Lecturers' leaders claimed this week that universities have been allocated enough money for a 24 per cent increase in their staffing budget over the next three years. This is a direct rebuttal of the vice-chancellors' claims that the £2.3 billion does not include enough cash for across-the-board staff pay rises.
The Association of University Teachers has analysed the figures for the years 2003-04 to 2005-06, the period before top-up fees are introduced, after Universities UK, which represents the vice-chancellors, said the settlement diverted so much cash into special initiatives and research, there was nothing left for teaching or pay.
UUK said that special funding of £165 million for "recruiting and rewarding staff" would be for discretionary, locally determined, and performance or market-related pay rises only.
AUT general secretary Sally Hunt this week accused vice-chancellors of "crying wolf" to avoid increasing staff pay. "They should be ashamed of themselves after the chancellor has plainly given them the means to address the issue of pay," she said.
The AUT analysis of the funding allocations says UUK is overpessimistic.
The association estimates a 19.8 per cent increase in recurrent teaching and research grant in 2003-04 to 2005-06. After deducting special initiative funding of £2.3 billion, there should still be £761 million in additional recurrent funding for pay.
"Once this extra money is added to the amount already forecast in July 2002 by English universities for spending on staff costs, there would be enough for a 24 per cent increase in spending on staff costs," the document says.
"The unit of resource, even after subtracting initiative funding and forecast inflation, will nevertheless still rise in real terms in two of the three years covered by the 2002 spending review," the AUT paper says."
Ms Hunt said: "The figures plainly show that, as a result of the government's announcements, there is more than enough money to pay staff a decent wage."
* The united campaign for a higher cost-of-living allowance for London university staff looks set to disintegrate as staff in new universities prepare to accept an improved deal, while those in the pre-1992 sector have been offered nothing.
Staff in new universities, where London weighting forms part of national negotiations, have been offered a 6.5 per cent rise, upping the lecturers' allowance by £170 a year to £2,523 in inner London.
This falls far short of the across-the-board rise demanded, but it is likely to be accepted reluctantly, and it may lead to the collapse of the joint union pay campaign.