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UK lecturers underpaid by international standards


An analysis of lecturers' pay by the union Natfhe shows that the UK undervalues and underpays its university teachers and researchers in contrast with comparable countries. Lecturers' pay here is slightly above that in Greece, Mexico and Turkey, and well below that in North America, Australia and most of the rest of Europe. Canada tops the table, with representative pay and benefits totalling £72,700 as against £21,800 here. The international comparison is contained in the union’s forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review submission.

According to these figures, UK academics' pay has been left behind even by that of comparable public sector employees and is now as much as 30% below the market rate. Recruitment and retention are becoming problematic, and in chemistry, physics and education over half the staff will retire in ten years.

Paul Mackney, NATFHE general secretary said: "We heartily support the government’s target of getting 50% of 18 to 30 year olds into higher education by 2010 and tackling social exclusion, but we have to focus on exit standards too. Students have to be confident that they’ll get the excellent teaching and support needed to see them through to a high quality qualification. Poor pay is jeopardising universities’ ability to attract and retain world-class academic staff. Compared to the earning power enjoyed by most of their peers worldwide, UK academics are the poor relations. High expectations for widening participation and low pay for teaching and research just doesn’t add up".

NAFTHE Spending review submissions
The NATFHE CSR submission will state that £675 million is needed just to reform university pay, tackle gender pay discrimination and increase staffing levels to cope with government HE expansion targets.

- £450 million extra per year is needed to tackle the decline in university pay levels in line with the independent Bett report recommendations
- £150 million is needed to end sex discrimination by closing the 16% pay gap between male and female university academics
- £50 million is required to provide acceptable employment conditions for thousands of part time staff on casual contracts.

The government’s target of 50% of 18-to 30 years olds in HE by 2010 will mean recruiting 15,000 extra students per year. 1000 more teachers per year will be needed, costing £25 million annually. A further £1.2 billion would be necessary over the next three years to adequately fund expansion and wider access, support excellence in teaching, invest in refurbishing and building new teaching infrastructure, and further raise investment in research.

International rates, relative to purchsasing power in GBP
Canada 72,700
Italy 72,400
United States 56,100
Finland 47,100
Australia 39,900
France 34,500
Norway 31,200
Spain 24,900
Germany 24,800
United Kingdom 21,800
Greece 20,800
Mexico 18,400
Turkey 18,200
Japan 16,500
Czech Republic 11,500

All figures for this table are derived from official OECD statistics. Previous comparisons of academic pay have suffered from the fact that tax regimes, exchange rates, social benefits and living costs vary greatly. Hence gross pay comparisons are little guide to relative purchasing power. The above table corrects for this by using the OECD Purchasing Price index, which takes benefits, taxes, exchange rates and living costs into account. It covers all teaching and teaching/research staff in tertiary level institutions, including part-time and fixed term staff.


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