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Higher education academic salaries in the UK

By James Walker, Anna Vignoles and Mark Collins


It is widely believed that higher education academic salaries are too low, and that this may lead to a ‘brain drain’ and also lower quality in higher education, as universities fail to attract the ‘brightest and the best’. We compare the salaries of Higher Education teaching professionals in the UK with those of other comparable professionals. We compare academic salaries to a range of occupational groupings that one might view as similar, in terms of unobserved characteristics, to academics. We conclude that HE teaching professionals earn lower earnings than most public sector graduates and do particularly poorly compared to most other comparable professionals. In particular, academic earnings compare poorly to those in the legal professions, consultant physicians and dental practitioners (across both the public and private sectors). On the other hand, some public sector workers do worse than HE academics, e.g. FE teachers

Year: 2009
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