SCOTTISH college lecturers are an average £5000 per year better off than their English counterparts, a shock new survey claimed yesterday.

Against the background of possible industrial action by members of the EIS-FELA union, the survey by Tes, formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement, reveals that lecturers in Scotland are significantly better paid than English lecturers.

The detailed research by Tes showed that average lecturer pay in April this year was £35,809 in Scotland. The publication said this may be due to many lecturers seeing their salaries increase significantly “following a harmonisation deal with management in the wake of a return to national bargaining.”

By comparison, says Tes, average lecturer pay in England was £30,035 in 2017, according to University and College Union calculations based on responses from 166 colleges.

Tes adds: “Meanwhile, college staff in Wales and Northern Ireland are on common pay scales, but average salaries lag behind those in England.”

The Tes survey also found large pay rises for some Scottish lecturers, particularly those at rural colleges.

Tes reported: “Following the reintroduction of national bargaining in Scotland, the harmonisation deal agreed by the teaching union EIS-FELA and the employers’ association means that every lecturer will gradually be moved on to a single pay scale, with a highest point of £40,026 by April 2019.

“For many lecturers, this has meant a large increase in salary during the transition period. This is particularly true for those working at small, rural colleges.

“Some lecturers at West Highland College UHI will receive a huge 72% increase in their pay between 2016 and 2019; the other main beneficiaries include some of their peers at Shetland College (55%), North Highland College UHI (45%) and Orkney College (35%).”

The survey comes during a dispute over a pay rise being sought by EIS-FELA, and the day before a national march and demonstration in support of teachers’ pay demands scheduled for later today in Glasgow.

The union said earlier this week that in September, its members voted overwhelmingly to reject a pay offer which amounts to a 2.5% consolidated uplift for lecturers over a three year period.

The union stated: “This is a real-terms pay cut for Scottish FE lecturers and effectively would impose a pay cap on lecturers at a time when the Scottish Government is lifting the cap for the rest of the public sector.”

John Gribben, director of employment services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said the union’s demands would cost colleges £60 million, adding that the sum “is utterly unaffordable and would bankrupt the college sector”.

Gribben added: “It is extremely disappointing that EIS-FELA’s intransigence and refusal to recognise the substantial average pay increases from national bargaining’s salary harmonisation are pay rises as it is destabilising the sector and threatening a significant number of jobs.”

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Members voted overwhelmingly to reject the pay offer, signifying the strength of feeling within the sector. This dispute is about a cost of living pay rise and ensuring that lecturers’ pay keeps up with inflation.

“At a time when the sector would benefit from stability, it is regrettable that management are conflating the provision of equal pay across the sector with a cost of living pay increase, creating a barrier to further negotiation.”

The Scottish Government was asked for a reaction but did not reply before The National went to press.