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Employers feel let down by trade union claims

A UCEA spokesperson said: “Trade union claims of refusals to talk are simply not true. We have met repeatedly over the last six months and as recently as last week. Behind the campaign headlines, our trade unions know that pay increases to HE staff on the pay spine will mean that salary costs in most HE institutions will actually rise by around 3 per cent this year. The increase on all pay points is just one element of the pay picture. Many staff will also get generous incremental increases and contribution pay. These pay increases will be seen as generous by many looking into the sector.

Any industrial action is naturally disappointing. However with less than 5% of staff voting to support this strike, our institutions tell us that the vast majority of staff understand the reality of the current environment and would not wish to harm their institutions and especially their students.”


Notes to editor:

  1. Total HEI expenditure on staff increased every year between 1998/99 and 2011/12. The decreasing proportion of expenditure spent on staffing is mainly due to the effects of inflation on other areas of expenditure and the increased need to finance borrowing due to the reduction in capital funding, and not a reduction in actual staff costs.
  2. While undergraduate student admission levels improved in 2013 compared to 2012, we are waiting to see a recovery to earlier levels and to assess the differential impact across HE institutions. It is important to note that the smaller 2012 student cohort will remain in the system for at least a further two years and that the larger 2013 cohort is still a minority of students in the sector. Concerns also remain over the 40% decrease in part-time students and a reduction in the number of mature students entering higher education. 
  3. The £1billion surpluses figure the unions quote is over two years old, the latest Hefce projection of sector surplus for the 2012/13 year is £659 million, equivalent to just 2.7% of income. HEIs must achieve and build their surplus levels to ensure sustainability and to fund essential investment. In an environment without central capital funding it is unsustainable to use surplus income to help fund recurrent expenditure such as employee salaries. Some 32 of 163 HEIs (roughly 20%) accounted for 65.4% of sector surpluses in 2011/12. *
  4. For more information on earnings growth in HE compared to the other occupational groups please see our interactive chart  
  5. For more information on the pay talks visit the Current Pay Negotiations page

For further information:

Please contact Andy Fryer, Communications Manager ( or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Officer ( on 020 7383 2444.