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Gap widens as colleges pay what they can afford

THE average 2002 pay settlement among Scotland's 46 further education colleges is running at 2.9 per cent. And the gap between lecturers'

earnings is growing.

According to the latest pay update by the Educational Institute of Scotland, only 16 colleges have settled, with single-year deals ranging from 4 per cent (Cumbernauld) to 1.5 per cent (Oatridge).

Others present a more complicated picture. Lecturers at Glasgow's Central College of Com-merce, the target of union action following the sacking of the branch secretary, have accepted a 2.4 per cent rise to January, a further 1.2 per cent until the end of July and an extra five days holiday next year.

James Watt College in Greenock has settled for 2.3 per cent from April and another 2.3 per cent from the beginning of last month.

Lecturers at James Watt continue to maintain their position as the best paid in Scotland: those at the top of the basic scale saw their earnings jump from pound;27,815 last year to pound;30,132 for the current year.

The next highest earners are the academic staff at Central College in Glasgow. Bottom of the table are those at Glasgow College of Food Technology where top lecturers are on pound;25,440.

Last year's salaries for the top of the lecturer scale ranged from James Watt's pound;27,815 to pound;24,089 at Moray College in Elgin.

The Educational Institute of Scotland has condemned the growing disparity between lecturers they see as doing the same job, and are using it as one of their arguments for a return to national negotiations.

But Tom Kelly, chief officer of the Association of Scottish Colleges, says each college has to settle on the basis of affordability and its own requirements.

"Some colleges can afford to be generous and there is no reason why they should not be allowed to be under devolved bargaining," Mr Kelly said. "I'm not worried about that but I am worried that there are colleges who cannot afford to be generous enough.

"It's certainly not a free for all in the sector because all colleges face the same funding restrictions."

Mr Kelly also cautioned against comparisons since colleges differ in where lecturers are placed on the scale and how quickly they progress.

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