Louis Ashworth

Ten colleges failed to pay some staff the real living wage in the academic year 2022/23, a Cambridge Student Union investigation has revealed.

The real living wage, which is based on cost of living in the UK, stood at £10.90 last academic year.

Downing, Emmanuel, Fitzwilliam, Gonville & Caius, Homerton, Lucy Cavendish, Magdalene, St Edmund’s, Trinity Hall, and Wolfson failed to pay the rate to some of its staff last year.

Emmanuel College paid the lowest rate to casually employed staff, which was £7.49. The college paid 50 staff below the national living wage last year, which is the Government-set minimum pay for adults aged over 23, and stood at £10.42 before an increase this month.

Magdalene College also paid nineteen staff below this rate last year, with their lowest pay for casual staff standing at £10.18.

Downing, Fitzwilliam, Caius, Homerton, Lucy Cavendish, and Wolfson Colleges all paid £10.42 to some staff in 2022/23, while all other colleges paid all employees above this rate.

Selwyn, Girton, and Queens’ are accredited as living wage employers, while Fitzwilliam was expected to complete the process by this month, which would mean that it pays £12 per hour or above to all employees.

Darwin college has no current plans to increase pay, while Trinity, Wolfson, and Newnham stated that pay is under consideration, according to the report.

King’s College refused to disclose its living wage statistics, telling the SU: “The College shares your concerns about fair pay and conditions for workers, and the Living Wage campaign. However, we also operate in the collegiate environment, which means we have to consider our commercial interests such as remaining competitive in a tough recruitment market.”

Fitzwilliam College told Varsity: “In FY2022-23 the RLW was £10.90 per hour, and the College paid permanent employees a minimum of £10.90 per hour up to the end of April, and from 1st May 2023, paid £11.50 per hour (above the RLW). During FY2023-24, the Governing Body approved both the payment of all employees (including casuals) the RLW, and that the College would apply for accreditation with the RLW Foundation. From 1st April 2024 all employees (permanent and casual) receive the RLW of £12 per hour.”


Mountain View

Emmanuel pays fifty staff below living wage

A spokesperson for St Edmund’s College told Varsity: “We pay our staff the National Living Wage in line with Government-set wage rates. We value our staff and provide a comprehensive benefits package that includes training and development opportunities.”

A Homerton College spokesperson said: “Permanent and temporary staff are paid at least £12.02 per hour, which is slightly higher than the RLW. The college introduced this on 1 January this year, a full three months before it came into effect nationally.”

“Back in 2022/23, casual staff were paid NMW at the 23+ age rate even if they were younger. Some people choose to be casual for a range of personal reasons, but Homerton strives to employ workers on permanent or temporary contracts rather than casual wherever possible,” Homerton said.

Gonville & Caius College’s Senior Bursar Robert Gardiner said: “The College takes close account of the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendations in setting pay for its staff. Consistent with this, it has brought forward the implementation date for annual cost of living review for support staff from August 1 to April 1.”

All other colleges mentioned have been contacted for comment.