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All professors are equal, but some are more equal than others
chap
nmg

There's nothing quite so likely to give me indigestion at lunchtime than reading about the latest antics of certain vice chancellors in the Times Higher. Today's edition has a beaut of a story: David VandeLinde, the VC of Warwick University (and formerly VC of Bath University, which is where I know of him from) is introducing US-style academic titles at Warwick.

All 850 academic staff at Warwick University will from next year be able to call themselves "professor" following a decision to adopt the US system of academic titles.

Warwick is the first UK university to break away from hundreds of years of academic tradition, renaming lecturers "assistant professors", senior lecturers and readers "associate professors" while still calling professors "professors".

The radical move will horrify those who believe the "professor" title should be reserved for an academic elite. But David VandeLinde, Warwick's vice-chancellor, predicted that other UK universities would follow suit.

He said: "It gives us instantly internationally recognisable titles and provides us with a unique offer to our academic teaching staff in which all can share in the title of professor. It will inevitably be copied, but Warwick will be remembered as having the foresight to lead that change."

[...] Warwick will be the first university to adopt US titles for all academic staff. The system will be used for new appointees and adopted by existing staff by the start of the 2007-08 academic year.

I'm assuming that, in due course, former professors will be keen to distinguish themselves from their lesser colleagues by describing themselves as "full professors", as seems to be the vogue in the US. This certainly seems much simpler than our existing system.

During his time at Bath, VandeLinde was keen to introduce a number of US innovations, including sports scholarships. When he moved to Warwick, he quickly won the support of staff there, as can be seen in this quote from the THES in November 2000:

Professor VandeLinde said: "Warwick is now well established within the UK's 'Ivy League', and I look forward to the opportunity and challenge... to lead Warwick in becoming recognised as a world-class research university."

Personally, I found myself slightly mystified by this statement, because I was under the impression that Warwick was already recognised as a world-class research university...

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Or are the spoils of the MBA not used to increment the pay of the business school staff? How does that work, in fact, because surely you have to be able to pay (for example) CS staff more than History staff because CS people could earn so much more in the real world? Or do you have to forego such thoughts to work in a university?

There are nationally-agreed payscales for staff in HE, with some exceptions. The post-1992 universities have lower scales than the pre-1992 institutions (a historical oddity), and there are some cases where staff are paid on NHS scales (clinical staff in medical schools, for example).

However, within an institution, staff on the same grade will be paid the same regardless of what their discipline is. A senior lecturer in history will be paid between £38,685 and £43,850 (not including the discretionary points at the top of the senior lecturer scale). A senior lecturer in computer science would be paid the same. (more details on payscales here)

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