IRC to get Hera data

January 30, 1998

RESULTS of a study into a controversial job evaluation scheme for universities are to be fed into a major review of academic pay.

Details of a six-month pilot study into Higher Education Role Analysis (Hera) will go for consideration to the Independent Review Committee into pay and conditions of service, set up this month under Sir Michael Bett.

Peter Humphreys - chief executive of the University and Colleges Employers' Association and of the Educational Competencies Consortium Ltd, which set up the Hera scheme -Jsaid the scheme could be a basis for future job and grading structures.

"It will provide, for the first time, a powerful mechanism for dealing in a systematic and transparent way with many aspects of human resource management in our universities and colleges," he said.

A spokesman for Natfhe said the union had reservations about whether a job evaluation scheme could deal with the constantly shifting patterns of academic jobs. Natfhe would, however, welcome a Hera submission to the IRC. "It signals that equal pay will be a major issue in the IRC," she said.

Hera has been developed and managed since 1994 by the ECC, which now includes 110 universities and colleges of higher education, together with management consultants Towers Perrin Ltd. It was designed to provide a clear framework for evaluating jobs from porter to professor in individual institutions.

In a pilot study done last year, staff from Heriot-Watt, Hull, the London Institute, Oxford Brookes, the University of Wales College of Medicine and Westhill answered questionnaires about their skills and roles. It revealed a lot of anomalies, said Pam Hampshire, project chair, "but that is to be expected when existing pay structures have been around for some time". There was no evidence that people were overvalued, but there were signs of some being undervalued, senior clerical staff in particular.

She said the study had shown that Hera could distinguish between roles in different institutions and could help managers address anomalies. It was unlikely to cause radical changes and would not itself lead to large rises in institutions' staff costs, she said.

More work on Hera will take place over the next three to six months. Institutions have been advised not to introduce the scheme until then.

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