By Daniel Hunter

As Mayor of London Boris Johnson announces the new UK Living Wage rate in London this morning (Monday), UNISON and NUS publishes new research that reveals the extent of low pay at universities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Findings showed:

•12,592 employees are paid less than the Living Wage by UK universities
•More than half of universities (57 per cent) have paid less than the minimum wage, amounting to 80 institutions across the UK
•The median lowest wage of staff in UK universities is under Living Wage at £7.39
•There are five universities having more than 500 staff paid less than the Living Wage and 39 universities with more than 100 employees paid less than the Living Wage

NUS and UNISON are calling for every university in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to become accredited Living Wage employers.

Together, they commissioned this research using freedom of information requests (FOIs) that aimed to give student campaigners an institution by institution context of low pay and outsourcing.

Although the report cites the prevalence of pay below Living Wage in higher education institutions, it also highlights campaign successes, commending those universities* who have been accredited as Living Wage employers since UNISON and NUS student unions’ campaign began.

NUS Vice President Dom Anderson said: “Living Wage Week is a celebration, so it’s important to recognise and commend those who are showing leadership. However, the higher education strikes last week displayed the understandable strength of feeling about the lack of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work in too many of our universities.

“This means that although we are celebrating Living Wage accredited universities such as Salford and Huddersfield, and universities such as Loughborough who have committed to the Living Wage for their in-house staff, our campaign continues.

“The simple fact is that higher wages are fed back into our economy. They also represent a significant saving to taxpayers, who otherwise subsidise low-paying employers through in-work benefits and tax credits.”

Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary said: “This research shows that while vice-chancellors are enjoying six figures salaries, many more university workers are at the bottom of the pay scale, struggling to survive on less than the Living Wage. The value of their pay keeps on falling, while the cost of basics such as food and fuel keeps on rising.

“UNISON is working hard with universities to bring in the Living Wage, not just for directly employed staff but for the many others who have been contracted out. Universities could not get by without our members working in a wide variety of jobs supporting students on campus, in libraries, course administration, catering, cleaning and security. A living wage is enough to provide workers and their families with the basics of a decent life that is a lesson all universities should learn.”

Julie Mcclelland, Director of HR Huddersfield said: “We are proud to be an accredited Living Wage Employer, the second university in the UK to do this. We commit to the Living Wage for all our staff, regardless of whether people are employed on permanent or casual contracts.”

Rob Allan, Director of HR at Loughborough University, said: “The minimum adult hourly rate of pay was increased for Loughborough University staff earlier this year, bringing it into line with the current Living Wage set by the Living Wage Foundation. The move was made in partnership with our trade union colleagues and helps to reinforce the University’s position as an Employer of Choice in the UK.”

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