A final decision on the establishment of a single or dual pay structure for all university and college staff will not be made before a further round of consultations between employers and the unions at the end of the year.
The University and College Employers Association, which met last week to discuss the final analysis of responses to proposed changes in the pay structure, says that about 33 institutions support a single spine for all staff from porters to professors. But some 21 universities and colleges would prefer a dual structure which would divide academic from administrative, clerical and other pay.
The issue is to be thrashed out at a meeting of all UCEA subscribers on December 8. The establishment of a single pay spine would mean the end of nationally negotiated salary grades. Grades would continue to exist but any individual change would be locally determined, as would conditions of service. This change has been opposed by the majority of unions.
According to UCEA, those favouring a nationally negotiated single pay spine believe this would ensure that they would never breach equal pay legislation - professors and technicians would get the same percentage rise.
Stephen Rouse, chief executive of the UCEA, said that salary grades would not be abolished. "Nor is there any evidence that people would be less well off as a result of local determination. In fact better off universities might be able to pay better salary grades," he said.
The board also plans to reduce the number of negotiating bodies from nine to five by 1996. It will ask the Association of University Teachers to negotiate simultaneously with lecturers union Natfhe, for academic and academic-related staff. Unison, the lead body for four other staff groups covering administrative, clerical and other staff is to be asked to represent them.
"I believe AUT and Natfhe ought to be keen on this since they are part of a confederation. In the first instance we are not splitting the groups. The same people will be negotiating," Mr Rouse said.