Financial struggles of higher education workers revealed

A survey of more than 1,000 higher education workers by union Unite shows that staff across the sector are in need of a fair pay rise.

The survey of administrative, technical and estate staff revealed that in the last year eight per cent skipped meals and 32 per cent cut back on heating their homes. More than four fifths of respondents (82 per cent) said they are worse off now than they were 18 months ago.

Nearly half (48 per cent) had no money or less than £50 left at the end of each month. Over half (52 per cent) are worried about rent and mortgage payments if their pay doesn’t rise, while 72 per cent are worried about paying for essentials such as food, petrol and heating for the same reason.

The survey comes as Unite, as part of the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (New JNCHES), meets with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). Unite will warn the UCEA that the imposed 2023/24 pay award of five per cent for most workers is not sufficient to enable staff to cope with the cost of living crisis.

Unite says the deal is a significant real terms pay cut given that when it was imposed in March, the real rate of inflation, RPI, stood at 13.5 per cent.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will be making it clear to UCEA that the 2023/24 pay deal is entirely inadequate and must be improved.

“Anger is growing across the sector as more and more workers struggle to keep their heads above water. The UCEA needs to understand that if a better offer is not forthcoming, Unite will be doing everything it can to help higher education workers take strike action for fair pay.”