High earners may pay more, those who share pay less

February 10, 2006

Paying for parking is more likely to drive academics crazy than debates over their claims for a larger pay packet. Olga Wojtas and Alan Thomson investigate the different policies of universities across the UK

Academics must navigate a mind-boggling range of parking charges and charging permutations offered by UK universities.

Our survey has revealed a plethora of charges ranging from £470 a year at Sheffield University to zero at driver-friendly universities such as Roehampton, Middlesex and Kingston.

These headline charges seem clear enough, but within institutions there is an often baffling array of charging permutations.

Sheffield, for example, charges £470 a year for a permit. But this is for a Category A pass only. This guarantees the holder a space in the designated car parks.

There are also means-tested Category B passes that cost between £110 and just over £300. These are termed "licences to hunt" as there are no guaranteed spaces. Category C is pay-per-day.

David Hughes, manager of parking services at Sheffield, defended the amount charged. He said: "It used to be chaos here with an ever-growing number of people driving to work. And they would park anywhere. It was shambolic."

Mr Hughes said that the aim was to encourage staff to switch to public transport and that since parking charges were introduced there had been a noticeable shift away from cars.

Bournemouth University's charges are admirably egalitarian as they are linked to salary bands. Band 1 offers permits at £50 a year to manual and maintenance staff, Band 2 offers £100 permits to researchers and lecturers, and so on up to Band 5 permits.

These, at £250 a throw, are for heads of school and people such as the vice-chancellor. Luton and Oxford universities also charge according to salary.

Portsmouth, Cardiff, Derby and Essex universities prefer to charge staff a set proportion of their pay, typically between 0.75 per cent and 0.15 per cent.

Our survey found a dozen institutions that continue to offer free parking.

Some of these employ staff who live a considerable distance from the institution, often in rural areas. Aberdeen University is one of these but, ominously, it said that it would review the charging situation in future.

Other institutions such as the School of Pharmacy, University of London, take a more Darwinian approach and offer free parking on a "first come, first served" basis.

But the prize for what appears to be the sector's most comprehensive parking tariff must go to Southampton University.

It even offers a "shared-permits" option at £12 a month, unless, of course, the staff sharing a permit are on less than the equivalent of pay spine point 3, in which case it's £8. But if they are based at the Dockside campus, parking is free anyway.


Flat rates and charging bands

Sheffield - £110 to £470
Bournemouth - £50 to £250
Luton - £84 to £360
Surrey - £252
Birmingham - 90p a day
Leeds - £120 to £192
Southampton - £60 to £192
Queen's - £168
Dundee - £150 annual pass
Glasgow - £150
University of Central England - £150
Swansea - £15 to £150
Edinburgh - £120
Brunel - £36 to £120
Teesside - £90 a-year plus £20 for pass card
Hertfordshire - £8 to £100
Oxford - £20 to £80
Stirling - £70
Reading - £10 to £36
University of the West of England - £15 a year

Proportion of salary

Cardiff - 0.75 per cent of salary or £150 (whichever is cheaper)
Derby - 0.35 per cent of salary
Portsmouth - 0.3 per centof monthly salary, deducted monthly
Essex - 0.15 per cent plus 5p an hour


Open University
University of East London
Royal Holloway, School of Pharmacy
London Business School
Courtauld Institute of Art
Roehampton Middlesex

At Berkeley a Nobel's just the ticket if you want to park for free

Paying for parking is more likely to drive academics crazy than debates over their claims for a larger pay packet. Olga Wojtas and Alan Thomson investigate the different policies of universities across the UK

Traditionally, a reserved parking space and the keys to an executive loo were signs that an employee had made the grade.

Universities may have avoided many of the excesses of corporate culture, but they have not been averse to offering the odd perk. Parking has long been one of the bonuses offered by some universities to a select few.

For example, the vice-chancellor, president and registrar of Manchester University are granted a named space with the job. And the vice-chancellor of Cardiff is the only staff member allowed to park freely in the driveway of the main building.

But equality and environmental issues mean that, at many universities, senior staff now compete for spaces with everyone else.

As UK universities compete in a burgeoning higher education market, they may have to offer more generous benefits to attract top staff.

In this respect, US institutions are decades ahead. In 1957, Clark Kerr, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, said that the chancellor's job was to provide "parking for faculty, sex for the students, and athletics for the alumni".

Today, the vast majority of Berkeley's staff pay to park, but its 19 Nobel laureates get to park for free - each has a space marked "NL" within easy reach of his or her office.

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