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CONGREGATION 20 February 2 p.m.

¶ Members of Congregation are reminded that written notice of any intention to vote against the preamble of the statute below, signed by at least two members of Congregation, must be given to the Registrar by noon on Monday, 12 February (see the Guide to Procedures in Congregation cited in the note at the end of `University Agenda').

Promulgation of Statute

Statute: Salaries of academic staff

Explanatory note

Introduction Since its establishment in October 2000 as one of the major policy-making committees of the new Council, the Personnel Committee has been working to draw together a number of key long-running staffing issues, and to make concrete progress on them in a co-ordinated way. In general the committee is seeking to use the new central and divisional structures to pursue policy and practice on personnel matters in a way which is responsive to the concerns of university staff and their employing departments, while taking full account of the importance of the college dimension (where academic staff are concerned). The committee is acutely conscious of the difficulties of doing this against the background of the University's current financial constraints and, in many areas, a developing but still uncertain national picture. However, it is determined to do what it can to raise morale among staff, and believes that it is important as part of that process to pursue swiftly, equitably, and coherently the development of policies and practices which are based on local responsibility for change within broad central frameworks.

BURDENS ON ACADEMIC STAFF

In respect of academic staff, the Personnel Committee is clear that the level of burdens is in the eyes of many by far the most important issue. The committee has reviewed the progress made under the previous governance structures by the Joint Working Party on Joint Appointments and its predecessors over the last several years. The joint working party made some very valuable progress on recruitment and selection procedures for joint appointments, and on new formulations for future university academic contracts. New arrangements have also been agreed for buy-outs.

In terms of considering the actual academic workload of academic staff, the joint working party undertook extensive preparatory work with individual subject areas and colleges on optimal teaching arrangements. That has enabled the Personnel Committee to set out a broad framework for joint appointments: this involves retaining the key role of tutorials; where appropriate reducing levels of college teaching to a core and expanding faculty-organised small-group teaching to cover the margin hitherto arranged by colleges; refining quality assurance mechanisms in respect of centrally organised teaching; and providing that in most areas no appointee should be required to teach more than 360 units (as defined) in each year, the 360-unit maximum to be lower where subject areas and colleges can achieve this.

The Personnel Committee is clear that the way forward now is to encourage the new divisions and/or individual subject areas to engage in intensive discussions with the colleges, with the full involvement of subject tutors, with a view to streamlining teaching arrangements and reducing burdens within that broad framework. Any necessary changes to the detailed arrangements for academic duties in particular subject areas cannot and should not be imposed centrally. Full local involvement is required, with subject tutors determining, within the decision-making structures of the University and the colleges, how best to design the syllabus, to co-ordinate teaching, and to balance the academic duties of individual members of the academic staff.

The Personnel Committee has therefore now urged the divisional boards and through them the individual subject areas to pursue, as tutors see fit, detailed developments to streamline academic work and to reduce burdens at the individual level. The committee will retain broad oversight of the development of the joint appointments scheme through its Joint Appointments Panel, which has balanced university and college representation.

ACADEMIC SALARIES (INCLUDING ULNTFS)

Various different and difficult issues have also been discussed recently in the general field of academic salaries. All academic staff have an acute personal interest in policy development in this area, and their views and those of departments, faculties, divisions, and colleges tend to be strongly held and often divergent—for example on the desirability on the one hand of greater differentiation to enable the University to recruit, retain, and reward key staff, and on the other hand the danger this might present to collegiality and collaboration.

In this context the members of the Personnel Committee believe that it is important to bear in mind that concerns about general (and particular) salary levels are of course not confined to academic staff: they are as important and as complex to address in respect of non-teaching staff (although most non-academic and academic-related staff groups already have provisions for additional payments, in appropriate cases, beyond the top of the substantive scale on which the initial appointment is made). In developing policy on academic salaries the Personnel Committee must, because of its remit in respect of all university staff, have regard to current and developing approaches in other parts of the salary structure.

One particular issue on the academic side is the long-running question of the salaries of university lecturers holding non-tutorial fellowships (ULNTFs): here the members of the Personnel Committee are extremely heartened by the progress made by an ad hoc working group of college and university representatives convened to consider proposals made by the General Board. These proposals noted that a careful role analysis exercise had indicated broadly that those ULNTFs who took on a full teaching and administrative load equivalent to that of tutorial fellows merited, in terms of the skills required, an overall salary at the joint maximum (but not the additional payment in respect of full tutorial responsibility which the housing allowance represents). The problem has been to find a mechanism to reflect the different ways in which the work of such ULNTFs for the collegiate University is constituted, recognising that although the work of some ULNTFs is entirely for the University, others undertake regular work for undergraduate colleges (and virtually all devote a proportion of their time to their colleges of association). The problem has of course been exacerbated by the difficult financial position in which the colleges and the University find themselves. The solution seems likely to involve inviting all ULNTFs (as defined) to apply to join a new scheme permitting payment at the joint maximum at age 45; an assessment by the Joint Appointments Panel of the Personnel Committee as to whether the applicant will indeed have an overall teaching and administrative load equivalent to that of a tutorial fellow in the subject; if so, an assessment of the proportion of that load which can be ascribed to university purposes; direct payment by the University to successful applicants of a sum equivalent to that proportion of the joint maximum; and direct payments by the colleges at an agreed rate to successful applicants in respect of tutorial and equivalent work actually done for them, so that if the equivalent load is actually delivered, the ULNTF will overall receive the joint maximum.

The Personnel Committee has carefully considered whether it is desirable to make any consequential general changes to the salary structure for university readers, given that their maximum university salary is £39,718 and under the proposals set out above some ULNTFs will receive a university salary of £39,564. Noting that many readers in fact receive additional college emoluments, that not all ULNTFs will apply successfully to join the new scheme, and that traditionally the joint maxima for lecturers and readers have been very close in monetary terms, the committee has concluded that there is no case for a general increase in the stipends of all readers. As set out below, however, the committee does propose that readers should, like professors, be eligible to apply for distinction awards.

This point leads on to the most difficult area which the Personnel Committee has had to address, namely the central issue raised last Easter by the Committee on Academic Salaries through the General Board and the old Council: whether the maximum salaries of all lecturers should remain fixed in every case at the top of the current salary scales, or whether lecturers should in principle be able to be considered for additional payments in appropriate cases.

There was a diverse response from faculty boards, colleges, and individuals to the previous consultative paper on this (Supplement (2) to Gazette No. 4544, 26 April 2000, p. 1015). A large majority of faculty boards supported the principle of extending the availability of merit awards to lecturers, as did a smaller majority of those colleges which expressed a view. (Individual respondents were equally divided on the principle.) Overall, there was a very widespread acceptance that it was not appropriate for the University to be unable in any case, however exceptional the circumstances, to offer individual lecturers a salary beyond the top point of the current scales.

However, even those responses which were supportive of the general principle tended to be critical of the details of the model put forward by the General Board and the old Council. In part this criticism was directed at the detailed criteria proposed, at the extensive and time-consuming procedures suggested, and to a lesser extent at the range of staff groups it was thought should be eligible to apply under an extended scheme. Concerns were also raised about the interaction with other issues such as burdens and the ULNTF problem (on which see above); but by far the most consistent and telling criticism was directed at the proposed financial provision for the new scheme.

The General Board and the old Council, while expressing the hope that regular, well-funded exercises could be held under the suggested new provisions, had been able to guarantee only one such exercise, with a budget of £750K recurrent of new money. This was widely perceived as inadequate to reward all deserving cases properly. While the conservative approach of the General Board and the old Council was in part due to their inability to mandate their successors, it also reflected the University's difficult financial position. In the meantime these resource problems have unfortunately become worse (one result being that the £750K became one of the first casualties of the cuts necessary to balance the budget for 2000--1). Although some modest additional resources have now been promised by the DfEE to the higher education sector as a whole, these are guaranteed for the period 2001--4 only; and while some of the additional funds relate to salaries, it is unclear how much of this will be available for Oxford, and on what terms, and what proportion of it will be for differential payments as opposed to general salary increases.

Against this background, the Personnel Committee has given very careful consideration to how to proceed, noting that in the responses to the earlier consultation there were very few suggestions as to alternative ways forward, beyond much more generous funding of a revised version of the scheme proposed; and also that in a number of subject areas the firm view is that urgent action needs to be taken to provide more flexibility on salary to safeguard the University's academic position. While there is considerable support for some change in the current arrangements, it is less clear that there is a consensus on what exactly that change might be. One major and obvious problem is the current lack of sufficient resources to underpin desirable reforms in the general area of salaries, whether this be across-the-board pay increases, the introduction of regular, adequately funded, gathered-field exercises to reward academic staff on a discretionary basis, or a combination of both. The committee's first conclusion, then, in response to a consistent theme in the replies to the earlier consultative document, is that salary issues must be given a higher profile in the new budgeting process. Historically the scope for change in this area has been limited by the precommitment of resources for other purposes, with little if any room for manoeuvre left to deal with salary issues beyond the funding of general national pay awards. The view of the Personnel Committee is that the need to reward the University's staff adequately must instead become a primary and fundamental item in resource allocation procedures, with other costs being cut if necessary to fund desirable developments on pay.

The implications of this will take some time to work through, but the new governance structures will encourage the development of medium- and long-term policy in this area. In the interim, the Personnel Committee believes that some decisions to ease pressures over the recruitment, retention, and recognition and reward of staff can be taken within existing resources.

The earlier consultation revealed serious concern among faculty boards and colleges over the effect in certain cases of the level of payments at the lower end of the lecturer scales, in view of some particular difficulties in recruiting new lecturers, the general high costs of living in Oxford, and the varying availability of help from colleges in this connection. It is already possible for the salaries of lecturers to be paid within the normal scale up to five points above the relevant age-wage point, in pressing cases, and the committee believes that complete flexibility within the scale should in principle be available to divisions in future (but that the use of this flexibility must be funded within existing resources, and that the current robust criteria and procedures governing the award of extra increments should be maintained).

Because of the wide-ranging nature of the previous consultation, two familiar procedures which have previously received the clear approval of Congregation have been suspended, and the Personnel Committee believes, in the light of the responses it received, that they should now be reinstated. The first is the periodic gathered-field exercise to consider making new or enhanced distinction awards to statutory and ad hominem professors: the committee considers it vital to retain, within the current financial constraints, a process to enable the professoriate to be considered for additional remuneration above the Oxford professorial minimum in order to help the University to retain its attraction to the most senior staff in an increasingly competitive national and international context, and believes that the existing arrangements should now be extended to cover those holding the substantive post of reader. In line with previous decisions, a separate funding stream should also be maintained for distinction awards to incoming professors (and readers). The second procedure is the availability of the conferment of the title of professor or reader (without changes in duties or stipend) to recognise distinction. The consultation revealed virtually unanimous support for the retention of recognition of distinction, and the committee believes that there should be biennial exercises in this connection over the next few years (with provision for ad hoc decisions outside the normal gathered fields in pressing cases, and for monitoring any salary anomalies that may result).

Finally, in the current absence of sufficient funds to finance this adequately and in the light of the views expressed in the consultative exercise, the committee believes that there should at present be no general scheme as previously proposed under which all academic staff could be considered in a gathered field for merit awards. However, the committee notes the clear majority opinion in the responses in favour of the principle of extending merit awards to lecturers, and the almost unanimous opinion that it is wrong that in no case should additional payments ever be available above the top of the lecturer scales however strong the academic imperative. The committee therefore believes that the potential for flexibility should be introduced into the salary arrangements for lecturers to permit additional payments in exceptional cases. This would be part of the co-ordinated series of measures summarised below.

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS ON ACADEMIC SALARIES

(a) Consideration of the scope for and desirability of general salary increases, and/or the expansion of funds for targeted salary increases, should become a principal feature of the annual budgeting process, with both elements to be considered by the Planning and Resource Allocation Committee on the advice of the Personnel Committee and in the light of national funding developments.

(b) The current potential five-point flexibility within the university age-wage scale for lecturers should be extended to provide complete flexibility within that scale.

(c) Periodic exercises for professorial distinction awards should be reinstated, the next round to involve new or enhanced awards with effect from 1 October 2001, with statutory, `General Board', and ad hominem readers to be eligible to apply alongside statutory and ad hominem professors.

(d) A separate, adequately funded allocation to the Vice-Chancellor should be maintained for awards to incoming professors.

(e) Periodic exercises for the recognition of distinction should be reinstated, such exercises to be held biennially over the next few years, and the next exercise to occur in 2001--2.

(f) There should be provision for ad hoc recognition-of-distinction decisions to confer the title of reader or professor in the interim, and between future exercises, in pressing cases.

(g) A mechanism should be available to enable the making of additional payments to lecturers in exceptional cases relating to the overwhelming academic importance of recruiting, retaining, and rewarding key and distinguished staff. The mechanism under (g) above would run on the following lines:

(1) it would be limited to exceptional cases relating to the overwhelming academic importance of retaining, rewarding, and (perhaps to a lesser extent) recruiting key distinguished academic staff;

(2) those eligible would be those holding the university post of university lecturer, CUF lecturer, faculty lecturer, special (non-CUF) lecturer, assistant keeper, or keeper, and those holding the university title of CUF lecturer or university lecturer, i.e. broadly those senior staff who do not currently have access to discretionary salary arrangements (noting that these are already in place, for example, for academic-related research staff), with the Vice-Chancellor having discretion, on the advice of the Personnel Committee, to rule on eligibility in other cases;

(3) when considering making extra payments to lecturers, regard would be had to the framework for, and the distribution of, awards to professors under the existing professorial distinction awards scheme (bearing in mind the different demands of non-professorial posts);

(4) by definition there would be no gathered field, and no concomitant time-consuming procedures;

(5) payments would be funded by divisions, from within existing resources;

(6) it would be for heads of divisions to make the case for such payments in individual cases, in terms of the academic importance of so doing, and to provide firm evidence that the award would not lead to unacceptable salary anomalies within the division (in all cases), and that the normal stipend, plus all college income, would be significantly below the individual's prospective salary (in retention cases) or current salary (in recruitment cases). The Vice-Chancellor would consider the case, acquiring whatever evidence and taking such advice (e.g. from members of the Committee for Distinction Awards for Non-Clinical Professors) as seemed to him or her to be appropriate. An annual report on his or her decisions would be made in confidence to the Personnel Committee, decisions would be available for reference to the Committee for Distinction Awards for Non-Clinical Professors when that committee conducts its periodic exercises to consider new or enhanced awards to professors and readers, and a summary of all decisions on merit awards would be published in the Gazette following each such periodic exercise.

Council has approved all of the above principles, noting that the Personnel Committee will continue to discuss the detailed arrangements. In the light of those principles, Council has resolved to promote the following statute, which extends the availability of merit awards to lecturers and the equivalent of professorial distinction awards to readers.

WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for the payment of additional emoluments to the holders of academic posts, THE UNIVERSITY ENACTS AS FOLLOWS.

1 In Tit. X, Sect. I (Statutes, 2000, p. 71), delete existing provisos (b) and (c) and substitute:

`(b) the holders of all academic posts shall be paid under standard arrangements to be determined from time to time by Council, provided that this shall not prevent the payment of additional emoluments, which may be pensionable, (i) in the form of such allowances in respect of administrative responsibilities as may be prescribed by decree, or (ii) in the form of awards in recognition of academic distinction or contribution to academic work of the University in accordance with arrangements to be determined from time to time by Council;'.

2 Reletter existing provisos (d)--(i) (ibid., pp. 71--3) as provisos (c)--( h).

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