Hundreds of tutors at the Open University were balloted this week on a pay deal that would see starting salaries for associate lecturers rise by 10 per cent.
After a year of negotiation, OU members of the Association of University Teachers are voting on a new pay scheme for associate lecturers - teaching-only staff who often work part time. Of the 7,000 associate lecturers who work for the OU, 800 are AUT members and have the right to vote.
Under the proposals, a new associate lecturer would get the equivalent of a full-time salary of £24,886, an increase of 10.6 per cent.
Experienced staff would get a 3.3 per cent rise, taking their pay to the equivalent of £25,663 a year.
The deal also adds a £26,401 point to the pay scale to recognise long service, 6.4 per cent more than the previous highest pay rate.
The AUT said it was the "latest and final offer" from the university authorities before an August 1 deadline for the new arrangements to come into force.
In a letter to members, the AUT says: "This proposed agreement is not as good or as generous as we might have wished. However, it does represent an advance on the status quo... In particular, it represents the final achievement of a long-standing OU-AUT objective - to link associate lecturer salaries to the salary scales used for full-time academic and related staff."
An OU spokesman said: "The proposals are designed to provide enhanced progression, through a clearly defined mechanism, fair treatment of associate lecturers who teach across a diverse range of courses and presentation patterns, with appropriate relativities, and a package that is affordable within a challenging financial environment."