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Pay negotiating in higher education

UCU negotiates with the UK's higher education employers' body, the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA) over pay and conditions for academic and research staff, and, in pre-1992 institutions, for academic-related staff.

Collective strength

One of the benefits of membership of UCU is the collective strength it gives us in pay, as well as other negotiations. This is especially important as additional negotiating work within higher education has been devolved down to local branches.

If you are not a UCU member, make sure you join us today and further strengthen our negotiating position.

These negotiations take place within the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) - commonly referred to as 'New JNCHES' due to changes to arrangements in 2008. JNCHES deals with matters common to the academic sub-committee and another, non-academic, group.  UCU, as the largest UK union for academic and academic-related staff, is the majority union on the academic sub-committee. 

The vast majority of UK higher education institutions are part of these negotiating structures.

The annual up-rating of the higher education single pay spine is the subject of JNCHES negotiations for implementation on 1 August each year.

As well as representing you in salary negotiations, we also represent members' pensions interests through member trustees on the Universities Superannuation Scheme and Teachers' Pension Scheme. See the pensions section for more on our pensions work.

Keeping you informed

UCU works hard to make sure members are kept fully informed about developments in HE staff pay and conditions. In this website section you will find the latest information on all of our work under JNCHES, including grading arrangements and work towards equal pay.

We also run email lists, and send out briefings and letters to members to communicate directly any important information members need to know. Contact UCU head of campaigns Justine Stephens for further information.

See also: HE national agreements and guidance

Last updated: 5 May 2021