Flaws in case for pay by region

September 8, 2000

If we take two professors aged 50 on the same salary, one in London, one in the North, where under today's rules they would probably be earning similar wages at retirement in 2015, in Andrew Oswald's brave new world ("Pay heed to private life", Soapbox, THES, September 1) the Londoner would be earning 50 per cent more. He would then receive a pension 50 per cent larger.

But this increased pension could only be paid out of the same fund to which our professor in the North had contributed. Since both professors today have 25 years of equivalent pensionable service, in 15 years the Londoner's pension would be paid by taking part of the Northern professor's money to increase his wealth.

Then take the "M25 effect": the London professor needs more money to pay for expensive housing. We increase his/her salary. He buys a more expensive house, increasing the inflationary cycle in London property. One could argue, to as much effect, why have universities in central London at all? Those with international reputations do not serve local people, so move them to Peterborough or Glasgow (as we did with passports and taxes).

The real problem is academic pay in general. Introducing regional pay will enable the government to mask the gross under-valuation of academic work, setting the entire profession even further back than it is now.

Robert Clark Senior lecturer in English literature University of East Anglia

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