7 October 2022

Created on: 11 Oct 2022 | Last modified: 23 Feb 2023





Dear Member

As we proceed onto the autumn, the cost-of-living crisis is biting hard. Doubtless you will have noticed the surge in your bills and prices at the checkout. This is only going to get worse in the short months ahead.

RPI has hit 12.3%; there are massively increasing fuel, energy and household costs; and your pay needs to meet these cost-of-living expenditures.

A 3% offer from your employers in this pay round, combined with year-on-year sub-inflationary pay awards, is simply going to compound the cost-of-living crisis for university academics.

These worries are not shared by all university staff - there is brighter news for some. If you are a Principal in a Scottish University, you are doing just fine – no swapping to supermarkets’ own brands for you!

In 2020 there were no Principals in Scotland earning under £187,000 pa and most were earning higher salaries, with perks like residences and chauffeurs on top. Undernoted is a table showing the emoluments for HE Principals in Scotland in 2020. We note in 2020, HE staff had a pay freeze, despite all your work in the pandemic to keep institutions operating.

Higher Education Institution

Principals’ Emoluments (£) (inc. salaries, cash in lieu of pension contributions and benefits in kind etc.)

University of Aberdeen


University of Abertay


University of Dundee

173,000 *1

University of Edinburgh


Edinburgh Napier University


University of Glasgow


Glasgow Caldonian University


Glasgow School of Art


Heriot Watt University



224,000 *2

Queen Margaret University


Robert Gordon University

224,959 *3

University of Glasgow


University of St Andrews


University of Stirling


University of Strathclyde




Source: HEIS Financial Accounts 2020-21

*1 Dundee - New permanent Principal’s salary figure available only from 1 Jan 2021 

*2 UHI – New Principal appointed on 1 Feb 2021 with two previous interim Principals

*3 RGU – New Principal appointed 1 Sept 2021, previous Principal left on 31 Aug


Unfortunately, UCEA have indicated that they do not intend to make an acceptable offer on pay for academic staff this year. Having attended two dispute meetings, the employers decided not to improve their “final offer”. As usual, instead of trying to settle the dispute by negotiating with the unions properly, UCEA have advised their institutions to impose the pay offer and bypass further negotiation with your representatives.

They just plough on with the usual policy of cutting the real terms value of pay and the cost-of-living crisis is just ignored. This must stop. Taking action is the only way it will.

This year St Andrew’s University was named the best in the UK. That’s because of the staff – the teaching staff, the research staff, the academic related staff. These are the people who build reputations, and they should receive fair remuneration for their effort.

Staff joined Universities precisely because of their commitment to academic pursuit, excellence in education and contribution to wider society. You deserve to be paid properly, and not have year upon year of real terms pay cuts imposed on you.

It’s not right that staff should be working harder while pay declines in value. It’s not fair that those contributing to our society, economy and the future of students should be subject to year-on-year real terms cuts while the pay of university Principals soars.

Since 2009, academics’ pay has hugely declined in real terms while the pay of Principals has increased vastly. In Scotland, the First Minister earns £157,861, that’s less than every university Principal in Scotland. The Cabinet Secretary for Education is earning £112,919 – that’s not even half of what some Principals are taking home! The money to pay ordinary staff fairly in HE exists, it’s just going into the pockets of the few, while they plead poverty in pay negotiations.

In recent years, even the Scottish Government has had to ask Principals and senior staff to demonstrate restraint in their own pay awards, while all the time your pay has been declining in value.

In order to make the employers improve their pay offer, industrial action will be required. Your EIS-ULA Executive is therefore asking you to vote YES to Strike Action in this statutory ballot. Remember you must post your ballot back in time for it to be counted, so please act now and get it done.

It’s time to show the employers that they must pay fair wages to all HE Staff. You can show your support for the campaign by voting today and encouraging your colleagues to do so too.

Follow our Facebook and twitter account and download the latest campaign materials.

Vote Today!