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The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .
Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.
Technicians, laboratory assistants, administrators and facilities management staff working in universities across the UK have been balloted for industrial action in protest over a 1.1 per cent pay offer.
The Unite union representing them said the ballot of around 9,000 of its members follows years of below inflation pay rises which have seen staff pay shrink by up to 16 per cent since 2012, while university heads and senior managers have "enjoyed bumper pay hikes" of around 5.1 per cent on average.
Unite is urging employers to get back around the table to negotiate an improved pay offer to avert potential strike action which it said would cause "mass disruption" to students at the start of the new autumn term.
The union is also calling for action on the gender pay gap and increasing use of zero hour contracts in the sector.
Mike McCartney, Unite national officer said: “The last thing our members want is to take strike action but after years of below inflation pay rises they have been left with no choice.
“Years of below inflation pay rises has seen staff pay shrink by between 15 and 16 per cent since 2012. The squeeze on staff salaries comes when the pay of university leaders and senior managers has increased by an average of more than five per cent, with the average pay package for vice chancellors standing at £272,000.
“The employers need to start recognising the critical role our members play in keeping the country’s biggest and best universities running. Without them things would grind to a halt.
“We are urging the employers to get back around the table to negotiate an improved pay offer; one that recognises the vital contribution our members make. We want to see an end to the blatant double standards that have allowed vice chancellors’ pay to rise four times faster than the pay for most staff.”
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