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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 01:00 GMT
UK academics 'among lowest paid'
Lecturers in the United Kingdom are among the least well rewarded in the developed world, claims a union survey.

In a comparison of spending power - in which factors such as tax, living expenditure and housing costs are taken into account, as well as pay - lecturers in the UK were found to be lagging behind.

Academics in the UK have a spending power calculated as 21,800, compared with 72,700 in Canada and 72,400 in Italy, according to a survey from the lecturers' union Natfhe.

Countries above UK lecturers' spending power
Canada 72,700
Italy 72,400
USA 56,100
Finland 47,100
Australia 39,900
France 34,500
Norway 31,200
Spain 24,900
Germany 24,800

Source: Natfhe
The survey compared lecturers' earnings, bonuses and living costs in 15 developed countries, based on figures for 1998, and found the UK ranked 10th.

In its proposals to the Treasury for the government's forthcoming comprehensive spending review, Natfhe says 675m is needed to fund improved and equal pay for male and female academics.

And an extra 1,000 lecturers will be needed each year if the government is to meet its target of getting half of all people under 30 into higher education by 2010.

The union says recruitment and retention of university staff is becoming a growing problem.

In 10 years' time, over half the current staff in subjects such as chemistry, physics and education will have retired.

Widening access

Natfhe's general secretary, Paul Mackney, said the unions "heartily supported" the government's target of getting 50% of 18 to 30 year olds into higher education.

Countries below UK lecturers' spending power
Greece 20,800
Mexico 18,400
Turkey 18,200
Japan 16,500
Czech Republic 11,500

Source: Natfhe
But he said it was also necessary to focus on standards.

"Poor pay is jeopardising universities' ability to attract and retain world-class academic staff.

"Compared with the earning power enjoyed by most of their peers world-wide, UK academics are the poor relations.

"High expectations for widening participation and low pay for teaching and research just doesn't add up," he said.

Investment

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the government had listened to concerns from the higher education sector about pay and the need to recruit and retain high quality staff.

"That is why we are putting 50m in 2001-02, rising to 110m in 2002-03 and 170m in 2003-04, specifically into supporting increases in academic and non-academic pay," she said.

"This will help institutions to recruit and retain the key staff they need to ensure that our higher education remains world class," the spokeswoman said.

Baroness Warwick, chief executive of Universities UK (formerly the committee of vice-chancellors and principals), said she recognised the continued success of universities depended on their ability to recruit and retain quality staff, to widen access and to stay at the leading edge of research.

Lady Warwick said: "Universities continue to make notable progress in addressing staff issues, but we recognise that much remains to be done in this area, and this is dependent on further significant investment."

See also:

27 Jun 01 | Education
Deal sealed on university pay
09 Apr 01 | Education
Academics march for more money
15 Feb 01 | Education
Lecturers suspend action
17 May 01 | Education
Lecturers vote to ballot on pay deal
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