There has been commotion over the pay rise, or lack of, for various positions inside the education sector. Whilst the unemployment rate in the UK has notably improved by more that 2.5% since 2013, the 1.1% rate of increase in the income of staff in the education sector has divided opinion.

On the one hand, the Living Wage Campaign Rate of £8.25 is offered to all workers in the education sector, which is a 5.1% rise on the annual income for its lowest paid positions. On the other hand, the annual wage of Falmouth University’s Vice Chancellor has risen by more than 25%, bringing Anne Carlisle’s annual income close to £300,000 according to the Times Higher Education Vice Chancellors Remuneration tables.

There is clearly some inequality in the allocation of pay rises. Trade Unions have been planning protests against the drastic wage increase of high powered positions rather than a more equal pay rise scheme.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that:

“Looking at national stocks of things such as education…there is a mixed message about sustainability for the future”

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) met with various HE trade unions to resolve the disputes growing inside the HE framework. The UCEA feel that:

“While HE institutions are dismayed by UCU’s [University and College Union] threat of strike action and the potential for this to disrupt students’ education, they believe the vast majority of staff will be working to ensure minimum disruption”

This seems to suggest that most of the action proposed by trade unions will be carried out by the positions in between the lowest and the highest pay brackets. They will enjoy the least amount of increase in their annual income, a fact that has led some to imply universities such as Falmouth are implementing a ‘double standard’.

The General Secretary of the UCU, Sally Hunt feels that:

“Universities need to answer some hard questions about how they will continue to attract and retain the best talent when pay is being held down and hardworking staff are receiving such poor reward for their efforts.”

This sentiment has even been echoed in parliament. The Business Secretary Sajid Javid and the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson have remarked that they are concerned about the ‘upward drift’ of salaries in some high powered positions, calling for ‘much greater restraint’.

Spokespeople for universities such as Falmouth claim that the high pay rise in top managerial positions is due to the ‘continued growth and success of the university’. The reality is that it comes from the £100 million EU investment aimed at improving the economy in Cornwall where the average annual wage is only just over £17,500.

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