Researchers at ex-polys worse off

October 13, 1995

Researchers in the new universities are thousands of pounds worse off than their counterparts in the old universities, according to a survey published this week by lecturers' union Natfhe.

Aggregating the salaries of researchers on scales A and B, the lower end of the pay scale, the study found that the combined average salary is Pounds 14,300. The figure compares unfavourably with the combined average of Pounds 17,918 for A and B researchers in the old universities.

Amanda Hart, Natfhe acting head of higher education said researchers in the new universities are getting a "rough deal" and that "unless the treatment and funding of researchers is taken more seriously, many will leave".

The survey covers responses from 88 research staff employed in 26 of the 35 new institutions and six out of the 56 HE colleges. Fifty- three per cent of respondents on scales A and B were employed in the arts and 47 per cent in sciences. Forty-four per cent of respondents were women and the average age of all respondents was 32.

Natfhe says employers have often claimed that the low pay of those on scales A and B was due to most being research students studying for a higher degree. But the survey found that less than a third were research students, with 40 per cent of researchers on scale A already hold a masters degree.

Nearly 90 per cent of A/B researchers were on full-time contracts and the rest work part-time. All researchers on scales A and B, and half the senior researchers surveyed were employed on fixed-term contracts. More than 80 per cent of respondents complained that the fixed-term contract regime affected the quality of their work mainly because of the time spent hunting for other contracts or funding. The survey found that in addition to research and publishing commitments, nearly 90 per cent of researchers were expected to teach on average four or five hours a week with scientists under more pressure to teach than their arts colleagues.

Few were receiving any kind of staff development apart from time off to go to conferences and seminars. Half the researchers surveyed planned to move to old universities, industry or other public sector institutions.

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