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How King’s is tackling key issues

Bush House

The University and College Union (UCU) are taking national industrial action in relation to their disputes on pay and conditions and the USS pension. We recognise and are taking steps to address the important issues which are of concern to our students and staff and colleagues across the sector. King's is one of 150 universities across the UK impacted by the disputes.


At King’s, like other universities, we take part in national pay bargaining as we believe it to be fair and equitable for staff.

The national pay award is an annual increase negotiated with the trade unions by Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) on behalf of 140 universities including King's. Individual universities don’t have control over these national negotiations, but we have worked on reward options aimed at supporting staff with the rise in cost of living within the context of national pay bargaining.

The 2023/24 national pay increase ranges from a 5% to 8% with the higher percentages going to those staff on the lowest end of the pay scale. A proportion of this increase, £1000 or 2% whichever was the greater amount, was paid to staff six months early to recognise the ongoing cost of living concerns that our staff are facing and the remainder of the increase will be paid in August 2023.. Most of our colleagues at Grades 1 to 8 (who are not on probation and below the top spine point for their grade) will also received an incremental progression award which is equivalent to a 3% increase.

In 2022 we increased the London Weighting Allowance by £500 to £4,000 and this will be increased by a further 5% in August 2023 taking the total London Weighting Allowance to £4,200. King’s is currently paying staff one of the highest amounts of London Weighting Allowance amongst the London Russell Group institutions. The London Weighting Allowance continues to be negotiated locally between King’s and our recognised unions.

King’s has been committed to paying the London Living Wage since March 2014 and became an accredited London Living Wage employer in 2018. The current London Living Wage is £11.95 an hour and King’s pays a minimum of £12.55 per hour.

There is a range of support for students and staff to help with cost of living. Some of the support King’s has put in place included:

  • A £3million package for students which included additional hardship funding, and an extra one-off payment for King’s Living Bursary recipients which they received in 2022.
  • Food and drink offers across our campuses.
  • Free sanitary products across our campuses.
  • A staff welfare loan scheme
  • Childcare discount with Busy Bees Nurseries

Job security

Precarious employment is something we are taking action on. Our default position is to employ staff on indefinite contracts. However, the nature of some roles does mean that we will always have a need to employ some staff on fixed-term contracts or on an hourly paid basis. This can be helpful to support parental leave, and roles covered by external research grants.

Where we can anticipate a need for particular roles, we are employing staff on permanent contracts beyond the end date of the research project or teaching assignment.

Our Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) play a vital role in delivering and supporting teaching and learning to our students. GTAs continue to remain employees of King’s which means their contract remains with King’s and they maintain all current benefits, including leave entitlements and membership of the USS pension scheme.


King’s leadership has heard very clearly the concern expressed by staff across the university about their workload. This is a complex problem involving looking at systems and recruitment locally as well as across King’s.

We know the increase in student admissions due to the record number of A-Level results in 2021 has had an impact on workload. To address this, we introduced rapid approvals on additional staff resourcing requests and as part of Strategy 2026 we are looking to further simplify our systems and processes to reduce the time and effort processing routine business.

For example, the introduction of Worktribe, an intuitive cloud-based platform, has transformed the management of research grants. It brings together information about research applications, contracts and funding into one central repository, improving efficiency and transparency. This is just one of a range of initiatives that aim to bring greater simplicity and effectiveness to our underlying operations.

Equality and pay gaps

Intersectional equality, diversity and inclusion is rooted in our approach to working and studying at King’s and we’re committed to ensuring fair and equal pay for all our staff.

The pay audits we carry out help to identify any pay inequalities which we can then work to address. The Professorial Pay Framework which ensures a fair and transparent pay structure for our professors was introduced as a result of the pay audit. The next pay audit is due to take place in 2023.

The gender pay gap at King’s has decreased over four years from 19.5% in 2017 to 17.1% in 2020 and to 14.8% in 2021, however the gender pay gap increased slightly in 2022 to 15.1%. We have made steady progress in reducing the gender pay gap since 2017. This latest data shows that we still have more to do to sustain change and increase representation through selection and retention policies and the recruitment and promotion of academic and professional services staff at all levels.

Each year we voluntarily calculate, record and publish the ethnicity pay gap at King’s, the difference between the average hourly earnings of white staff and those from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background. In 2021 the ethnicity pay gap decreased from 19.9% to 19.1% and to 17.9% in 2022, we are continuing to address this gap.

We are working hard to reduce gender and ethnicity pay gaps – caused by the disproportionate representation of Black, Asian, ethnic minority and female staff lower down our pay scale – through e.g., mentoring programmes and career coaching. Through this work, we have increased the number of female professors at King’s and the number of senior black women in our Academic and Professional Services units.

King’s now has the highest proportion of senior female academic staff within the Russell Group according to the latest Higher Education Statistics Agency data, with the number of senior female academic staff increasing to 40.4 per cent in 2021-22. We also saw a 2% uplift in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic academic staff in 2021.

The disability pay gap is not something we currently calculate and record as there isn’t an agreed national methodology for doing this.

USS Pension

We have always been clear in our position that at 30.7%, the already high levels of joint employer and employee member contributions should be sufficient to secure a good pension for staff members.

We are committed to working with the USS Trustee and UUK and continuing to push for a full review of the scheme. To support our engagement we commissioned the Pensions Policy Institute to develop a report on the future of university pensions. The report, released in January 2023, looks to examine university pensions, particularly those provided by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which have been the subject of much debate and controversy for some years.

Recently more positive updates from the USS Trustee give hope that the funding position of the scheme has been improving, if this continues there may be the opportunity as part of the March 2023 valuation to potentially improve benefits and cost. However, with the world and UK economies remaining uncertain, it cannot be assumed that the current improved position will continue into 2023.

We recognise the important issues which are of concern to our students and staff, and colleagues across the Higher Education sector and negotiations remain open on issues such as pay spine, workload, contract types and reducing the disability, ethnicity and gender pay gaps, as we look to address these at a local and national level.