Accounting by Aslan

May 7, 2015

Your financial health check of universities (“Keep squirrelling away the nuts”, Features, 30 April) showed that the sector reported net assets “excluding pension liabilities” of an impressive £40 billion at July 2014. The financial fairies have obviously taken care of our £5 billion pension liabilities so we needn’t worry. This does, however, make one wonder why we’re paying millions to fund these deficits – and in hard cash, too – if we’re supposed to ignore them in a health check? Perhaps, just maybe, they are real liabilities and shouldn’t be ignored?

What’s worse is that the £5 billion of pension liabilities reported in the sector’s balance sheet excludes the deficit of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which must be in the Narnia balance sheet, and any call for increased funding must equally be illusory. But fear not, this will all be sorted out in 2015-16, when changes to accounting rules will mean that all our pension liabilities, including those of the USS, will be firmly on our balance sheets – and hopefully you won’t pretend that they don’t exist in future.

Andrew Connolly
Chief financial officer
University of Exeter

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns