Terms of reference

June 25, 1999

Is there life after Bett?

The Bett committee faced a mammoth task in trying to untangle and make sense of higher education's multi-layered and convoluted pay and conditions structures, writes Alan Thomson.

Sir Ron (now Lord) Dearing first recommended an independent review committee in his report on higher education in the summer of 1997. After protracted consultations with the sector, the Bett committee, which first met seven months later, agreed its terms of reference.

Committee members were to make recommendations on the framework for negotiating pay and terms and conditions of service as well as pay levels.

These were devised with a view to: achieving new ways of working in higher education as outlined by Dearing; a link between conditions of service and remuneration; respecting institutional autonomy (and the diversity of institutions and their need to ensure financial wellbeing and quality); and making the appropriate transitional arrangements.

Further delays arose because of the lack of existing information on pay and conditions in the sector. The committee had to gather much of this information for itself.

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