It is important to clarify a number of points as the predictable scaremongering about the USS pension scheme appears to be increasing. First, such scaremongering is unhelpful. The University and College Union has always maintained that sensitive negotiations, whatever the issue, should take place around the negotiating table, not in the pages of Times Higher Education.
Many staff working in universities could command much higher salaries outside the academy and see their pensions as a vital compensatory factor. Higher education can ill afford to lose our best and brightest in this way. We have made it clear that we do not view a move to career-average schemes as acceptable or inevitable. It is also important that we make clear that any changes to the scheme will be put to UCU members.
What we need is long-term planning to protect final-salary pensions and retain the high-quality higher education staff who see them as part of their remuneration packages, not short-term panic.
Sally Hunt, General secretary, University and College Union.