PRP? we don't want it

February 7, 1997

Your report of the plan by University College London to introduce an obsolescent profit-related pay scheme (THES, January 24) quotes the provost, Derek Roberts, as describing the Association of University Teachers as "crazy" and the AUT's opposition to PRP as "stupid".

To call into question the intelligence of those with whom one disagrees is a common failing, but it does not advance the debate on this or any other matter.

The AUT's opposition to PRP is based not on an inability to do arithmetic but on an objection in principle to the use in the public sector of schemes designed for private sector companies which make profits. Institutions of higher education can only create an artificial pool of "profit" by cutting the pay of their staff.

The AUT's view is that academic and related staff in higher education should be paid on nationally agreed salary scales, which should be kept free of the devious manipulations of tax avoidance.

This is quite apart from the undesirable public image created by pretending that institutions which are chronically underfunded and face serious financial difficulties are actually producing surplus profits. The source of the extra funds produced gives cause for concern. The Government consistently argues that increased public funding of higher education is not possible because of the burden it would place on the taxpayer, yet PRP schemes deplete the tax take and undermine the public finances. Those spheres of activity which depend on public expenditure for their survival (including higher education) are the losers in this scam.

The AUT argues for honesty and openness in public finances, payment on clear, properly-determined national scales, a sleaze-free public sector and wants nothing to do with profit-related pay.

David Green

Executive committee, Association of University Teachers

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