Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

You Won't Get Rich (but You Might Get a Free Turkey)

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

You Won't Get Rich (but You Might Get a Free Turkey)

Article excerpt

Global study shows scholars' salaries fail to match pay in many other professions. Jack Grove reports.

Academic salaries are no longer sufficient to attract the brightest and best into the sector, according to the co-author of a new global survey of higher education pay.

Philip Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, said that academic pay lagged behind that of many other professionals, with pay gaps most pronounced in senior posts.

His comments preface the publication next month of a report on academic pay in 28 countries, titled Paying the Professoriate, jointly authored by academics at Boston College and the Higher School of Economics in Russia.

The study considered average salaries for academics in full-time permanent posts at public universities worldwide, adjusted to reflect the cost of living in each country. It indicated whether an academic salary was enough to allow scholars to live a "middle-class" lifestyle.

Canada topped the pay league, with academics receiving an average of $7,196 (Pounds 4,537) a month before tax, when figures were adjusted for purchasing-power parity.

The UK finished in seventh place - behind Italy, South Africa, India, the US and Saudi Arabia - with academics being paid $5,943 a month on average, just ahead of Australia, the Netherlands and Germany.

The lowest paid were academics in Armenia, who earned about $538 a month - less than a tenth of UK pay. Slightly better off were their peers in Russia ($617) and China ($720). The report noted that moonlighting was rife in these countries.

In many countries, professorial pay was also significantly lower than the salaries awarded to senior figures in a number of professions, said Professor Altbach.

"You can tell the health of a higher education system by whether it can recruit the best and brightest within society" - and in most countries they cannot, he said.

"In low-paid countries, academics get as much moonlighting in a second job as they get for their normal salary. In average-paid countries, most rely on some extra work, which is ultimately bad for the system as they are not fully focused on their main role."

Professor Altbach noted that national variations in salaries contributed to a global brain drain from countries where academics were less well paid.

"Even where academic salaries compare relatively well with general wages, as in India, the much higher base salaries in North America or Europe lure many Indians abroad," he said. …

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