LECTURERS from universities across the UK are to be balloted on strike action in a row over pay.

Some 70,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) are being asked to back action unless there is an improved pay offer from employers.

The dispute has arisen after the Universities and Colleges’ Employers Association (Ucea) made a final offer of two per cent following talks in May.

The UCU said the offer failed to address the falling value of salaries in higher education pay, which they argue have declined in real terms by 21 per cent since 2009.

Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official, said: "Staff working in universities have had enough of seeing their pay held down while some principals take home exorbitant pay rises and max out expense accounts.

"The employers' pay offer does nothing to address years of decline in the value of our members’ wages and we’ve been left with no option but to ballot for strike action."

However, a spokesman for Ucea disputed the 21 per cent figure - and said they would press ahead with payments.

He added: "It is disappointing that after extended talks over the spring and summer and a genuine attempt to address concerns through joint working proposals UCU is balloting for industrial action.

"We advised our employers that the pay outcome for 2018/19 be implemented as employers do not feel it right to make employees wait to receive their significant pay increase for the several more months."