Academic common room
Appraisal - what are the most pathetic excuses for no salary increase?
ILoveEngland · 28/01/2018 20:51
Out of interest, I'd like to know if I'm the only one battling bullshit in HE when it comes to salary.
I've just had my appraisal (5 months late, and almost half way thru this academic year). I'm head of department in a business school.
I've been in the job almost 7.5 years.
I prepared for it to evidence all the extra work I've done and highlighted the successes of my department. I also had to explain and give solutions to things that didn't work out so well - namely imposed projects.
My new boss told me that I don't need a pay Increase, just "serenity at work to collaborate with my colleagues and increase efficiency."
I've heard some B.S. in my time, but this takes the biscuit!
Can anyone beat that?!!
Very interested to hear!
user1494149444 · 29/01/2018 09:00
The underlying reason could be given the massive uncertainty in HE, nobody is getting pay rises at the moment (well except the VCs).
That could be why he mentioned efficiency, which basically means we are running out of money.
UnimaginativeUsername · 29/01/2018 09:06
Pay rises aren’t even a part of my appraisal process. It’s a completely pointless exercise in the university pretending they give a shit about is as far as I can tell. You get a chat with your line manager who tells you you’ve done well but has absolutely no power to influence even your workload never mind your pay.
Even if I wasn’t, I’m on the top of my pay scale with no prospect of promotion (ever, as far as I can tell, because the university have made it completely impossible) anyway. It’s not what you’d call a motivating work environment.
ShowMeTheElf · 29/01/2018 09:08
I'm a senior scientist in the private sector now (previously academic). I was told at an appraisal by a matrix manager (ie not my superior and nearly 10 years my junior) that I already earned more than him and he wouldn't sanction a payrise.
I suggested a cross industry benchmarking exercise as we were bleeding young talent. Ended up with far more than I'd originally asked for, as did all the scientific consultants, and we effectively golden handcuffed a tranche of high fliers. The managers still come and go though.
PastaOfMuppets · 29/01/2018 09:09
Wow, at my uni we only get a pay rise if we basically get a promotion ... and word is that the committee to oversee and give response/feedback for promotion applications is that the committee members get a bonus every time they can come up with a reason not to award the promotion
UnimaginativeUsername · 29/01/2018 09:15
One of my colleagues has just left because a better ranked university offered her a chair, while our university wouldn’t even promote her to associate professor. Apparently she wasn’t even close to meeting the promotion criteria. That’s how utterly impossible promotion is where I am.
GrasswillbeGreener · 29/01/2018 09:23
Unimaginative your situation sounds similar to my husband's - he has been in his job over 8 years and I don't think has had a payrise ever in that time. Keeps getting told he only needs to tick a couple more boxes to apply for a payrise, then they restructure and the opportunities aren't there; he won't even try applying for promotion.
UnimaginativeUsername · 29/01/2018 09:30
Yeah. It’s shit. I’m kind of stuck with it though as we’re staying in this city where we both have jobs. DH has promotion prospects and a good career in a different university, but I’m watching my career wither and die.
The thing is, the university I work for is full of people who feel as totally demotivated as I am and with no feelings of loyalty or goodwill whatsoever. So they hire people who leave within two years and anyone who stays only does so because they’re stuck for whatever reason. I’m sure the university exec will all receive nice pay rises for their excellent performance in creating a completely shit working environment though.
user1494149444 · 29/01/2018 09:36
Yes, it really does come down to the institution. Those which have been well managed for the last ten years have accumulated enough funding to keep their staff fairly motivated and offer promotions and payrises when applicable.
The ones which have been built on an unsound business model - and there are lots of them particularly among the former polys - are losing staff, and the strongest researchers are being tapped up by the stronger institutions.
Exeter was like this - staff were worked very very hard to get it into the top 10, and there were a lot of complaints, but in the long term it worked, and now the staff there are on good contracts because Exeter is now able to tap into the top funding streams. They are still recruiting quite heavily when a lot of institutions are now not at all.
user369060 · 29/01/2018 10:39
Those which have been well managed for the last ten years have accumulated enough funding to keep their staff fairly motivated and offer promotions and payrises when applicable.
This isn't completely correct. There are institutions running significant surpluses that are freezing salaries/reducing staff. The only justification for doing so is the possible cut in fees after the HE review, because current finances do not force this.
The UK HE sector does rely on the fact that it is hard for many academics to move - in terms of moving families, moving research groups, finding comparably senior positions (in many fields only lecturer positions are available) etc. Since it's hard for people to move, people do put up with very poor treatment.
user1494149444 · 29/01/2018 13:38
"This isn't completely correct. There are institutions running significant surpluses that are freezing salaries/reducing staff. The only justification for doing so is the possible cut in fees after the HE review, because current finances do not force this."
Yes, but given the uncertainty around HE, that would be a sensible strategy. If tuition fees are reduced to £3k, and the government doesn't make up for the difference, then a lot of universities are in trouble.
Regarding the idea that academics are easy to manipulate because it is hard for them to move, I would argue the opposite is the case. Academics have always been some of the most mobile workers, it's expected that an academic will have to move across the country, if not across the pond, to develop their career and they plan accordingly.
Academics should try getting out more and seeing how ruthless it can be in the corporate world. I don't really resonate with the OPs complaints, at a time when hardly anybody in any sector is getting a payrise.
But the thing to get worked up about are the attacks on your pensions, rather than incremental payrises.
For my money, I think Corbyn will win the next election, as people are increasingly fed up with the insecurity which corporate culture breeds.
user369060 · 29/01/2018 13:40
If tuition fees are reduced to 3k then all universities are in trouble, not just some.
Academics have always been some of the most mobile workers, it's expected that an academic will have to move across the country.
This is true at early career stages. It is not true for established career researchers. Apart from REF superstars, moves in many fields have been rare, as it is hard to move e.g. an entire lab or research centre.
user369060 · 29/01/2018 13:41
But the thing to get worked up about are the attacks on your pensions, rather than incremental payrises.
Both are important. Freezing pay for many years effectively means a substantial decrease in pay.
fourmileswide · 29/01/2018 13:49
"Well you do the accounts, you know that we haven't got any money"
- I was told this, after the boss had recently ordered a new company car.
user1494149444 · 29/01/2018 13:52
"This is true at early career stages. It is not true for established career researchers. Apart from REF superstars, moves in many fields have been rare, as it is hard to move e.g. an entire lab or research centre."
But the uncertainty which faces early career researchers is increasingly facing established researchers. I'm just looking at this from a university leadership perspective, given the huge changes.
The biggest change to hit academia is that the undermining of the tenured, protected professor. That is the fault of government policy, starting with the scrapping of polys, then with the ridiculous expansion of higher ed, then the tripling of tuition fees. This is not the fault of individual university management, although I recognise the sector is increasingly attracting many sharks in those positions who exploit those changes.
When the senior academics retire, and the now junior academics move in to replace them, they will have nowhere near the same security. Many career REF superstars I know have chosen to take early retirement as they are so fed up with everything or gone abroad; that will not be the case for people now in their 30s when they reach their late 50s.
I suppose my main point is that the last remnant of the golden age of higher ed - the decent pension - is going to disappear. Too many people have been channelled down the doctoral pipeline on the expectation that higher ed expansion could continue indefinitely; short-term political decision have led to a long-term systematic problem.
ILoveEngland · 29/01/2018 19:14
Thank you for your responses.
This makes such grim reading. I've asked for a second meeting as I'm not happy with this reason in my situation. I'm not holding my breath!
Does anyone know of people who've left HE to go into another industry successfully? I'm 52 and in a non-academic role, although head of department. I teach but do not hold a phd or have published. I'd like to know if my skills are transferable.
MedSchoolRat · 03/02/2018 10:33
As for excuses for no pay rise... You could be far further down the food chain in a research setting, on a fixed term contract where the only money available for your salary is what they put in the grant bid 2 years ago. At least you had some room to ask for more.
DH has been made redundant 3x from private sector, so don't think that "industry" is safe. Employment insecurity is much worse in private sector than academia or public sector.
nakedscientist · 03/02/2018 15:23
Ilove "serenity at work to collaborate with my colleagues and increase efficiency.
That sounds like a coded message saying don't shout and argue with people and maybe you have to cut some staff.
I have obviously no idea whether that's sexist/unfair crap or spot on!
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