Tutorial Fellows at some colleges could face a £20,000 difference in their annual pay compared to other colleges, with the discrepancy being described as “scandalous and entrenched classism”.
Whilst at St John’s and New College the average remuneration for a Tutorial Fellow came to an estimated £49,333 and £40,637 respectively, at Lady Margaret Hall and Mansfield it was an estimated £21,076 and £22,116 respectively.
Since colleges do not distinguish between job type in their accounts, Cherwell estimated the average pay of Tutorial Fellows by finding the £10,000 salary bracket in which the greatest number of employees were being paid, and then dividing the gross remuneration by the number of employees.
One academic, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Cherwell: “The gross discrepancies in salary and benefits for tutorial fellows is entirely arbitrary and does not reflect merit, workload, achievements or prestige”.
Bursar of Christ Church College, James Lawrie, dismissed the calculations as “comparing apples and pears”, arguing that some colleges pay a higher proportion of their Fellows’ salaries, whilst others are paid more by the University.
However, one academic told Cherwell: “The discrepancies can be even larger than you indicate, given that some colleges give housing allowances upwards of £20,000, whole others give none at all”.
Cherwell understands that the differences in remuneration stems not only from absolute pay, but also from additional benefits offered by some colleges and included in the overall remuneration. These ‘taxable benefits’ include housing allowances, entertainment allowances, research allowances, and, in the case of colleges such as St John’s and New College, private health insurance.
An anonymous Tutorial Fellow told Cherwell: “I can con rm that the research allowance at my own college has been £500 for several years (although it is set to rise soon, it will not be nearly as high as at other colleges); the fact that the allowance is so low makes it impossible to cover the true cost of carrying out my research.”
They continued: “My research is just as good as [the academics at richer colleges], and I teach just as much. I was hired by Oxford University and to the outside world I am on an equal footing with my colleagues, but on my paycheck I’m not.
“The only reason I am paid less is because I happen to be a fellow at a poorer college and other Oxford colleges do not see fit to redistribute their wealth and share with others.”
An ‘entertainment allowance’ covers tutors’ costs incurred when hosting events for students, such as formal dinners, or other “necessary entertainment in connection with their office”.
In 2017, St John’s offered Tutorial Fellows £380 per year in entertainment allowance, whereas in the same year St Peter’s offered their Tutorial Fellows £264.
Most Oxford colleges are able to offer some form of housing allowance to compensate for high cost of housing in Oxford, but there is still a range in what is offered. These allowances can vary from a supplement to shared ownership of a house (shared equity).
Additionally, only some colleges offer ‘weighted hours” to accommodate for the number of students in a tutorial. In a ‘weighted’ scheme a tutorial hour spent teaching a group of three would be multiplied by 1.5 when it came to counting the number of salary hours.
This means in a college using ‘unweighted’ hours, a college lecturer would be paid £9, 838 for teaching a group of three four hours a week during term time. At a college using weighted hours, the equivalent amount of teaching would earn the tutor £14,757 for exactly the same work.
Another academic, who also wished to remain anonymous, suggested that managing to secure a fellowship at a wealthier college is “simply a matter of luck”.
They continued: “It would be frowned upon (against Oxford’s particular academic culture) for a current tutorial fellow at LMH, to apply for a tutorial fellowship at St John’s, were one to open up in their discipline. If that LMH tutor is dissatisfied with pay at LMH, they’ll have to leave Oxford altogether.”
In 2017, an applicant for the position of Associate Professor (most of which are associated with a tutorial fellowship) at St John’s could expect a housing allowance of £13,500 per year if they did not live in college. At Lady Margaret Hall, in 2016, an applicant to the same position could expect to receive £7,800 a year.
St John’s College bursar, Andrew Parker, told Cherwell: “Additionally [total remuneration] will depend on whether any of the people in the assembly you have formed have taken on extra responsibilities: Tutor for Women, Bursars, Senior Censor etc etc.”
Roles that receive additional payment at some colleges include Keeper of the Gardens, Librarian Fellow, and Editor of the college chronicle or newsletter. However, at colleges such as Mansfield, fellows take on these extra responsibilities but receive no additional payment for their efforts.
One academic said: “First, such additional tasks are often arduous and time-intensive, impeding quality work on required research and teaching duties. Second, the remuneration for such additional tasks is insignificant enough to be laughable.
“For a tutor at LMH to ‘catch up’ to a tutor at St John’s they would need to have a second tutorial fellowship (which is not possible) and then still do more work.”
Usually, any Associate Professor hired by the University is affiliated with a college as a tutorial fellow. Each year, an academic gains a ‘scale point’ with an according increase in salary, until they reach the top of their grade.
Speaking to Cherwell, an academic said “Another source of discrepancy is that, for joint appointees on UL contracts, not all colleges seem to ‘match’ the university contribution, and pay their staff on a lower pay grade than they have been appointed at on the university side.”
Humanities and Sciences lecturers are also paid differing proportions of their salary by the university, with the former receiving the majority of their salary from the College.
To counter this disparity, there have been calls for a standardisation of tutorial fellow pay across the University.
An academic told Cherwell: “Unfortunately, many tutorial fellows profit enormously from this established hierarchy and the wheels of change have been pain- fully slow to turn. Opening up the issue of discrepancies between fellows would open up all manner of conversations about how these hierarchies are manifested elsewhere across the university and there is simply no will to act on the part of wealthy colleges.”
The new College Contribution Scheme, intended to better redistribute college wealth, is set to be announced later this year. Academic remuneration is, of course, just another indicator of this disparity in wealth between Oxford colleges, and the question of the impact on student experience is something to be considered.