A consortium of more than 100 universities and colleges has signed a contract with management consultants to develop a unique job evaluation system. The system is intended to form a new basis for recruitment and promotion in higher education.
The consortium has been working with consultants Towers Perrin for two years on ways of comparing and assessing posts as disparate as porters and professors. The aim, says consortium chief executive Stephen Rouse, is to ensure equal pay for work of equal value.
Mr Rouse, also head of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, said the computerised system was designed to break down jobs into components and identify training needs, promotion requirements and appraisal support for varying jobs in universities.
"This is a demanding task since we are comparing jobs of very different kinds using behavioural competencies which focus on the process by which results are achieved together with traditional job evaluation factors such as responsibility for resources and people," Mr Rouse said.
He added that the scheme, due to be completed by 1997, is new and offers institutions a tool for team building, and encourages equal pay for equal work. It would help manage selection and promotion.
The Association of University Teachers is participating in the consortium but Conor Cradden, senior research officer, said he had reservations about job evaluation. "Job evaluation would be very difficult to apply in higher education," he said. "While the consortium's approach is quite sophisticated and could offer a way of recognising fairly the different contributions made by different employees there is a danger it could also lead to restricting ways of specifying jobs."
The AUT recognised the potential benefits, particularly for low- paid staff such as contract research- ers. However he said there was a risk that job evaluation favoured management and supervisory tasks.