Dear BU students,
Thank you for your patience during this period of UCU industrial action. I am grateful to those of you who have taken the time to write to me and speak with me.
I was pleased to have the opportunity to respond to questions from students at the University Question Time event organised by SUBU on Thursday. Questions included the current industrial action as well as student feedback mechanisms, inclusivity and the impact of Brexit. In our regular catch-up with SUBU earlier this week they sought clarification on some of the issues being raised by UCU.
Equal pay and the gender pay gap
When we look at equal pay for equal work, I’m proud to say our data shows that there is no significant difference between men and women undertaking the same role or an equivalent role at BU, and this is also the case when we look at race or disability. We are taking action to support development, progression and achievement for all and address gaps and challenges to ensure equality and support inclusivity, and this is reflected in our BU2025 strategic plan.
The gender pay gap is calculated using the overall average hourly pay for all men and women employed at BU. Our gender pay gap at BU is 17%. This gap is significantly influenced by the distribution of men and women across different grades in both academic and professional services and support roles, partly as a result of historical patterns of employment. Our gender pay report identifies the actions we are taking to reduce this gap and the progress we are making. This report includes information about promotion and pay progression for men and women, which is an increasingly positive story. There is clearly more to do in this area and we are working hard to address this challenge.
The average salary of an academic member of staff at BU is £48,677 and for a professor is £71,437. The minimum cost of living increase that all staff have received this year is 1.8%. Staff on the lowest grades received a larger increase.
On top of that, academic staff also receive an incremental increase each year until they reach a defined point of their pay scale. Academic staff are also able to apply for promotion via an academic pay progression process. Staff who are successful in this annual process progress to a higher grade and a higher salary band.
For academic staff we have an agreed workload planning model which allows flexibility for different staff circumstances. There may be individual concerns about the transition to this new arrangement which need to be addressed within departments and we are working with UCU to ensure the model is implemented as consistently as possible.
We have worked hard to enable staff on short-term contracts to have more job security, including transferring staff from hourly paid and fixed term contracts onto permanent contracts, and we keep this under review.
We provide flexible working arrangements as well as family-friendly benefits.
People are at the heart of our BU2025 strategic plan
Our BU2025 strategic plan reflects our commitment to creating a healthy, sustainable working, learning and social environment for our whole community at BU. We are committed to ensuring that we have a vibrant learning community at BU, which includes development opportunities for our staff.
We value all of our BU staff, their commitment, their creativity, their knowledge and their achievements. I recently had the pleasure of hosting the annual VC Staff Awards where we celebrated staff at all levels from Faculties and Professional Services who have made an outstanding contribution at BU, as nominated by their colleagues. In January I will celebrate with staff who have achieved qualifications relevant to their role.
Staff wellbeing is an important priority, and BU offers a comprehensive programme aimed to support and promote staff wellbeing for all staff, irrespective of their contract type.
With members of the University Executive Team, I meet regularly with UCU and Unison, the two recognised trade unions at BU, and work with them on a range of areas that affect staff at BU.
Whilst I cannot support the UCU strike action for the reasons I have given above, I agree that it would be good for everyone that dispute is resolved as quickly as possible. UCEA (the employers body leading the negotiations nationally) and UCU met on 26 November 2019 and will continue to be in touch with a view to resolving the dispute.
Please let me reassure you that we are working hard to minimise any impact that the strike action may have on your experience and your learning. I will keep you informed as the situation progresses.
Professor John Vinney
For more information and updates about the Industrial Action at BU, please check the student news pages.