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Friday, 24 December, 1999, 00:52 GMT
Lecturers call for fair pay assessment

David Triesman David Triesman: "Fairness is the watch-word"

BBC News Online has invited key figures in the UK education system to set out their hopes for the New Year.

First up is David Triesman, General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers.

One wish for the new year, decade, century and millennium is that governments set up a statutory independent pay review body for academic and professional staff in higher education.

Doctors, dentists, senior civil servants, teachers and nurses have their pay needs and increases assessed fairly and independently.

Higher education staff want fairness and a long-term answer to falling salaries.

Over the last 10 years, every public sector group has done better than those in higher education.

Our wish is that every member of parliament adds their name to the 150 or so who have already signed up support for the Early Day Motion (number 40) which addresses this problem. Fairness, not favours.

'Honest deal' for students

The millennium will see higher education expand further.

We wish for a fully-funded expansion to give students an honest deal.

Students contribute to their tuition fees and feel strongly that this money must be used to improve the facilities of universities and colleges.

Few realise that the real amount of public money spent to teach each student has dropped by over 40% in the last eight years.

Salaries in higher education have increased in real terms by a mere 1% since 1981, whereas the average real-terms increase for all non-manual workers is nearly 40%.

We wish government would understand how unfair this is for staff who have achieved an amazing level of productivity over the years and have reaped no reward.

Shifting resources

Fairness is the watch-word for higher education staff. Women and those from ethnic minority groups are disadvantaged in every way.

They are paid less, promoted less, and have worse job security than other staff groups. There is no way the whole gamut of discrimination can be corrected without additional money to deal with these disgraceful facts.

It is not all about money. Some of our wishes are about shifting resources.

For instance, in research, while some choices in the distribution of funds are necessary and, given the limits on funds, inevitable, the degree of selectivity and concentration of research funding practised over the last decade has now become wasteful of potential talent and conservative in its reliance on the "safe bet".

There should be a "seedcorn" fund available to university researchers for starting up new research programmes.

And finally, remove much of the senseless bureaucracy, the form-filling, the paper pushing. Let staff teach and research. Over-regulation is suffocating initiative.

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See also:
26 Dec 99 |  Education
Fair rewards for teachers
25 Dec 99 |  Education
Ideal vision of education

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