Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Grade Inflation: Professors' Pay Rises Twice as Fast as Rest: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Grade Inflation: Professors' Pay Rises Twice as Fast as Rest: News

Article excerpt

REF factor may explain growing salary differential shown by Hesa data. Jack Grove reports.

Professorial salaries are rising more than twice as fast as pay for other academic grades, raising fears about the inflationary impact of next year's research excellence framework.

With just seven months to go until the cut-off point for inclusion of staff in the REF, figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency suggest that professorial staff are gaining higher wage rises than rank-and-file academics squeezed by low national pay offers.

The average salary for full-time professors rose by 0.55 per cent to Pounds 76,214 in 2011-12 - almost three times the 0.2 per cent average pay increase handed to all other academic staff, whose average salaries rose by just Pounds 88 to Pounds 43,130, the Hesa figures show.

The number of professors at UK universities rose to 18,465 in 2011-12. Excluding the 584 scholars at the University of Oxford reclassified as professors that year, this equals an extra 416 academics at that grade. Meanwhile, the overall number of all other academic staff declined slightly.

Average pay for professors at several universities rose sharply, with many post-1992 institutions offering far higher average salaries than in previous years (see table left).

Needs of few outweighing the many

The financial data, published in this week's Times Higher Education, provide evidence that universities are paying higher salaries to attract or retain senior staff who can boost departmental REF scores, which will be used to distribute hundreds of millions of pounds in research cash.

But there is concern that the focus on senior staff, whose wages are not subject to the national pay spine, is coming at the expense of lower-paid academics who have faced four successive years of below-inflation rises.

"Against a backdrop of suppressing national spine payments for the many, some are doing very well in comparison," notes a submission to university employers by higher education unions ahead of next month's national pay negotiations.

The news comes as THE publishes its annual survey of vice-chancellors' pay, which shows that the average remuneration awarded to university leaders, including pensions and benefits, rose to Pounds 247,428 in 2011-12.

A "lack of transparency in how such off scale appointments and reward decisions are made" should also be addressed, the union submission notes, adding that Hesa data indicate that about 2,500 higher education staff were earning more than Pounds 100,000 a year in 2011-12. …

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