Sheffield union questions pay-review process for professors

Union claims that meetings to assess pay rises spend less than a minute per professor on average

June 26, 2014

Discussions of pay rises for professors at one university lasted little more than a minute per academic, a union has claimed.

At a single session lasting roughly three hours, some 163 professors were assessed by the University of Sheffield’s professorial review committee, according to the local University and College Union branch.

That meant that just over one minute on average was spent considering each individual’s merits in the 2013-14 review deliberations, it says.

Unlike most academics, professors do not receive automatic incremental rises linked to the national pay spine and instead have to apply for pay uplifts each year.

But Sheffield’s UCU branch says that the institution’s professors have no right to check the statements made by their heads of department on their behalf before they are submitted to the committee.

With no minutes taken of the meeting and no opportunity to appeal, the process is “open to arbitrary decisions or even abuse by heads, pro vice-chancellors or other members of the committee who might wish to reward or punish a given professor”, a UCU spokeswoman claimed.

The branch urges other academic staff to campaign against extending performance-related pay to other pay grades given that the professorial review process is “devoid of meaningful transparency”.

According to Sheffield’s website, almost four out of five professors assessed in this year’s review received either a salary rise, a bonus or a move to a different prestige level, although the value of awards was not stated.

Ian Wright, associate director of human resources at Sheffield, said that a “transparent” professorial pay framework was introduced in 2010, for which details are publicly available and outcomes published each year.

“Every professor has the opportunity to have their salary reviewed on a yearly basis in light of their continued and increasing contribution, through a process which is published annually,” said Mr Wright.

Full records of the process, which involves input from professors, heads of department and pro vice-chancellors, are “readily available to the professor on request”, he added.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest