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Out of curiosity I did a search of average salary of a Lecturer and Assistant Professor in the UK on indeed. There was a significant difference in the average salary for the two positions.

What I do not understand is that in the UK a Lecturer position is equivalent to an Assistant Professor position in the USA, so, how come there's such a big gap in salary for these two positions in the UK?

Shouldn't Lecturer position be the same as the Assistant Professor in the UK as well?

Average Lecturer salary in United Kingdom: https://uk.indeed.com/career/lecturer/salaries?from=top_sb

Average Assistant Professor salary in United Kingdom: https://uk.indeed.com/career/assistant-professor/salaries?from=top_sb

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    I believe this is a perverse selection effect - the "Assistant Professor" title is used in the UK only by a few top universities who want to copy US standards with respect to titles (and perhaps get around union negotiated salaries) - naturally top universities pay more than average. Jan 15 at 21:44
  • Makes sense but the difference in average salary is huge. Almost 35% increase from a Lecturer's. That doesn't make sense.
    – Somdip Dey
    Jan 15 at 21:48
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    In the US, an assistant professor at MIT probably gets paid more than double an assistant professor at Berea - so variation between universities is huge. Jan 15 at 21:51
  • Location, stature, demand, and other factors determine salary. It's extremely hard to compare within the US much less between the US and another country. This doesn't even include positions listed as lecturer that are visiting assistant professor or assistant professor positions under a different name. Jan 15 at 22:07
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    If you look at the "top companies for lecturers in the UK" only one of them is actually a university. It seems to me that Indeed is including various employers, like professional training companies, and secondary colleges (that teach kids 16-18 years old) that use the title "Lecturer" in its calculation. Jan 15 at 22:20

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Firstly, note that not all jobs in the UK with the title "Lecturer" will be at universities. Many further education colleges (which mostly teach teenagers, between 16-18) use the job title lecturer, as do several private training companies. I'm pretty confident that no one in the UK works as a university lecture and is only paid £34k. But there could be another reason for the difference:

UK academia pays people on a single pay spine, nationwide (except, oddly, for Imperial College). This is divided into approximate 50 pay points (I think). Universities may decide which points on that pay spine relate to which jobs. That said, there isn't that much in the variation between universities of a similar class (except Imperial).

The job title "Assistant Professor" is new to the UK, although an increasing number of universities are using it (Including Oxford, Warwick, Leeds etc). At the universities that have changed over, it was a direct substitution for the title Lecturer (everyone who was Lecturer became assistant professor).

There are two be categories on university in the UK, the pre-92s, and the post-92s. The post-92s are so called because before 1992 they were not called universities, but rather "polytechnic colleges", and taught vocational subjects, while universities stuck to academic subjects. The post-92s tend to be more focused on education that on research, tend to have more students, and importantly for this discussion, pay their staff less.

For example, there are currently jobs available for the lecturer grade at Manchester Metropolitan University (post-92) starting at £37k (spine point 30), Huddersfield (£39k), Birmingham Newman (£37k), while at The university of Sheffield Lecturer jobs start at £46k (spine point 38), £44k at York University, £45k at University of Leeds Leeds

The majority of the universities that use the Assistant Professor title are older, more prestigious, research intensive institutions, but not all such institutions use the title Assistant Professor.

So, the real distinction here is not that Assistant Professors are paid more the Lecturers, but that entry level faculty are paid more at pre-92s (some of which use Assistant Professor, and some Lecturer) than at post-92s (almost all of which use Lecturer).

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  • I think Indeed's data for "Lecturers" also includes lecturers at Further Education Colleges, which are institutions offering post-16 education, often (but not exclusively) focussed more on vocational training. I suspect this is more significant that the pre-/post-92 issue.
    – avid
    Jan 16 at 8:38
  • @avid yes, as I point you in a comment to the question. However the is a gap between pre and post 92 salaries. Jan 16 at 8:46
  • @avid ne clear, I'm pretty sure no Lecturer in a UK university is paid the £34k indeed is claiming. But I wouldn't buy I think a lot of post-92s will pay new lecturers on a scale that looks more like a postdoc to those of us at RG places. This fits with the fact they will hire people earlier in their career. Jan 16 at 8:54
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    @quarague This is only true at one university I know of (UCL). Almost all universities use EITHER asst. Professor, assoc. Prof, Full Prof (Cambridge, Warwick, Imperial, Nottingham). Or Lecturer/Sr. Lectuer/(Reader - many places have done away with readers)/Professor (Sheffield, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, York). Oxford has both Lecturer and Associate Professor, but lecturers are a bit different - employed by departments, rather than the university/college and there is no straight forward promotion pathway. Jan 16 at 10:53
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    @quarague Everywhere has professors. In my university you will find Lecturers, readers and professors, but the professors are all (Full) professors, there are no associate professors. It may be the case that at some universities had people with both Senior Lectuerer and Associate Professors while they were in the process of changing over. Jan 16 at 12:32

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