Daniel Zeichner MP campaigning with Labour Club activistsStephanie Stacey

The University Council has today announced that it will seek formal accreditation from the Living Wage foundation, committing itself to paying the real living wage to all its workers.

The University only pays all directly employed staff at or above the level of the Real Living Wage, and has done so since 2014. Today’s announcement also means the University will extend payment of the real living wage to contractors and subcontractors.

While this reform is still subject to the possibility of a vote at Regent House, the University’s highest decision-making body, it is likely to pass unopposed on 23rd February.

The University will seek accreditation this academic year, although the process can take up to three years to be finalised.

The real living wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. It is currently set by the Living Wage Foundation at £10.20 in London, and £8.75 across the rest of the UK. In comparison, the national living wage, the government minimum for employees over 25, is £7.50.

In a statement, Eilis Ferran, pro-vice-chancellor for institutional and international relations, said: “Accreditation will give our lowest-paid staff, including our on-site contractors, more security because their wage will be set by reference to the Real Living Wage benchmark”.

The University said “this shows a public commitment to pay at this level” adding that “the move comes after extensive consultation across the University, including with unions and Cambridge University Student Union”.

Today’s announcement is the latest development since the launch, at the start of this academic year, of a joint campaign by Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), Cambridge Universities Labour Club (CULC) and Cambridge Defend Education which called for the University to begin paying all its staff members the real living wage.


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In December, 228 members of the Regent House submitted a Grace (a formal proposal) to the University council, which asked for the university to pay the real living wage to ‘all staff and also contractors who work regularly on University premises’. The campaign also received the support of Cambridge’s MP, Daniel Zeichner.

Students protested outside the University Council meeting on 22nd January to encourage the body to approve the move.

Speaking to Varsity, CUSU president Daisy Eyre said she was “proud of the work done by students campaigning for this and happy that the University will be taking this step.”

Eyre added that she believed this “will benefit the institution for years to come” as the move will help to produce “a legacy in which future generations of Cambridge staff are guaranteed a decent wage.”

“The next step is to encourage all Cambridge colleges to pay the living wage, and we have already started laying the groundwork for this part of our campaign.”

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