Further education lecturers' union leaders have warned that a pay dispute and threatened strike action is "inevitable" this year, writes Tony Tysome.
The warning came after figures from the Association of Colleges revealed that college heads' pay increased by an average of 4.48 per cent last year, bringing the median salary for a principal up to £70,000.
The AoC said it would be bidding for college managers to be included in the government's teaching pay initiative (TPI), at an estimated cost of £77 million over four years, to help boost salaries and retain senior staff.
Leaders of Natfhe, the college lecturers' union, said a survey had found that 17 per cent of colleges had not yet paid last year's 3.7 per cent pay award to lecturers.
Paul Mackney, Natfhe's general secretary, said: "Colleges have found the money to pay senior staff, yet nearly one in five hasn't been able to pay any award to teachers. Over 17 per cent of colleges still haven't even paid the 3.7 per cent agreed in August by the AoC.
"It's disgraceful considering that the average pay for our members is a paltry £22,770 for full-time and £19,000 for part-timers."
Sue Berryman, Natfhe's further education spokeswoman, said a pay dispute was "inevitable" this year because lecturers' pay had fallen further behind schoolteachers' salaries.
Last year, Natfhe members staged a one-day strike and threatened more action until the government agreed to bring forward £5 million of TPI money to bring pay increases up to 4 per cent this April.
Sue Dutton, deputy chief executive of the AoC, agreed that the pay gap between lecturers and schoolteachers was unsustainable.
But she added: "It surprises me that Natfhe is already talking about industrial action when the pay round for this year has not yet started."