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Salaries are best by the Clyde

The best paid lecturers in Scotland continue to be found at James Watt College in Greenock - but West Lothian College is closing the gap.

According to the latest of the regular surveys carried out by the Educational Institute of Scotland, the top of the lecturers' scale at James Watt now attracts a salary of pound;31,483, an increase of pound;1,200 on last year. West Lothian pays pound;30,090, a rise of pound;1,600.

By contrast, lecturers at Dumfries and Galloway, Jewel and Esk Valley, Moray and Oatridge earn between pound;27,000 and pound;28,000 - lower than the college average of pound;28,661, itself pound;1,000 more than the previous year.

These figures represent the most recent outlook rather than a complete picture since there had been only 27 pay settlements, out of a possible 45, by last month's survey date.

These disparities, the EIS contends, exist despite the fact that lecturers are doing like work across the country. Colleges argue that they do not wish to see the return of a national "strait-jacket" on pay and conditions which ignores local circumstances.

Overall, the 27 settlements so far reported for 2004 have seen salaries rise by an average 3.57 per cent. The highest increase is at Perth College, which agreed a 5.4 per cent pay hike.

All colleges have finally settled for 2003, the average increase being 3.15 per cent.

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