Shift in professional identity

July 25, 1997

Dearing says that staffing issues are central to higher education's success over the next 20 years.

"An effective, fairly remunerated, professional and well-motivated workforce lies at the heart of the high-quality system of higher education which this country will need," the report says.

The report is a progressive manifesto that addresses historic imbalances and paves the way for new working patterns. When it comes to pay, however, Dearing makes conciliatory noises before deftly ducking the issue.

The report says that collective bargaining may not be appropriate and calls for more flexibility. It pours cold water on the idea of an independent standing pay review body, instead recommending that employers appoint an independent review committee to report, by April next year, on the framework for determining pay and conditions of service (Rec 50).

Dearing refers to the Higher Education Role Analysis system proposed by the Universities Competencies Consortium. This has angered lecturing unions (see letters page) and Dearing stops short of specifically endorsing it. Instead the report recommends that all institutions review and update staff development policies over the next year to ensure they address changing staff roles (Rec 47).

Short-term contracts and casualisation, while introducing a helpful degree of flexibility, could harm education quality unless properly managed, the report says. Dearing hopes that the Concordat agreed by higher education stakeholders last year will alleviate some of the problems but he is insistent that this scheme is reviewed and, if necessary, altered.

The report says that women, ethnic minorities and the disabled are all under-represented among staff, except at junior levels. It recommends that institutions remove barriers and monitor and publish their progress to +equal opportunities (Rec 49).

Dearing recommends the long-term harmonisation of pension arrangements for staff in old and new universities (Rec 51). He says that all entrants should be directed to the Universities' Superannuation Scheme. Staff in new universities are currently part of the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme.

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