Cash incentives fail to close higher education skills gaps

Higher education is facing a severe shortage of teachers in maths, chemistry and engineering despite the incentive of higher pay in these specialist subjects, according to research by Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK).

The number of permanent higher education staff teaching engineering and related subjects fell by 14% between 1995-96 and 2003-04. For maths, chemistry and physics, the report revealed decreases of about 10%.

In response to the decline, many of the 171 higher education employers questioned said they had increased pay rates for specialist subjects.

A typical physics lecturer, for example, could expect to earn £5,970 more than the average academic in 2003-04,

Chemistry lecturers were earning £4,640 above the median for academic staff while, in maths and engineering, lecturers received respectively £3,970 and £2,400 above the norm.

The shortage also extended to generic skills such as management and computer literacy.

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