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Education Matters: Union says poor pay will trigger brain drain.

Midland universities could suffer a brain drain with academics fleeing the country to find better paid jobs, unions have warned.

The Association of University Teachers has claimed up to 2,000 academics -many from the Midlands -could start leaving the UK each year if members reject strike action in a ballot.

The AUT said accepting employers' new pay proposals would lead to many staff losing thousands of pounds in career earnings, forcing them to quit the country.

Malcolm Keight, deputy general secretary of the AUT, issued the warning in the final days of a postal ballot.

The ballot for strike action has been under way since January 13 and the poll is due to close on Wednesday.

In an email sent last week to the 47,000 AUT members, Mr Keight said: 'If the current pay modernisation proposals -which would lead to some university lecturers losing pounds 18,000 over the next 13 years -are not rejected, I fear many of the leading and most promising academics will decide to go to other countries, where salaries are higher.

'If AUT members don't vote to oppose the employers' woeful proposals, the brain drain that has already begun will turn from a steady flow into a deluge.'

A study by the union revealed that US professors earn 47.5 per cent more than their UK counterparts and US senior lecturers earn 35 per cent more with rankand-file US lecturers earning 42 per cent more.

Figures show the number of academics leaving the UK higher education system for the EU and US has risen by more than 50 per cent in the past five years, said the union.

The AUT will join the National Union of Students in its campaign to bring higher education institutions to a standstill for the week beginning February 23, with the AUT protesting against pay modernisation and the NUS against variable top-up fees.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 9, 2004
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