Lecturers have attacked the government's decision to wash its hands of any responsibility in determining higher education pay.
The Association of University Teachers is angry at the government's continued insistence that pay and conditions are a matter solely for individual higher education institutions. The Department for Education and Employment confirmed this week that this stance was reiterated in its submission to the Bett inquiry on pay and conditions.
The inquiry, chaired by Sir Michael Bett, is due to report next year and AUT hopes that the committee will recommend setting up a permanent pay-review body for academic and related staff. The union says that only a permanent review body can begin to address the widening pay gap between lecturers and comparable professionals such as school teachers.
AUT president Chris Banister said: "The government should accept its responsibilities in terms of providing the funding mechanisms to ensure that Bett recommendations are honoured.
"We know we have a world-beating university system, not only because we have made it so but because government ministers tell us so. But is it right that that we have levels of pay that have progressively edged down the pay league?"