Pay & Conditions: Committee Chair's update

Dame Kay Davies

Kay Davies chairs the Pay & Conditions Steering Committee. She completed her undergraduate studies at Somerville College and worked as a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College. In 1998, she was elected as Dr Lee’s Professor of Anatomy and a Fellow of Hertford College. Kay was Head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics (DPAG) from 2008 to 2011, where she continues to run a research group. She is also a founding fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003.

It has been a busy few months for members of the Pay & Conditions Steering Committee and project team. Since my last blog for University Bulletin on 10 July, the committee has met as part of its review for five workshops on various aspects of pay benchmarking, benefits, our investment in people, and reward policies and procedures. You will have seen updates on these from fellow committee members in the University Bulletin, links to which can be found on the Pay & Conditions: communications and updates webpage.  

At the end of the summer, we welcomed Adrian Walcott, an experienced, independent workplace culture consultant, to the Steering Committee. We have also been liaising with the Conference of Colleges and keeping them informed about our progress. 

We have now completed most of our benchmarking and analysis, and the main staff consultation phase of our review. My thanks to everyone who has been involved and shared their input and expertise along the way: it has given us great insight and food for thought. 

Staff engagement opportunities 

Town Hall event 

It was great to meet so many colleagues during the Pay & Conditions Town Hall-style event at the Oxford Martin School last month, where I was joined on the panel by four of my fellow committee members. More than 730 people registered and over 200 questions were received, either in advance or on the day. These questions have all been shared with the Steering Committee to inform the review.  

A video recording of the event, along with a transcript and presentations slides from the session, have been published on the Pay & Conditions website (SSO login required). You can also find word clouds depicting the results from the session’s audience polls.  

Staff feedback form 

The Pay & Conditions staff feedback form closed on 10 November, to give us time to consider all the input before reporting back to the Vice-Chancellor in December. There is a growing list of Frequently Asked Questions in direct response to feedback shared in these forms, as well as from events and other correspondence. 

We received 229 individual feedback form responses from across the University, covering the full breadth of the review, across pay, benefits, investment in people, reward and recognition. Of those, 52 related to employee benefits (22%), 45 to pay and pay progression (19%), 37 to the cost of living (16%), 30 to benchmarking and competitiveness (13%), 21 to reward policy across different contract types (9%), 14 to college benefits and joint appointments (6%), 11 to fixed-term contracts specifically (5%), and 15 to a range of other topics (6%). Another seven submissions were general questions about the review. All of this valuable input is being considered as part of our work. 

Staff focus groups 

In October, we also hosted nine 90-minute staff focus groups, led by an independent facilitator, to delve into some of these key themes. In particular, these sessions explored salary structures and pay progression (including cost of living concerns and competitiveness), employee benefits, how we invest in staff wellbeing and development, reward policies and procedures, and workload as it relates to pay and conditions. We received more than 280 self-nominations from across the University in response to our calls for participation in the focus groups, and more than 150 of those volunteers were invited to take part, with efforts made to ensure broad representation of staff groups in each session.  

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the committee, to thank everyone who volunteered to be part of our focus groups, and to all those who were able to join the groups and share their views and perspectives, openly and constructively. 

Next steps 

The focus of our attention is now on drawing out conclusions and recommendations from benchmarking work, as well as preparing a draft report which we will share with the Vice-Chancellor next month. We have another committee meeting on 6 December and are busy planning ahead for 2024. As things stand, we plan to share a report with Council in February 2024 and after that we look forward to updating all colleagues about initial outcomes and next steps. 

Please do keep up to date in the meantime on everything happening around the review on the Pay & Conditions webpages. If you have any questions, please get in touch at