Treasury's shadow must not fall on pay

October 26, 1995

S P. Rouse is correct in the view that pay review bodies are unlikely to result in fair, professional pay levels for the higher education sector (THES, letters, October 20).

It is questionable, however, whether the existing pay review body systems have ever worked effectively. The Government has until recently accepted the advice of these bodies, but that advice has resulted in many of the professions covered by the review bodies suffering relative decreases in pay levels. On the evidence of their recommendations, the review bodies have developed a distinct lack of independence, consistently shaping their advice to its eventual receipt by government.

Higher education needs, and deserves, more than this. The starting salary for a lecturer in a new university now stands at Pounds 13,100. Given that the successful candidate may well hold a PhD and have teaching experience, this figure compares very poorly with the median graduate starting salary of Pounds 14,000 forecast for this year.

The lecturers' union Natfhe believes that the only way of redressing the erosion of academic salaries in relation to average earnings is to conduct a one-off independent review. It will then be critical that both the employee and employer organisations call for the review's findings to be implemented for the good not only of academic professionals but for the economy as a whole.

Pay review bodies have consistently conducted their affairs in the shadow of the Treasury's regressive attitude to public sector remuneration. Academic salaries urgently need to be examined in the clear light of day.

Amanda Hart

Acting head of higher education

Natfhe

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