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Sabb Salaries in the Spotlight

Feb 04 2003 14:09
Oliver Pell
ICU Exec has voted to break the link between sabbatical salaries and the EPSRC phD study grant.
What are the sabbaticals worth?

Imperial College Union’s Executive Committee voted last night to break the link between the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council phD study grant and the salaries paid to the Union’s sabbatical officers. As previously reported the EPSRC grant is expected to rise substantially over the next few years, to a level which could see the Union facing an additional staffing bill of £20,000 a year by 2005-6.

ICU Exec voted overwhelmingly to link sabbatical salaries with a clerical pay grade at a roughly equal value to the current salaries despite some opposition on the basis that sabbatical salaries should be linked to a student stipend rather than a clerical pay scale. Deputy President (Education & Welfare) Andrew Smith was particularly vociferous in his opposition to breaking the EPSRC link. Mr Smith suggested instead that the EPSRC link should be maintained, but that the value of the sabbatical free room in halls should be deducted from the total, effectively cutting the net salaries for the sabbaticals. Mr Smith failed to make his point effectively however until after the meeting, leading many to suspect that ICU Exec will be asked to reconsider its decision at the next meeting. Mr Smith said that he believed linking to the EPSRC was “much fairer” and that “in the long term [it] should be adequate”.

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Discussion about “Sabb Salaries in the Spotlight”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Sam   
Feb 04 2003 17:57

In my day, we got paid fourpence-ha'penny a week and we were thankful!

Feb 05 2003 10:21

Do we really need 5 sabbs? Ed and welfare are already well provided - we also have a full-time advisor.

Feb 05 2003 10:43


at the last count we had 6 sabbs.

Although ICSMSU president is paid for via donations to the Medical School, not via ICU.

Felix potentially could be self funding - although this would depend on the advertising year.

Is money your point? Becuase i can't see any other argument not to have as many sabbs as possible. More sabbs = more good work done on behalf of students. Surely not a bad thing...

Feb 05 2003 11:03

It also means less money for clubs/representation/anything really. So it's a trade-off, as always...

Feb 05 2003 15:24

Yes, money is the point, therefore only 5 matter. In my experience the sabbs do very little for the students, with the permanent staff doing most of the work. Sabbs seem to have endless meetings where they talk utter twaddle most of the time.

Most students dealings with the union are through bars and clubs. The bars can look after themselves, but why take money from clubs to fund extra bureaucracy?

6. ...   
Feb 05 2003 17:08

But then if it is a matter of money, why not look at the Felix Editor (the current incumbent says that he doesn't think the post warrants a sabbattical)?

Also, insert comments about the Union Clerk here.....

Feb 05 2003 18:23

It's been clear for quite a while that the Felix editor has been stuck in a rut, and not doing much to deserve his salary. Maybe we should take his advice and turn the position into a voluntary one - or maybe the salary could be covered by advertising.

I still think the sabbs don't do anything a permanent staff member couldn't do - so what's the point in going through the hullabaloo of an election each year, spending loads of money, then getting someone who spends the first six months learning the job, and the second six months sitting on their a*** pretending to do that job.

Sack the lot and get 1 or 2 accountable permanent staff members!

8. Sam   
Feb 05 2003 18:57

Yeah great idea... sack all the elected students and buy in staff... wonderful, priceless, gorgeous.

Student Unions are supposed to be run by students, for students. Democracy... not autocracy.

Next person to suggest replacing Sabbs with Staff gets a slap - this is your only warning.

Feb 05 2003 22:02

how about replacing the staff with sabs? last time i checked they're substantially cheaper.

Feb 05 2003 23:20

Has anyone else seen the STOIC documentary on the elections? The sabb interviews make it sound _really_ boring.

Sen: I sit in meetings

Andrew: I sit in meetings where they don't care what I say.

Nona: I say the same thing to lots of people one after another and repeat it dozens of times.

Ram: I'm in charge of keys.

11. Sam   
Feb 06 2003 00:04


that's the best summing up of Sabb jobs i've seen in ages!

12. becky   
Feb 06 2003 12:49

I just fast forwarded the stoic thing when it got too boring - i.e. most of it!

Feb 06 2003 14:05


>Sen: I sit in meetings

Sen: I sit in meetings because i'm too much of a coward to take any decsions, and too much of an idiot to come up with my own ideas.

>Andrew: I sit in meetings where they don't care what I say.

Andrew: I sit in meetings where they don't care what I say, because I'm a complete a***, and the things I say are badly thought out and self serving.

>Nona: I say the same thing to lots of people one after another and repeat it dozens of times.

Nona: I say the same thing to lots of people one after another and repeat it dozens of times, because I'm too clueless to either try and remove the red tape or document the process effectively and responsibly.

>Ram: I'm in charge of keys.

Ram: I'm in charge of keys, because everyone knows that the staff professionals actually run the finances and if they ever fell under a bus, the union would have to close down.

[Post edited to comply with Staff Student Protocol - Ed.]

Feb 06 2003 17:47

Is it actually possible for the current Executive Committee to ever come up with a single good decision?

This is moronic for many reasons including:

1. Sabbaticals should get a "stipend" not a "salary" - on principle it's not a paid job but a privilege one is given by the students.

2. The EPSRC stipend is set at a level to persuade students to carry on in study rather than get a job immediately - exactly what a sabb pay scale is for.

3. Sabbatical office is NOT A CLERICAL JOB! For goodness' sake! It will rank the sabbaticals on the same scale as the staff, which is quite inappropriate.

4. If this about "we pay the sabbaticals too much" then hold them to account better. If there are too many, then reduce them or re-assign their duties more effectively. Don't just cut the stipend just because you're too spineless to do your jobs properly.

15. Sam   
Feb 06 2003 17:54


Pay them what they are worth, don't worry about what scale it's linked to - that's not the issue.

The Sabb Salaries was supposed to be equivalent to the EPSRC grant, to negate the differential between a Sabb year and a PhD. Delinking means it is more profitable to do a PhD than be a Sabb - sometimes a disincentive for good candidates to stand. But not the only argument.

Regardless of this, pay a Sabb what you think (s)he is worth. That's the point of a wage... you get what you pay for. And if you're not getting that, hold them to account, like my learned colleague suggests.

The question of "what is a Sabb worth" i'll leave to someone else to discuss.

16. Gonzo   
Feb 06 2003 18:54

Sam: 'Students are supposed to run by students'

Well, perhaps the reason no-one votes in elections is that it makes absolutely no difference which lunatic is in charge. The sabbs don't do anything that only a student can do. Our union is not political, our sabbs are merely administrators. Professional administrators are better then amateur, therefore get rid of a few sabbs, employ or or two more administrators - get a better run union. We can still have a council to take decisions, we don't need sabb officers to apply them.

Closed This discussion is closed.

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