Union leaders in the old universities have struck a pay deal with employers designed to safeguard the worst-off universities. The 2.7 per cent increase in salaries is to be recommended to the Association of University members when they meet for their summer council in Weston-Super-Mare next week.
Both the AUT and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association are adamant that the 2.7 per cent increase is the maximum that some universities can afford. In the recent funding round a number received less than the average 2.1 per cent share of funds.
The increase, slightly more than half the 5 per cent originally sought by the union and set at the same level as the rise for school teachers, will add nearly Pounds 38 million to the total university pay bill of Pounds l.4 billion. If the pay increments are taken into account the percentage rises to 3.8, or Pounds 53 million. Stephen Rouse, UCEA chief executive, said that the deal was the most realistic that could be struck given the funding circumstances.
"I hope the AUT's members will accept the offer although I know they are still well behind school teachers in real terms." he said.
David Triesman, general secretary of the AUT said that a rise of over 2.7 per cent, plus pay increments, would have created financial difficulties for some universities. "My belief is that some institutions will find this quite a strain. We have gone to the limit of what they can afford. I think it is an equitable solution and we shall be recommending it to members next week."
He conceded that many university staff would probably argue that they had paid for the expansion in student numbers and were not being rewarded. The agreement did not alter the union's determination to get an independent pay review body, a system which had allowed teachers to do far better. Their salaries had increased in real terms by 54 per cent over seven years compared to 9 per cent for university lecturers.
The rise, an improvement on the last offer of 2.1 per cent made by the UCEA and rejected in April by the union, will mean that salaries at the top of the lecturer scale will rise from the current Pounds 25,735 by Pounds 694. At the top of the senior lecturer scale, currently Pounds 33,007, the increase will be nearly Pounds 900, while at the bottom of the scale salaries will go up less than half this figure.
Lecturers in the new universities are to launch their pay claim at the Natfhe annual conference at the end of this month. As yet no figure has been set, but it is expected that they will try to beat inflation. The main focus of the claim this year will be career progression and how to obtain promotion for teaching.
Current average pay is Pounds 25,515 and the bottom of the scale is Pounds 12,756. Half the staff concerned are at the top of the senior lecturer scale, on Pounds 26,223.