The Universities and Colleges Employers Association proposed the deal yesterday at a meeting with the sector’s five unions: the GMB, the Educational Institute of Scotland, Unison, Unite and the University and College Union.
Even for staff on the lowest rung of the national pay spine – which starts at £13,203 a year – the £100 lump sum would amount to a rise of just 0.8 per cent.
The unions had lodged a collective claim for an increase in line with retail prices index inflation – currently at 5.3 per cent – “or a lump sum, whichever the greater”.
A UCU spokesman described the offer as “disappointing given the rising cost of living faced by university staff” and said that pay would be high on the agenda at the union’s annual Congress this weekend.
The £100 proposal comes after a 0.4 per cent offer earlier this year (still not accepted by the UCU or the EIS) and a 0.5 per cent deal the previous year.
Mike Robinson, national education officer for Unite, said: “Unite rejects the offer. It is a below-inflation offer for the third year running and as such represents a 16 per cent decrease in salary in real terms.
“The lump sum offer of £100, while well short of real needs, is something we would encourage Ucea to improve upon. There are some desperately low-paid staff and a decent lump sum offer would be welcome.”
A spokesman for Ucea said the offer was “in addition to incremental rises (2.9 per cent) that many staff are likely to receive”.
But the unions believe that increments should not be considered as pay rises and few of the sector’s lowest-paid workers receive them.
The Ucea spokesman said: “The context for discussions includes the pay freeze for the majority of public-sector employees, the challenging future arising from significant changes to funding, the awaited White Paper on higher education for England and austerity measures in the devolved administrations.”