PRESSURE is growing on university employers to set up the Dearing-recommended pay review committee, which has been delayed for nearly four months.
The Association of University Teachers has called on the Universities and Colleges Employers Association to set up the committee as soon as possible. Sir Ron recommended the committee in his report in July and said it should report by April next year.
The AUT has backed its call with a 14-page submission and a salary claim to the review committee. It wants a response within four weeks. Both the submission and the claim concentrate on the decline of lecturers' pay relative to other professionals. It also draws together other evidence relating to staff on fixed-term contracts, and on stress and faltering morale.
AUT general secretary David Triesman said: "We cannot wait any longer. Lodging the submission now and demanding a response within four weeks shows to employers the need to act fast. Further delay is unacceptable."
The submission says that, while general income for old universities rose by 75 per cent, spending on salaries for academic and related staff rose by only 49 per cent. The union acknowledges that universities faced a 40 per cent fall in the unit of resource over the same time.
"It is a disaster for which vice chancellors and governments are jointly responsible," says the submission. "While government is responsible for failing to provide adequate funding, the association strongly believes that even within the funding available, larger pay rises could and should have been possible over the past decade."
The AUT says that the case for a permanent pay review body "flows logically" from the conclusions over pay expressed in the Dearing Report and by the union.
Peter Humphreys, chief executive of UCEA, said that he had been waiting to see if the government would appoint the committee chair as Sir Ron recommended. The government ruled this out last month. Instead it said it would help in the selection of someone to chair the committee.
Mr Humphreys said: "I have asked the Department for Education and Employment to propose some names for chair and I am waiting for a reply. We propose to establish the committee on a tripartate basis with trade unions, employers and independents. There will be consultation with the unions on the choice of a chair and the independent members."
It is now almost certain that the review committee will fail to meet Sir Ron's original deadline. Mr Humphreys said: "The focus will be on a thorough and quality review rather than meeting the deadline." UCEA is considering its response to the AUT submission.