University of Edinburgh staff furious over ‘disastrous’ pay delays
Staff left with no pay for weeks hit out at Edinburgh University over ‘utterly disastrous’ changes to their finance system
Staff including professors and postgraduate researchers claim that many have had their pay delayed by two to three weeks with some struggling to pay their rent and bills. In emails seen by the Evening News its confirmed some have still not been paid for September while some didn't receive their pay in October which was due on the 28.
Several sources also confirmed that suppliers have stopped providing services to the University over unpaid bills – with at least one dating back to 2018. It comes as the University was ranked as one of the top in the UK, 5th in the UK in the top 30 worldwide by Times Higher Education.
The problems first started back in June when the University moved to a centralised HR, payroll and finance system called ‘People and money’. Bosses at the time said it would be up and running smoothly within two months. But it’s still causing significant delays in payments, sparking fears it’s driving staff and graduate students into hardship.
It’s also creating problems ordering supplies or completing research with some reporting they have had to front cash in the hundreds to pay for conferences or projects, after the student development office put a pause on funding while they make ‘adjustments’ to their finance process.
Staff are ‘livid’ that there has been no communication from bosses on the issue, criticising the ‘deafening’ silence on it since the problems started in the summer. It follows frustration over pay and benefits for the Principal, after the Evening News revealed that the University of Edinburgh paid £17,910 last year to maintain and run the Chancellor's £1.7 million townhouse.
One researcher, who asked not to be named, said: "This debacle has caused a lot of unnecessary stress. People depend on this income to pay their rent, mortgage and buy food and heat. I am reliant on my stipend to live. When I didn’t get mine last month I couldn’t get answers. I have been paid now but I know of many others who haven't. They are shafted.
"My own supervisor has had emails from suppliers saying they will not provide a service due to unpaid bills. We know of other suppliers as well. I’m livid about this because I hear of many people still having problems because of this shambles.
"Yet we’ve not even had one single email about it from the Chancellor to acknowledge it or say how and when it’s all going to be sorted. This is a huge failure, not paying grad students and pushing them into hardship is not acceptable. I believe it can’t be swept under the rug and there should be a public apology.”
A professor took to Twitter to call out the University over the problem. Tara Spires-Jones said the system is so bad that bills aren't being paid, suppliers are blacklisting the University and research is grinding to a halt in many ways. Many staff responded to the comments, with another who has worked at the University for more than 20 years branding it ‘utterly disastrous’.
A University spokesperson said: “The University recently implemented a new finance system, which required us to interrupt financial processing for a period over summer to allow us to test the system and transfer huge volumes of data. We apologise to any of our suppliers, students or staff who are experiencing a delay in payment. We have increased the number of people in our finance team who are working tirelessly to process the increased volume of outstanding invoices.
"The University prides itself in fostering good relationships with suppliers, and we are doing our best to ensure all payments are processed as quickly as possible. We are also acutely aware of the impact that this is having on some of our staff and students, and have apologised for the disruption.
"We will continue to communicate with our community to ensure they are aware of the work that is being undertaken to address their issues, and how we are prioritising payments. A technical error, unrelated to the University’s systems, caused a delay in stipend payments for some of our students this month.
"This has now been resolved and those students will be paid today. We have apologised to those affected for the stress this has caused, and we are working to ensure this will not happen again.”