Annual pay increases at universities are agreed nationally between UCU and the University and Colleges Employer Association (UCEA). Changes to pay made nationally apply to universities across the UK - negotiators have to bear in mind the impact on the worst-off institutions who would find further rises very challenging to apply.
In the absence of a national agreement, we have given all staff a 3% pay rise with up to 9% for those on lower grades. This is on top of the annual increments many staff automatically receive.
We also recently applied a 10% increase to the annual stipend for PHD Scholarships and are working on a number of measures to help staff with the Cost of Living.
Negotiations on pensions take place between UCU and Universities UK, with the dispute focussed on the USS Pension Scheme. This scheme is typically for staff on higher salary grades (7+) and is not something all staff are part of.
Everyone's pension payments and benefits built up to date are secure, however changes to future benefits were put in place earlier in the year and are now coming into effect. This was to address an underlying deficit in the scheme.
While the situation is not ideal, we think the changes initiated were the best option to avoid more punishing rises for employees and employers alike. The scheme is regularly reviewed and the next valuation will be key to addressing concerns many have had around the process for how this is decided.
Casualisation and job security
We know how important job security is for staff and want people to be able to make the most of their time at Kent and build careers that suit them.
Since 2019 we have greatly reduced the use of casual contracts and have eradicated all academic zero-hour contracts. We have since been working to strengthen this further so that we can be confident we are only using fixed-term contracts when they suit all parties.
Since last year we have also made a commitment that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of current reviews underway - this is supported by our new Redundancy Avoidance Agreement developed with staff and trade union representatives.
Workload and Wellbeing
We want Kent to be a community where staff and students alike can make the most of their time with us, with fulfilling jobs and the right support in place. Both workload and wellbeing have been issues for staff recently, with a number of major changes such as the initial adoption of KentVision having an impact on people's day-to-day work.
Addressing this is a major concern for Executive Group. We recently launched a new People & Culture strategy for the university which has a major focus on both EDI and staff wellbeing. We are also shortly going to launch a Staff Wellbeing Committee so that we have a direct route for staff to come up with ideas that could help make things a little easier.
Alongside this, both external and internal teams are currently reviewing the performance issues with KentVision with fixes being applied to address identified causes. A Timetabling Task Team is also working to review and improve our approach to timetables across the University to troubleshoot issues this term.