Waging war on local bargaining

July 7, 2000

Few will be surprised by the failure of university teachers to win a substantial pay rise this year. Indeed, it seems unlikely academic salaries will ever catch up with the private sector and that the pattern of flat inflation-level rises will continue. The effect is not simply financial. There is an obvious consequence for morale as university teaching slides down the list of professions.

All, however, may not be quite lost. What perhaps is needed is a recognition that university teaching has changed and become much more, not less, professional. What has not changed is the structure it inhabits. Is it not time to abandon the old world of lecturer A and lecturer B, senior lecturer, reader and professor for a professorial title system along the lines of that used in the United States?

This might allow old and new universities to move closer together and provide a new impetus for the profession. The system of titles is confusing, especially the use of "Dr". Of course, there would be a loss involved in abandoning the old titles, but the gains might be worthwhile. Who knows, we might even get a pay rise paid on time one year.

Martin Coyle

Cardiff University

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