The study confirms findings of an earlier survey by the college lecturers' union NATFHE that a substantial minority have had a pay freeze while a further one in five were awarded less than the nationally agreed 2.4 per cent. Just over half (52 per cent) received the 2.4 per cent.
Almost one in seven colleges gave more than the maximum negotiated, according to the survey, to which 187 college replied last month. Detailed reasons for paying less than the minimum rate were not given.
Sue Dutton, deputy chief executive of the AOC, said: "Our recommendations are always based on the ability to pay and that is always part of the negotiated conditions. We can assume that the reason they have not paid the rise is that they don not have the monies."
However, there was an indication that many colleges had put the rise on hold, pending the results of recruitment. Many principals indicated that the rise they would only settle if they hit the required enrolment targets to hit their planned income.
A similar spread of local deals appears to have been agreed at college level for support staff from caretakers to clerical workers, following an agreement with the biggest public sector union Unison.
"We have linked the pay award to contract changes which will be negotiated at local level," said Mrs Dutton.
The AOC survey also suggests that virtually none of the staff remaining on Silver Book contracts, put in place when local education authorities ran colleges, received any pay rise for the third year running. Only 2 per cent of colleges said they made such awards.
This leaves many Silver Book lecturers over Pounds 2,000 (10 to 13 per cent) behind colleagues in the same college who are on new contracts.