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2017-18 pay is settled following positive responses by trade unions and their members

2017-18 pay is settled following positive responses by trade unions and their members

UCEA is pleased to report the conclusion of the 2017-18 pay round with four of the HE trade unions now confirming acceptance of the final offer for pay uplifts with effect from 1 August. The participating employers will now be able to implement the agreed settlement (1) that provides HE staff with an increase of between 2.4% and 1.7% together with new and significant joint work looking at employer actions to tackle the gender pay gap. UCEA and the trade unions continue to work together on two pieces of joint work on the gender pay gap and casual employment as a result of last year’s pay settlement.

UCEA, representing 148 participating employers, has now gained acceptance from UCU, UNISON, Unite and GMB to the final offer made in April this year. The EIS is not formally responding until September (2). 

The award brings the average pay increase for the staff group covered to 3.2% (3), plus extra for those employed on pay points up to and including point 16. The extra for the lowest point enables the hourly-rate for this point to cut to the current voluntary Living Wage and be well above the National Living Wage (4). All of this, together with new and significant joint work on gender pay gaps, confirms the employers’ commitment to balancing the high value they place on their staff with the sustainability of their institutions and the responsibility they have towards their students. 

The employers’ offer confirms their commitment to maintaining sector pay competitiveness against a currently rising set of inflation measures that make it impossible for a base pay increase alone to match them - as is being seen across the wider economy. UCEA emphasised the severity of ongoing financial challenges for the participating employers, including significant cost increases, the challenging funding context and huge Brexit and related uncertainties. 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. UCEA is also aware that some members have significant redundancy programmes running but these HE institutions are also proud of their excellent reward package for staff, including those on the lower spine points, often being the employer of choice in their locality.

Professor Mark E. Smith, Chair of UCEA, said: “We are delighted that UCEA’s best and final offer was received positively by the trade unions and their members, resulting in the agreed settlement we now have and a welcome conclusion to the HE pay round for 2017-18. This followed constructive and considered negotiations held in March and April of this year. I am also pleased that we have agreed further joint work to address other challenges, especially as we will do more together around tackling the gender pay gap. The offer was pitched to meet the balance of views across our member institutions, but we are well aware that implementation of this settlement remains at, and for some HE institutions beyond, their limit of affordability. However, employers are also determined to maintain sector pay competitiveness in this difficult environment.” 



(1) The full settlement for 2017-18 is available via this link. 

(2) HEIs opt to participate in the negotiations each year and the list of participating HEIs in the 2017-18 round is available on the current negotiations section. The National Pay Spine is used by most HEIs to underpin their pay and grading arrangements for staff up to Professor level (and equivalent), covering around 87% of the HE workforce. The five trade unions represent the staff covered by the negotiations. The New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff which is the forum in which the employers, represented by UCEA, and the trade unions negotiate on the base uplift to the National Pay Spine, effective from 1 August each year.

(3) Approximately half of the staff covered by these negotiations are also eligible for progression pay increases of around 3%; this adds an average addition of a 1.5% increase to the base pay increase that all will receive, bringing the total average increase to 3.2%

(4) The lowest point of the national spine (point 2), where used, now provides an hourly rate of £8.45 at HEIs that use a 35 hour week, 12.7% above the latest National Living Wage of £7.50. Many HEIs actually start their lowest grade at a higher point than this.

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

Notes to Editors

The New JNCHES negotiating timetable is a process that in 2017-18 ran across meetings in March and April. This forum allows for three negotiating meetings, and more if required. 

The New JNCHES (New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff) is the forum where the UCEA represents participating HE institutions in negotiations with the five recognised HE trade unions – EIS (ULA), GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite – to negotiate the base uplift to the National Pay Spine, effective from 1 August each year. Each year HE intuitions are invited to confirm that they wish to be represented by UCEA at New JNCHES. 148 HE institutions have opted to take part in recent years.

The National Pay Spine has 50 points (point 1 was abolished on 1 April 2017) paying between £15,417 at point 2 and £60,410 at point 51 from 1 August 2017. Academics up to Professorial grades and directly employed professional services staff (including cleaners, catering and estates staff, and administrators, finance and IT support staff) are employed on salaries in this range. The pay of senior university administrators, academic staff in professorial and management roles and Heads of Institutions (Vice-Chancellors and Principals) and their deputies is decided by the independent Remuneration Committees of each individual HE institution.