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In the news: 5 May 2017

5 May 2017

Academic pay lower last year than start of the decade

The annual Times Higher Education pay survey revealed yesterday that average pay for UK academics was still lower last year than in 2010-11 once the increased cost of living is accounted for. Figures on pay for full-time staff in UK universities show that academic staff were paid an average of £49,408 in 2015-16, while professors received an average salary of £79,030. For academic staff, this was 2.8 per cent lower than the equivalent salary, adjusted for 2015-16 prices, of £50,854 five years earlier. Each academic year since 2010-11 has seen a fall in average pay for academics in real terms. 

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said that institutions were spending too much on capital projects and vice-chancellors compared with staff. 'The time has come for universities to reassess those priorities and invest properly in their finest asset,' she said.

Sally also drew attention to recent data that showed how universities' total income increased by 3.6% between 2014/15 and 2015/16. The data also showed that universities increased the money they have in reserves, yet staff costs fell again.

Donations to UK universities pass the £1bn mark

Philanthropic donations to UK universities have exceeded £1bn a year for the first time, according to a survey in the Guardian on Wednesday. The survey showed that the total amount of philanthropic income secured in new funds by 110 participating universities has gone up by 23% in the space of a year. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge remain the biggest winners from charitable giving by a huge margin. Together they account for 46% of new funds secured and 34% of total donors.

Responding to the survey, Sally Hunt said: 'Higher education is worth paying for, and UCU remains committed to campaigning for greater public investment rather than asking others to make up shortfalls. As we try to deal with the Brexit fallout, the sector needs stability and that comes via secure funding, not variable streams.'

Job loss fears in college mergers, cuts and closures

There are fears for jobs as colleges cite a lack of funding as the reason for cuts, campus closures and mergers. Forty job losses have been proposed at Bath College, according to the local paper.

UCU told the Chester Chronicle that the union would be scrutinising the basis for any proposed job cuts following a merger of West Cheshire and South Cheshire colleges and would want to work with the college to avoid compulsory redundancies.

In Staffordshire, UCU said the closure of the Cannock campus of South Staffordshire College was a sad day for staff and students and that the union's priority was to preserve as much of course provision as possible and to protect the jobs of the Cannock staff.

Is Germany the least stressful country to work in?

Academics working in the UK and Australia experience more stress in their job than their counterparts in Iran and Uganda, according to a study in yesterday's Times Higher. The first global comparison of stress levels in different higher education sectors suggested that the world's happiest researchers are to be found in Germany, while scholars working in China feel the greatest strain.

Canada, Denmark, Finland and Malaysia are also judged to be relatively stress-free sectors. The UK and Australia are ranked mid-table, coming ahead of Russia and Pakistan but behind the US, Japan, the Netherlands and Singapore on well-being.

Morale at UCL at "an all-time low"

Morale among staff at University College London (UCL) is at "an all-time low" over worries about the management and future direction of the institution, according to a poll of its academics in the Guardian. The survey of its 1,400-strong academic board exposes profound discontent among staff. Completed by more than a third of the board, the survey reveals doubts about the financial management of the university and scepticism about its ambitious expansion plans.

Respondents said academic staff increasingly did not feel valued and that power was now in the hands of sometimes inexperienced administrators. One said: 'We feel part of an anonymous revenue-driven machine and it is currently hard to feel valued by UCL.' Another complained that: 'Staff morale at all-time low and UCL is being run as a business and not as a university.'



Last updated: 5 May 2017