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Students urged not to panic;Exam results

A-LEVEL students have been advised not to panic over the lecturers' pay dispute which this week threatened to disrupt university admissions.

The Association of University Teachers was urging its members to boycott clearing yesterday and today. Clearing is the process which matches students with vacancies on university courses.

The union is in pursuit of a 10 per cent pay claim, after employers offered only 3.5 per cent.

It was feared that the action, affecting only the older universities, would cause students to turn to the former polytechnics which became universities in 1992.

But the National Union of Students believes this is unlikely and has accepted lecturers' assurances that disruption will be minor.

An NUS spokesman said: "It is possible students could go for the new universities, but we think if their first choice was an older university they will be patient."

University vice-chancellors told The TES it would be "business as usual".

The action does not affect students who have achieved the grades that their universities asked for. Their acceptance is automatic if they have been made a conditional offer.

A one-day strike by the AUT back in May was followed by disruption of exams in June and extensive campaigning at graduation ceremonies in July. Parents of graduates were among those protesting.

NATFHE, the union which represents academics, has also rejected a 3.5 per cent offer and is expected to ballot its members in the autumn for industrial action.

The AUT says its members' salaries have been falling behind other non-manual staff, rising by only 1.1 per cent in real terms since 1981. Other non manual staff have seen their salaries increase by more than 30 per cent.

According to the AUT, ordinary lecturers at the older universities started on pound;16,655 on October 1, 1998. Senior lecturers received between pound;30,496 and pound;37,257.

Meanwhile the starting salary for newly qualified teachers in primary and secondary schools is pound;15,537. This increases yearly for seven years up to a maximum of pound;23,193 for an ordinary teacher who may or may not have extra responsibilities.

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