UK university staff have been offered a pay increase of 1.7 percent for the year 2018-19.

The offer of a pay increase was made on Friday 13 April by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), which negotiates the pay of staff at nearly 150 higher education institutions in the country.

The offer was made in a second meeting with union representatives.

According to UCEA, the offer would mean the average pay increase received by employees within the sector would be in excess of three percent, once additional incremental rises to staff seniority are considered.

However, the offer is below the current inflation rate, which was 2.7 percent in March, and had run at three percent or higher since October.

Trade unions have since asked for a 7.5 percent pay increase or an extra £1,500 annually, whichever is greater, as well as a £10 minimum wage to ensure that all higher education institutes are “living wage” employers.

The head of higher education for the University and Colleges Union (UCU), Paul Bridge, said the higher education trade union was unhappy with the offer. He said the “sub-inflation opening offer does nothing to maintain the value of staff pay.”

The union have since asked UCEA to “go back to their subscribers and seek a fresh mandate” for a higher offer, which would guarantee fair staff pay.

The vice-chancellor of Lancaster University, Mark Smith, who also chairs the UCEA, said that universities are “committed to arriving at the best possible outcome we can in what are unprecedented times.”

Professor Smith said factors including a tuition fee freeze, decreasing student applications, and a funding review in England were all limiting the ability of institutions to award higher increases.

Smith added that Brexit was another large uncertainty. Smith added that the UCEA had “discussed and responded to all elements of the [UCU’s] claim, constructively exploring these within a context of increasing costs, uncertainty, and significant financial constraint in the sector.”

“We ask that the trade unions carefully consider these positive moves towards a settlement,” he concluded.

The final meeting between UCEA and trade unions will take place on Thursday 10 May.