THREE-quarters of colleges gave lecturers a pay rise of 3 per cent or more this year, judging by a new survey.
The Association of Colleges' annual survey attracted responses from 66 per cent of the 460 FE colleges. Of those responding, nine in 10 had made a pay award, but nine had offered nothing. The survey does not include sixth-form colleges.
Nevertheless, few had tried to close the widening pay gap between lecturers and school-teachers, now standing at no less than 7 per cent, said the Association.
Jocelyn Prudence, AOC director of employment policy, said: "Pay rates for college staff are still significantly behind school-teachers. We want a pay strategy that addresses that gap and are committed to taking that forward in our joint forum with all the recognised unions.
"Recruitment and retention problems are increasing and they will impact on colleges' ability to play the fullest part in delivering the Govenment's agenda."
She said the association wanted to work with the unions to produce a new pay framework, and carry out major pay research.
Lecturers' union NATFHE is currently preparing a claim for FE lecturers which will aim to bring their pay in line with teachers and other professionals. The union is demanding a payment of at least pound;2,500 for all its members.
Sue Berryman, head of the union's colleges' department, said: "The Government is investing in further education as never before. Some of this money must go towards lecturers' pay. They cannot continue year after year coping with more students, bigger workloads and smaller pay packets. They can't continue to support and motivate students when their own morale is at rock bottom.
"College employers and the Government have a chance to put things right with this year's pay award. We hope for everyone's sake that they don't miss that opportunity."