University welcomes end of pay dispute

STUDENTS and university bosses were yesterday celebrating the end of a pay dispute which had disrupted final year exams and put graduations under threat.

By Juliette Maxam

STUDENTS and university bosses were yesterday celebrating the end of a pay dispute which had disrupted final year exams and put graduations under threat.

The Association of University Teachers (AUT) at Essex University suspended its three-month-long assessment boycott with immediate effect yesterday , pending a ballot of its members, after a settlement was reached nationally.

Lecturers took the action after rejecting a 12.6% pay offer, spread over three years, from the University and Colleges Employers' Association (UCEA). Unions wanted a 25% rise.


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Talks between the UCEA and the University and College Union (an amalgamation of the AUT and National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education) resulted in the acceptance of a revised version of a subsequent 13.1% deal.

Combined with a new local pay framework agreement and annual progression up the pay scale, the national offer will generate pay increases of up to 35% between now and October 2008 for Essex academics.

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Normal marking procedures will now commence in all departments at the University.

Priority will be given to marking exams and coursework of students graduating this summer so that graduation can go ahead as normal in July.

The revised deal includes an independent review of higher education salaries, to report by autumn 2008 and facilitate future negotiations.

In a joint statement, Essex University vice chancellor Professor Sir Ivor Crewe and local AUT representative, Aulay Mackenzie said: “We very much welcome the resolution of this unfortunate dispute, and the unions' recommendation of a settlement, which will last for three years.

“We fully anticipate that students at the University of Essex will be able to graduate in July in the normal way and are grateful for the patience that they and their parents have shown during the dispute.”

An Essex University students' union spokeswoman said: “The Students' Union welcomes the decision of AUT and NATFHE (now UCU) to accept the new pay offer made by the university employers.

“We are delighted that our students will now have their work assessed, and be able to graduate on time.

“While we felt that the nature of the lecturers' action was damaging to our students' interests, we have always fought for better pay for academic staff, and we are pleased that they have now reached an agreement.”

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