Reward in higher education shows strong but patchy growth

Pay increases in higher education averaged a healthy 3.5% in the 12 months to February 2020, but increases were not distributed evenly across the sector and the future impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on employee reward is unknown.

UK universities and higher education institutions may be entering a period of adversity but they do so off the back of strong employee earnings growth within the sector. The latest XpertHR/UCEA salary survey shows that average salaries increased by 3.5% in the year to February 2020, but increases were concentrated at the lower end of the pay scale and in pre-1992 universities.

The XpertHR Higher Education Salary Survey allows employers in the sector to make reward decisions with confidence, using data on 245,124 employees from 103 universities. Subscribers get access to the pay data, pay trends reports and XpertHR's suite of online and offline reward analysis tools.

The research reveals that employees in lower pay grades for both academic and non-academic roles saw average pay increases approaching 4%. Movements at this end of the pay range will in part have been driven by national minimum wage increases. More substantial pay increases were also seen in pre-1992 universities, particularly within the Russell Group of universities, where academics received average basic salary increases approaching 4.5%.

Since the end of the last recession annual pay increases in higher education have averaged between 1.7% and 3.6%. Over the same 10-year period CPI inflation has fluctuated between zero and 5%, so real earnings growth has been more modest.

More information about XpertHR salary surveys.