridge to the High Court and an industrial tribunal over her persistent failure to win promotion, said the report suggests that the "career expectation of Cambridge should be senior lecturer status".

"Senior lectureships are for good teachers and administrators, not for researchers," she said. "But Cambridge's research assessment exercise shows that most of us are outstanding as researchers, as well as, we hope, teachers."

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