Blunkett’s £330m seen as recognition of pay issues

HR
managers have welcomed a £330m increase in funding for wages in higher
education as government recognition of the need to address issues such as equal
pay in the sector.

Education
Secretary David Blunkett has announced that funding for higher education would
be increased by nearly 10 per cent in real terms over the next three years. He
claimed this would support modernisation and expansion of the sector, and pay
and equality measures negotiated by universities themselves.

Ged
Murray, chairman of the Universities Personnel Association (UPA), said, “We
welcome the announcement in principle as it seems to be a recognition of the
need to introduce modern human resources management and address issues such as
equal pay in the universities sector.”

But he
added that the funding details would be needed before personnel managers would
know the exact implications.

Blunkett
has committed £50m in 2001-02, rising to £110m in 2002-03 and £170m in 2003-04,
to support increases in academic and non-academic pay.

A
spokesperson for the Department for Education and Employment denied speculation
that Blunkett will expect the expansion of performance-related pay in return
for the extra cash.

Murray
said, “Universities have long had systems of performance-related pay and a lot
of the areas that need to be addressed are linked to pay. For example, you
don’t get to be a professor of a five-star department without showing that you
can perform at a very high level.”

In terms
of pay increases for academic staff, Blunkett said he recognised that staff
recruitment and retention, equal opportunities and human resources development
are central to providing world-class higher education.

By Paul Dinsdale

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