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I got a job offer from a UK university as a lecturer. I accepted the written offer and started start-up package negotiations.

I did not get anything cause it is a small university so I had a counteroffer to get my salary higher but of course, it did not work out and got a response that this is a very late time to negotiate salary.

Is there something else I should negotiate at this point? or just accept it?

Note for those who ask: I received advice from one of the directors at the university that they do not provide a start-up package so I did not negotiate and accepted the offer. then I had a meeting with the dean and he asked me to provide him with what I needed. I provided him with a list of things I need and I get a response from the dean that it is very late to negotiate these things.

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    Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's not entirely clear what you are trying to achieve. Are you asking how to word a letter where you accept what was initially offered?
    – Andrea
    Feb 21, 2023 at 10:55
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    Lecturer salaries in the UK are determined by collective bargaining between Universities UK and the University and College Union. Individual salary negotiations are not really done at all, so I'm not sure what the "late time" thing is about. Feb 21, 2023 at 13:36
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    @DanielHatton While the scales are set nationally, its perfectly possible to hire someone at a pay point higher than the lowest point in the grade. Feb 21, 2023 at 14:09
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    I don't understand -- wouldn't you negotiate on everything before accepting an offer?? Feb 21, 2023 at 15:17
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    I find that the question is lacking so much context that it is impossible to really understand what you are asking. I hope that this is not the style of emails you used in your negotiations with the university. Feb 21, 2023 at 18:18

3 Answers 3

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Negotiation is a very cold game: if you are not willing to walk away, then there is no negotiation and you will just have to accept whatever the other side is offering.

It can still pay to talk: You may be able to get things that are cheap to the employer but valuable to you. For example the university may have a reserved number of spots at a child care facility and these represent a "sunk cost" for the university. Or you might be able to convince them to invest in you, e.g. allow you to teach fewer courses in the first couple of semesters, so you can develop them as good courses. As a consequence after those initial semesters they have a lecturer with a portfolio of quality courses.

As to your question: If the response came from the university level, then you are just one of many. They will have seen these attempts at negotiation many many times before, and will have forgotten your very existence the moment they pushed the sent button and moved on to the next thing that needs to be done. This negotiation is important to you, but for them it is just item 367 of the 8,563 items that need to be done that day. So don't overthink your response. Keep it short, to the point, and polite.

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  • "Negotiation is a very cold game: if you are not willing to walk away, then there is no negotiation and you will just have to accept whatever the other side is offering." - There is also the possibility of pretending you are willing to walk away. Risky, though. Feb 21, 2023 at 21:45
  • @user253751 In principle you are right, but in practice you have to remember that the persons you are negotiating with have done this many many many times before. They know when you are bluffing. The likely outcome is that they will call your bluff, to teach you a lesson, and than give you an off-ramp and still let you accept on their terms. Feb 22, 2023 at 8:54
  • I think you have slightly more to negotiate with. You don't have much power if both parties know you will take the job, but for small demands a kind off social pressure can work. Just asking for something and having your potential employer know that you will be less happy not getting something can sometimes be enough. Even if you already decided you are taking the job the one thing you have left to negotiate about is in a sense how happy you will be once there. Sometimes reason or appealing to decency can just work even if the other party doesn't really gain much (except a happy empolyee).
    – Kvothe
    Feb 22, 2023 at 13:19
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I accepted the written offer and started start-up package negotiations

Caveat that I'm not familiar with how things work specifically in the UK so maybe there is some difference there, but from a US perspective at least, a negotiation is about getting to an offer you can accept. Your only leverage in a negotiation over a job is to say or imply "I will not accept this offer; here are things you could change in the offer that would make me accept it". From there, you might be offered what you asked for, or there might be further counter-offers or discussions leading to a mutual agreeable offer, or else one of the parties walks away.

You accepted the offer, so your negotiating is done. From the perspective of the university, you've agreed to the terms they stated. It feels odd to them that now, after having accepted this offer, you've asked for more. They may wonder how many more times in the future you will ask for something additional that they can't provide.

It seems there are some communication barriers between you and the dean/directors: when they've asked what you "need", they clearly had something different in mind than you. I can't begin to guess, so you should probably ask them to clarify.

Again, things may differ in the UK, but in the US I would interpret a position without available start-up funds to be effectively a teaching-only position, where the institution doesn't have interest (at least not the sort of interest that will separate them from their money) in your research program, but is rather hiring you primarily to teach. Alternatively, they view you as sufficiently advanced in your career that you are not in need of start-up funds as you are expected to have or obtain extramural grant funding.

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    > "Again, things may differ in the UK, but in the US I would interpret a position without available start-up funds to be effectively a teaching-only position" -- I'm afraid this is totally wide of the mark. In the UK it is extremely rare for entry-level positions (lecturer, etc) to come with start-up funds, whether they are teaching-oriented or not. Feb 22, 2023 at 6:52
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In the UK there is typically no negotiations for the entry-level academic posts, such as Lecturer. You may be able to negotiate you starting salary a bit (one or two spinal points) but that's about it.

There is nothing wrong in trying, as any University may be able and willing to make exceptions to attract exceptional candidates. But if you are not prepared to walk away, you do not have much leverage for the talks and are at disadvantage.

Welcome to UK adademia and good luck!

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