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The Government commissioned HEFCE to produce the report, titled 'The higher education workforce framework 2010' (see note 2). The study, led by Professor Paul Curran, Chair of HEFCE's Higher Education Workforce Steering Group and Vice-Chancellor, Bournemouth University, is aimed at providing evidence for future policy development and to help universities and colleges plan their staffing policies.

The report argues that HE's future success relies on its ability to attract, retain and motivate highly talented, creative and innovative staff. It asks questions about the conditions required for a healthy and sustainable workforce, and how the sector can maintain its world-class position in increasingly challenging economic times.

The report explores a range of issues and provides a wealth of evidence. Topics include the changing requirements of students, the rising cost of pensions, and sustainability of pay and reward systems for staff. The report considers whether existing structures, such as the academic contract or national pay bargaining, can adequately address these issues in the future.

Professor Curran said:

'This country's higher education institutions are undoubtedly blessed with exceptionally talented, skilled and hard-working staff. I am acutely aware that I owe the success of Bournemouth University to such staff. This report enabled us to reflect on the changing characteristics of the English higher education workforce and highlight major challenges of the next few years.'

Commenting on the report, Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said:

'Universities and colleges employ high-quality staff, which are their greatest asset. Staff need to be supported and enabled to maintain the highest standards in teaching, scholarship and research. In addition, human resources practices and processes need to be agile and flexible so that universities and colleges can respond to the changing needs of students and employers. This report is intended to stimulate senior management teams to think about the major issues facing the higher education workforce, ensuring that we can maintain standards and momentum in more constrained economic times.'

David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education, said:

'Record levels of investment in higher education have enabled significant growth in staff numbers and in salary levels, making our higher education institutions an employer of choice. To succeed in the future, higher education will need to continue to attract, retain and motivate highly talented and creative staff. This report confirms that the higher education sector is in a good position to face the challenges of the future following a decade of rapidly rising investment.'

The report poses five questions to focus the debate:

  1. How can the sector become more flexible at a time of change while maximising the talent and commitment of its people?
  2. How can HE pay and reward remain competitive, adequately rewarding people for their contribution, and equitable while also being affordable and not threatening the HE sector's future financial sustainability?
  3. National pay bargaining has continued to receive broad support across the HE sector's employers and trade unions. What is the optimum industrial relations model for the sector to create an environment where the sector’s sustainability and success is driven by a motivated, well-rewarded and engaged workforce?
  4. How can the HE sector best support (and subsequently implement) the aims of the Employers' Pensions Forum to achieve sustainable pensions for the HE workforce in future?
  5. To what extent do the existing contracts and university statutes require change to optimise performance management, workforce flexibility and to enable institutions to meet the diverse expectations of staff, students and employers?

 

Notes

  1. 'The higher education workforce framework 2010', (HEFCE 2010/05), is available as two publications: an overview report and a main report.
  2. The higher education workforce framework was commissioned by the then Secretary of State, John Denham, in his annual grant letter to HEFCE in January 2008.
  3. A number of other reports are also being published today. These are the result of a workforce research programme and more detailed analysis commissioned by the steering group. These are:
    1. 'The higher education workforce framework 2010: Main report' (HEFCE 2010/05a).
    2. 'The future workforce for higher education: A report to HEFCE by PA Consulting Group.
    3. 'The future of higher education provision in the UK: workforce implications. A review of the literature' (University of Hertfordshire).
    4. 'International experiences of human resource management in higher education' (Nicola Dowds).
    5. 'Supplementary report to the HEFCE Higher Education Workforce Framework based on the international Changing Academic Profession (CAP) study'(CHERI).
  4. HEFCE is also publishing an analytical report about the trends and profiles staff employed at HEFCE-funded HEIs, 'Staff employed at HEFCE-funded HEIs: Trends and profiles 1995-96 to 2008-09' (HEFCE 2010/06).
  5. The Employers Pensions Forum was established by Universities UK, GuildHE and the Universities & Colleges Employers Association to consider the pension needs of the HE sector.
  6. The total number of staff in HE in England in 2008-09 was 314,960 (a rise of 7.7 per cent (22,500) since 2005-06).
  7. In 2008-09, 143,395 (46 per cent) of HE staff held an academic role; 162,375 (52 per cent) of staff held a professional/support role; and 9,190 (3 per cent) staff held a dual academic and professional/support role.
  8. Higher education institutions spend an average of 57 per cent of their total expenditure on staff costs.