I've been offered a faculty position at a British university (Russel group). I'm slightly confused about the pay/salary. specifically, my questions are:

  1. I understand the single pay national spine (which is a point system), but each institution decides what point range would correspond to the grade of the post? for example, while at institution A, a point 44 position would be in grade 7, at institution B it would be grade 8? Is this a correct understanding?

  2. I found from UCU the spine for 2017-2018, for the point that I'm assigned, i see that my stated salary is a lot LESS than what is stated on this chart (and I've checked with my university, they do use this single spine chart). Therefore, I was wondering if the salary they told me is in fact AFTER income tax and national insurance (NI)? (i.e. the £ they quote me is in fact what I take home?). Or is this my wishful thinking? Or am I reading the wrong chart?

I've seen other posts on here noting that salary in the UK is not that negotiable (compared to north America). I was wondering if this is still true? for the record, I've already inquired with the University and they told me they've already assigned me the highest points possible given my experience.

Mostly I'm just trying to understand this pay grade and point system so I can make realistic calculation for my living arrangements.


  • 1
    The amount of tax you pay depends on a personal circumstances. So if an employer posts a wage range for an employee that they hope to find, so don't know yet, then they obviously cannot compute the take home wage. They can obviously make a guess, but for them it is much safer to just report the gross wage. That is something they have direct control over. This prevents future employees being disappointed if they need to pay more tax than anticipated. Employees being disappointed about wage is no fun for all involved. So, if you can prevent that, then that is worth it. Jun 7, 2018 at 8:14
  • What is the title of the job you have been offered. It is "lecturer" or is it something else?
    – JenB
    Jun 8, 2018 at 16:50

1 Answer 1

  1. Yes. Internal "grades" usually don't transfer between institutions.
  2. I have just compared my (Russell Group, UK) university pay scale against the UCU one you link to and it is identical. That scale is gross, before tax, pay. I would expect net, take-home, pay to be about 30% less (after PAYE tax, National Insurance, and pension).

It is usual that the best I would expect you to be able to negotiate is one or two points on the spine system, in my experience.

  • thanks! is the single pay spine a requirement? or the university is allowed to not follow it? I found another table from my university that "includes on-costs", it lists the salary that I was quoted, the NI, pension, etc. and combined to give a new figure, YET it still is less than the UCU chart, I don't understand. I want to ask the university but don't want to appear rude. I understand that academia in the UK pays less than it does in North America, but when I do my budgeting I find that it's kind of hard to live on the salary they quote me. hence am trying to understand. what do people do?
    – PandaPants
    Jun 7, 2018 at 7:25
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    I thought the single pay spine is a requirement. Some universities might be slow at giving nationally-agreed pay rises, but that chart is from August 2017 so it's unlikely it's that. Some universities do some tax tricks which means that the cash value of the deductions plus the actual net salary doesn't match the gross, but that should again work in your favour. I think you'll need to talk to HR/Finance to get them to explain, here: that should be part of their job.
    – Ian
    Jun 7, 2018 at 8:32
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    @PandaPants: The single pay spine is compulsory for any university that either recognizes the any of the unions in the Joint Higher Education Trade Union National Claim (JHETUNC) or is a member or the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). As far as I'm aware that includes all Russel Group Unis. At my uni I would expect junior faculty to start at grade 8 (people with principle responsibility for both research and teaching), which covers points 37-43 (up to 47 in exceptional circumstances) which is £39,992-£47,722 before tax. Jun 7, 2018 at 8:42

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