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Conclusion on pay reached with four sector trade unions

Four of the five sector trade unions* have now concluded the 2015-16 HE pay round, with an above inflation increase to all staff. The increases are for a minimum of 1% on all pay points** with up to 2.65% on the lowest point, enabling the point to meet the Living Wage. Sitting alongside other increases through pay progression***, the award provides HE staff with the highest real-terms base pay improvement seen in recent years.

The pay uplifts are at the limits of what is realistic and affordable for HE institutions with the basic pay uplift just one element in the total pay, reward and recognition envelope. Furthermore, it brings the vast majority of staff in the sector on the lowest points of the pay scale to rates equivalent to or above the Living Wage campaign rate of £7.85 an hour. 

Equally important to employers and trade unions alike, UCEA and the four sector trade unions can now commence two important new pieces of joint work on the gender pay gap and casual employment. These take forward issues from last year’s joint work conducted on the gender pay gap and hourly-paid and casual employment, which concluded with published reports**** contributing to a better understanding on all sides.

It is regrettable that one trade union currently remains in dispute but UCEA now expects the award, which was due from 1 August, to be implemented by the participating HE institutions for staff members who have been waiting patiently during the dispute process.

Professor Paul Curran, Chair of UCEA, said:

“Concluding the 2015-16 pay round is a result of hard work, open dialogue and difficult yet constructive discussions and negotiation. The pay uplifts due in this award will be testing for many institutions’ finances as they all face increasing pension and National Insurance costs, together with in-year funding cuts. The employers were pleased to be able to make a fair and substantial offer and one that exceeded the official cost of living indicators. Personally, I’m also pleased that we can now move forward with another key aspect of the deal and work together on two important equality and pay-related issues.”

* GMB and UNISON accepted the deal in July, following emphatic votes by their members. UCU, Unite and EIS-ULA chose to invoke the dispute procedure but UCU and Unite have now concluded the round. EIS-ULA has around 1,200 members in some Scottish HEIs.  GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite account for 99% of HE sector trade union members.

** The award applies to the 51 points of the HE single pay spine which covers approximately 85% of HE staff working in roles below Professor and equivalent. 

*** Around half of employees covered by these negotiations are eligible to receive further increases through pay progression arrangements. The average cost of the 2015 pay increases will be around 2.5%, with some individuals eligible to receive a pay increase of around 4%.

**** Joint report on gender pay identifies good practice in HE
Ground-breaking joint report on hourly paid and casual staff


For further information: Please contact Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership ( or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Officer ( Call 020 7383 2444.

Notes to Editors

Many HE institutions already pay at or in excess of the Living Wage, as well as providing generous sickness, holiday and pension benefits, none of which is reflected by the Living Wage campaign.
Hourly rates vary due to differences in contractual hours at HE institutions. Not all HE institutions use the lowest points on the pay spine, but any staff paid on the bottom pay point working a 35 hour week (the working week at 41% of HE institutions) will earn an hourly rate equivalent to the current £7.85 Living Wage.

Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) in the year to July 2015, was 0%. The CPIH, an alternative measure which includes owner/occupier housing costs such as mortgage interest, was 0.3%.