LECTURERS are being balloted on last week's final pay offer from employers.
A joint meeting of all unions involved in higher education agreed to hear reactions from members before making up their minds on the offer of a 2 per cent pay rise for six months from the settlement date, rising to 3.8 per cent for the rest of the year.
The Association of University Teachers is sending ballot papers, carrying no executive recommendation, to all members, with a closing date of May 12. Results should be announced at its annual conference the following day.
The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education will be consulting branches until its conference at the end of May.
It will want to know views on the offer and on what action members would be prepared to take should they reject it. It will also ask for members' attitudes towards responses from other unions. Liz Allen, Natfhe's universities negotiator, said: "There are feelings of real frustration about the offer. It should have been possible for employers to go that bit further."
Particular concerns are that no extra money was forthcoming for the lowest paid and that there was no allowance for possible rises in inflation for unions, such as Natfhe, with late settlement dates.
Public sector unions with employees in the health services are concerned at setting a precedent by accepting a staged deal.
All eyes will now be on the independent review committee set up under the chairmanship of Sir Michael Bett to examine pay and conditions for higher education staff. But Tom Wilson, assistant general secretary of the AUT, said this could put considerable pressure on the Bett committee. If it failed to deliver for lecturers, he warned dissatisfaction could redouble next year.
Unions are unlikely to decide on a response before the end of June.