Belfast AUT Newsletter Issue no. 6- May 2003
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go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext The 2003 Pay Claim

The joint pay claim by the AUT, the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education and the Educational Institute of Scotland has now been approved by each union and sent to the employers. The settlement date is 1 August. HQ is preparing documents for each member explaining the pay claim and the campaign, but, because of enquiries by members, we had better outline it now.
We are submitting a three year claim, and it has two key elements.

¨ We want an increase in each of the years 2003, 2004, and 2005 equal to the increase in non-manual average earnings as of 31 March in each of those years. This is to prevent our relative pay declining still further. Typically the figure runs at about 2% above the inflation percentage. It is this difference which over many years has produced one of the measures of the shortfall in academic pay.

¨ There should be a ‘catching up’ increase of 14% over the three years which will start to address the accumulated shortfall in academic and related pay.

Taken together these two elements would require an increase of about 28% in cash terms over the three year period.
The pay claim is accompanied by the usual comparisons with other professional groups. If you look at actual earnings of full-time employees of both sexes as revealed in the ‘New Earnings Survey’, higher education teaching professional have an average 4% increase in real earnings since 1993, personnel managers 10.9%, secondary teachers in England 11.9%, middle rank civil servants 19.9%, medical practitioners 26.0%, and the non-manual average earnings have improved 17.8%. There is also evidence about starting salaries and career expectations. For instance, the starting pay for research staff is 12% less than the average starting salary for graduates. There are also international comparisons with the USA and the Republic of Ireland. To match salaries in these countries UK Lecturers would require a raise of over 20% and Professors about 50%.

This summer should also see the negotiations on the single pay spine and pay restructuring reach a critical phase, part of what has been called the “modernisation agenda”. Despite the dubious use of this expression elsewhere, the AUT and the other HE unions are not opposed to much needed reform of pay arrangements and the desperate need to ensure that employers meet their legal and moral obligations to ensure that all staff receive equal pay for work of equal value, and that pay and career progression opportunities are accessible to all on a fair and open basis. However, we have constantly reminded the employers that reform of the pay structure cannot be achieved in isolation from the necessary and long overdue adjustments to the levels of basic pay.

Therefore we are seeking to achieve by July a situation where the outline of the pay restructuring package can be identified, but its acceptability will be dependent upon the “price” the employers are willing to pay for it. This is the general pay uplift in salaries which should go along with it. This is one of the reasons why we produced a three year claim. It is very unlikely that pay reform can be achieved within a single year. The three year period gives time to complete and implement the reform package and also to match it with the associated salary increases.

Despite the leverage provided by the need for pay reform, these negotiations will not be easy. Employers are already pleading poverty even though Westminister has recently put a lot of money into Higher Education through the Comprehensive Spending Review and the White Paper. They are complaining that most of it has strings attached and claiming that little is available for general pay. An indication of their priorities is that, despite the great increase in productivity, academic pay has grown by just 4% in real terms since 1993 while since 1994 (when figures were first available) Vice-Chancellors’ pay has risen by more than 20%.

Paul Hudson, based on HQ documents

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext QUB Estimates for the 2003/2004

Senate approved on 8 April the financial estimates for the coming academic year. Unlike all other parts of the UK, Queen’s has not yet received its funding letter, and so the income is not firm but is estimated on the basis of discussions with officials at DEL. The most significant aspect of these discussions is that DEL has departed from the English Funding Council in how it will fund the results of the RAE and this is detailed in an article below.

On the income side, core teaching resources have been increased by 2.25% (the Government’s estimate of inflation) and student fees have been increased by about 2.25%. Thus the unit of resource for a full-time equivalent undergraduate in a classroom based subject will be about £2,935. For part-laboratory based subjects this is multiplied by 1.5, for laboratory based subjects by 2.0, and for clinical subjects by 4.5. In addition £0.563M has been assumed for 114 additional students outside the MASN cap. Although HEFCE withdrew the Maximum Aggregate Student Number (MASN) control last year so that English institutions could expand, DEL continues to apply the MASN cap in Northern Ireland, and QUB may well be fined about £150K for exceeding it. HEFCE has increased the incentives for widening participation based upon postcodes, unconventional qualifications, etc., but DEL has decided that these new incentives are not needed in Northern Ireland. As explained below, our QR funding from the RAE is expected to increase by £5.651M.

In addition to all the new funding for the Human Resource Strategy which was announced in our March Newsletter we expect £2.574M for 2003/4. Additional funding to recruit and retain teaching staff in shortage subjects (golden hellos, etc.) has not been included as the details are not clear yet. QUB has been awarded £212K from 2003/4 onward under the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund. There are other increases for various special initiatives, but these will have to be matched by related expenditure. There is recurrent income of £2.512M from the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR) and this will be spent in the relevant academic departments. Overseas student fee income is expected to increase by £617K. QUB’s total income for 2003/4 is estimated to be £187.216M, which is an increase of some 9%.

On the expenditure side there is extra provision for National Insurance, for insurance and for the pension scheme for non-USS staff, and most other non-pay expenditure is increased by 3%. Provision has been made for a pay increase of 3% for all staff, and 1.5% has been allowed for the costs associated with incremental progression. Every year this “salary drift” is roughly matched by the savings made because staff who leave or retire are normally near the top of the pay scale and new appointments are near the bottom. So I regard this provision as a reserve for pay increases.

Overall the projected surplus for 2003/4 is expected to be £3.834M. There is a medium term aim of a surplus each year of 3% which can be used for capital projects. This is not quite met by the forecast surplus for 2003/4, but, as explained in the March Newsletter, a large provision for capital projects is being made this year.

go to topcontents go to previous sectionprevious go to next sectionnext Funding the Results of the RAE

Because of substantial grade improvements HEFCE found it necessary in 2002/3 to change the funding weights attached to the RAE grades. It:

Because each subject had its own pot of gold to be divided into greatly differing numbers of shares, there were bizarre inconsistencies in funding between research gradings in similar subjects and between research cost bands. This methodology was applied in Northern Ireland in 2002/3.

QUB believes that the methodology is fundamentally flawed for a system with only two universities and has held talks with UU and DEL to find a better system. The following principles have been accepted and will underpin the 2003/4 methodology for the distribution of QR research funding in Northern Ireland:

As the 2003/4 weightings of grades were set aside only temporarily, these have been reintroduced (but with grade 5* uplifted 50% compared to grade 5) by DEL. On this basis, the average unit of resource in each cost band is as follows:

RAE Grade Weighting Cost Band
A (1.6) B (1.3) C (1.0)
5* 3.37 £60,000 £48,748 £37,500
5 2.25 £40,000 £32,500 £25,000
4 1.5 £26.667 £21,667 £16,667
3a 1.0 £17.778 £14,444 £11,111

These weightings are a radical break with those in England where there will be little support for grade 4’s and none for 3a’s. To have followed England would have totally removed the research base in Northern Ireland for a variety of subjects.

Although the total funds for QR in Northern Ireland has been fixed, the volumes to be used in the calculations for QUB’s estimates are subject to final adjustments. However, QUB’s QR grant is estimated to increase by £5.651M compared to that for 2002/3.

Paul Hudson, based on QUB documents

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Your Pension Fund is in Surplus

Although many final salary pension schemes are in dire trouble, the USS actuary has given our pension scheme a clean bill of health. The actuarial evaluation was carried out as at 31 March 2002. As regards the funds necessary to pay to members the benefits based on past service, the scheme has a 1% surplus on these liabilities. This is in the form of a £87M surplus in the main part of the pension fund and a surplus of £75M in the supplementary section (which pays for certain dependants’ benefits and ill-health retirement). A couple of years ago a much larger surplus had been expected, and AUT had begun to explore possible benefit improvements. The stock-market slump put pay to that, but at least USS is stable.

The employers’ contribution rate is presently 14%. To pay for the benefits which would arise from future service of members, the employers contribution ought to increase to 14.25%. However, it will be maintained at 14% and some of the surplus in the main section of the scheme used to fund the difference. This should not exhaust this surplus even over 12 years, which is the average outstanding lifetime of the current members. The employers contribution rate will be reviewed in three years’ time. (The employees’ contribution rate is fixed.)

Whilst asset values have declined since the valuation date, the conservative assumptions used in the valuation enable the actuary to be of the opinion that the scheme remains well funded. The fund continues to enjoy a positive cashflow with the aggregate of contributions and investment income exceeding benefit payments. In these circumstances the fall in the value of the fund’s investments is not of immediate concern since USS has no requirement to sell investments to meet its pension liabilities.

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Fixed-term staff, are you different?

From 1 October 2002 fixed-term employees have the right to be treated equally with comparable employees on indefinite contracts. The comparator is not limited to an employee with the same job title or on the same salary scale, but can be someone ‘engaged in the same or broadly similar work having regard, where relevant, to whether they have a similar level of qualification and skill’. The right relates to all terms and conditions including pay and pensions as well as training opportunities, the opportunity to apply for permanent posts and any benefit offered to employees.

If a fixed-term employee believes that they have identified such a difference in treatment they have the right to request a written statement from their employer giving reasons for the difference in treatment. The employer must then provide the statement within 21 days. This statement could be used in an Industrial Tribunal and an evasive one would be taken into account by the tribunal. However, we would advise members to talk to an AUT officer before requesting a statement.

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The National AUT Website

The national AUT website, has been radically redesigned. Please have a look at it and the new AUT logo. Although there are bound to be teething problems, it is a great improvement. Through the members only section you can now get free access to the online publications of the Labour Research Department, the independent union funded research body.

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The AUT Needs YOU

The great bulk of AUT work at local level is carried out by volunteers. We are always on the lookout for new blood, but the need for volunteers is particularly urgent now as we will soon be losing experienced AUT officers through retirement. What is in it for you? Well, nothing material directly, although the insight that you gain into the workings of the University and the contacts made with the senior staff may prove useful as your career progresses. For many people it is an opportunity to develop skills, such as negotiation, advocacy or administration, not used in their work, and this is particularly true of those who get involved in handling personal cases. Despite Maggie Thatcher declaring that there is no such thing as community, many people feel an attachment to the university community and want to play their part. Many of the problems of the university world can only be tackled if you get organised.

There are several levels at which you can be involved. Firstly, we need Departmental Representatives. These put up the occasional poster, tell us about potential recruits (and hopefully speak to them about AUT), and warn us of potential problems in their area. Similarly, we need volunteers to keep us in touch with the special problems of fixed-term and hourly paid staff and of black and ethnic minority members. The same goes for disabled staff and lesbian, gay or transgender members. The next level is to become an ordinary Committee Member and vacancies for these occur at the AGM in June and at Christmas. This involves attending about a dozen meetings a year and will give you an insight into the problems of the University. We also provide opportunities to widen your experience by attending national meetings, such as AUT Council, and by being included in a team meeting management. There are also training courses provided by AUT and the trade-union movement. Finally, there is the level of AUT Officer and the senior of these have some relief of university duties in that their department receives a sum of money to buy replacement services.

If you are interested in serving your fellow AUT members, please talk to any AUT Officer.

You can contact me on extension 3157 or at

Paul Hudson

© 2003 Belfast Association of University Teachers
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