THE universities' pay bargaining body rejected accusations this week that it had lost the confidence of vice chancellors and could be scrapped.
Philip Love, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said it had an important long-term role to play in national pay bargaining. He was backed by Steve Rouse, UCEA chief executive.
Professor Love, vice chancellor of Liverpool University, spoke out after last week's announcement that the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, which owns UCEA jointly with the Standing Conference of Principals and the Chairmen of University Councils, had set up a group to review the future of the association and other agencies. It should report in May.
Peter Knight, vice chancellor of the University of Central England and a review group member, criticised UCEA's handling of recent pay talks. He said that vice chancellors had been kept in the dark about the eventual two-year 5.8 per cent deal for lecturers struck by UCEA and unions. Universities might be better off determining pay individually, he said.
Review group chairman Sir Graeme Davies, vice chancellor of Glasgow University, said that it was probably impractical to expect a single body to cater for different university interest groups.
But this week Professor Love said: "The review is welcome and I am optimistic about the future of UCEA. The majority of the universities in the system want collective bargaining and believe it is not in their best interests to abandon national bargaining."