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I've just seen a job advertised by a London university for a job similar to mine but as senior lecturer. I'm confused because the bottom end of the salary listed is lower than what I am currently on as just a lecturer, and I'm not in London so this is without any kind of London weighting.

The only way it could possibly be worth me applying is if they started me at the top end of the scale they suggest. But that's unlikely to happen, isn't it?

I thought the salary scales of UK universities were quite similar, but this suggests there are huge differences.

I don't quite understand why anyone would apply for this job that pays less than jobs outside London, which is a much more expensive place to live.

Thoughts?

  • Were both jobs in the same field? In some fields, universities compete with big companies for strong people, and thus have an incentive to pay more. – lighthouse keeper Nov 24 '19 at 21:31
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    @lighthousekeeper that's not really how the salary scales work in the UK university sector – Yemon Choi Nov 24 '19 at 22:05
  • Yes, both jobs in exactly the same field. Almost identical jobs, except this new one is senior lecturer. – MarkyMark Nov 25 '19 at 12:14
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In post-92 universities, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer together form the same salary range as a Lecturer in a traditional (pre-92) university. A Principal Lecturer in a post-92 university would have the same salary as a Senior Lecturer in a pre-92 university. Some universities in the UK also operate Assistant and Associate Professors, which further complicates matters.

A more meaningful description is the Grade: Grade 7 for entry-level Lecturer, Grade 8 for more experienced, Grade 9 for Senior(pre-92)/Principal(post-92) and Grade 10 for Reader.

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  • Unfortunately the Grade is also not constant across the sector: my institution uses grades 4-7 (with 7 being full Prof). Spine points on the national scale are better still, with entry level at around 27, next level at 35, next (Associate Prof/SL at pre-92/PL at post-92) at 44. – Ian Nov 24 '19 at 21:50
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A scale is just a scale: A range within which the university will pay. If they decide that you are the best qualified candidate, they will have to figure out whether it's worth their money to also hire you. Since you're already making a salary at the upper end of the range, it's clear to everyone that they will have to go towards the upper end of their range to have a chance of getting you.

But you will never find out whether you're their top candidate if you don't apply. The worst that can happen is that they don't think that you're their best candidate; the second worst that they think that you're their top candidate, but they can't afford you. Neither of these outcomes are particularly bad for you given that you already have a job.

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  • They've suggested the best they'll offer is matching what I am already getting. So as far as I'm concerned there's no point going through the process of applying. I'm better off sticking with my current job. They are offering no incentive for me to apply at all. I'm baffled. – MarkyMark Nov 25 '19 at 12:18
  • Well, then don't apply for the job -- an employer is not required to offer anything that every applicant finds appealing. There may be others who find the offer attractive because they don't currently have a job, or because they have other reasons for moving to London. – Wolfgang Bangerth Nov 25 '19 at 15:20
  • Thanks - I'm not going to. I'm just surprised that a London based university would do this, and wondered if there might be specific reasons why they are offering a much lower amount than I thought was typical in the UK. They might well attract applicants who don't have a job, but I can't see how they'll attract those who are already working. It just seems like a strange tactic... – MarkyMark Nov 25 '19 at 21:59
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The UK academic salary uniquely depends on the scale point which they use nationally. For example, if they offer you 45 then your salary is fixed, regardless of which U you work for. The salary range of your position (rank) is specified by the point system as well, but in most U, there are some overlapping in across ranks. For example, lecturers run from 39-46, and senior lecture from 44-50 (I made up the numbers). As a result, if you are at the top scale of a lecturer, you may make more than a senior lecturer at the bottom.

But when they make you an offer, they will take your current salary into account and usually make an offer higher than that.

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  • I emailed and asked. They replied saying they would match my current salary. But that isn't good enough for me. My current salary is as a lecturer and outside London, this job is as a senior lecturer inside London. It needs to pay a lot more than it does for it to be worth my while. – MarkyMark Nov 25 '19 at 12:12

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