Pay structures


Following an agreement between trade unions and higher education employers to modernise pay arrangements in the sector, known as the National Framework Agreement, in 2006 the University implemented a new pay and grading structure. The new structure replaced a complex system of numerous different pay and grading systems with a single pay and grading structure underpinned by HERA. The University pays people appropriately for the work they carry out. HERA is used to evaluate all roles on grades 1-10 and Senior staff and determine on which grade they are placed on the pay structure. 

Information on the implementation of the pay and grading structure, including details of how old grades mapped to the new structure, can be provided on request. 

Support staff (grades 1-5)

support staff

Academic-related staff (grades 6-10)


Main Salary and grading structure

Oxford University operates a main salary and grading structure based on a National Pay Spine.

Salaries are uplifted in line with national agreements on an annual basis (the 'cost of living allowance' or COLA),  normally in August. Staff salary scales are normally reviewed with effect from 1 August of each year in response to nationally agreed salary settlements, where these are approved by Council for implementation at Oxford.

Oxford is accredited as a living wage employer. The bottom points of the pay scale are therefore reviewed annually in line with the increase in the living wage.

Recruitment and starting salaries

Departments may determine the starting salaries of new academic-related and university support staff subject to the following guidance.

  1. Appointments should normally be made to the bottom point of the appropriate grade.

  2. Whenever it is proposed that an appointment is made to a salary above the bottom point of the appropriate grade, departments will wish to verify, inter alia, the stated current salaries of appointees before confirming any salary offer. This will normally be by asking an appropriate referee to confirm current salary in advance of an offer of appointment, or by asking a successful candidate to provide evidence of current salary, for example a recent pay-slip.

  3. Departments considering an appointment above the bottom point of the substantive grade should base any salary offer on the prospective employee’s existing salary, aiming to recruit at the minimum point necessary to secure the appointment.

  4. Superscale discretionary points points may be deployed with the approval of the head of department in the following circumstances:

    1. when a post is advertised, providing that the head of department is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence, for example from a recent recruitment exercise, to demonstrate that it is unlikely that a suitable candidate would be found unless the availability of the discretionary points is advertised;
    2. where it is considered necessary to appoint to the discretionary range in order to appoint a clearly exceptional candidate.
  5. When exercising their discretion to determine salaries within the scale, departments will, of course, have to take into account the position of existing comparable staff within the department as well as the requirements in respect of gender and ethnicity of the Equality Act 2010. Departments should contact the Reward team for guidance on addressing any pay anomalies that arise as a result of awarding recruitment increments.

Underfilling of posts

Normally, posts will be filled at the substantive post grade. However, in certain circumstances a post may be filled one grade lower than the substantive post grade whenever:-

  1. the post has been advertised quoting alternative grades;
  2. the candidate to be appointed lacks the necessary experience to carry out the full duties of the post at the post grade; and
  3. a specific adjustment of the post duties has been made.

Where a post is underfilled a development plan should be put in place. This should make clear milestones which must be met by the individual in order to be promoted to the substantive grade. It is normally expected that the milestones would be met within one year.

Where a department wishes to fill a post at more than one grade below the post grade, a fresh staff request should be submitted.

QRG CH21 Managing Underfills (156kb)

Incremental progression

Eligibility for automatic incremental progression

Provided that they have been in post (in Core terms, in an appointment) for at least three months prior to the incremental date, staff should receive an annual increment within their scale, and thereafter annually until they reach the maximum point of the service scale for the grade of their post, i.e. an employee appointed to an academic-related post on 1 July would have their first automatic increment on 1 October of the same year, but an employee appointed to an academic-related post on 1 August would have their first automatic increment on 1 October of the following year.  

There is no automatic incremental progression into or within the discretionary range. 

Incremental dates

1 August for support staff (grades 1-5)

1 October for academic-related staff  (grades 6-10)

Incremental progression is applicable to all staff on scale points within the normal range. Outside grants should therefore wherever possible provide for incremental progress each year as well as where appropriate, for reward and recognition, and inflation uplifts.

Discretionary range

For university support staff (grades 1-5) and academic-related staff (grades 6-10), discretionary points may be used for the reasons of recruitment (see above), retention, or through the Reward and Recognition scheme.

There is no automatic incremental progression into or within the discretionary range.

The Associate Professor grade (10a)

Grade 10a is the grade for Associate Professors. The scale point shows the combined university and college stipend for holders of joint appointments. Recruitment to the Associate Professor grade is managed by the divisions. Super-scale payments to Associate Professors for recruitment and retention purposes must be authorised by the Senior Appointments Panel.



Departments should regularly review the distribution of salaries within grades for their staff and seek to address any anomalies. Departments should contact the Reward team for guidance on addressing any pay anomalies. The University regularly monitors the distribution of salaries through conducting equal pay audits.

Other pay structures 

Outwith the main pay and grading structure the University operates grades for the employment of clinical academic and related staff and Professors. Information on these grades can be found on the salary scales web pages.

Senior appointments

Salaries for jobs larger than grade 10; senior managerial (ALC6) and research staff (RSIV), are set and reviewed by the Senior Appointments Panel.

Other pay procedures

The following list covers the procedures which fall outwith the main pay structure: