In this climate, USS plans are generous

March 17, 2011

In a letter to Times Higher Education on 10 March ("Employers, it's Acas or action - your choice"), Sally Hunt, the University and College Union's general secretary, threatens strike action to overturn decisions already made for necessary reforms to the Universities Superannuation Scheme. I urge the UCU to reconsider its position and return to the USS joint negotiating committee, the only appropriate forum for considering changes to the scheme.

The proposed changes are moderate and are the minimum necessary to address the risks facing the USS. The employers' view is that there is no scope for further improvement to the plans beyond the significant changes that have already been made as a result of the consultation process.

Our view is reinforced by changing circumstances. Since the proposals were agreed in July 2010, unprecedented cuts in teaching funding mean that institutions in England have much less certainty about one of their main funding sources. Funding will now follow the student through variable tuition fees, and the USS covenant has been weakened as a result.

To these financial pressures we must add the rapidly changing political agenda that has given far greater urgency to public sector pensions reform and the need to bring final-salary provision to an end. Continuing delays in implementing the changes will inevitably raise the question among employers of whether the current proposals are sufficiently radical to deal with the deteriorating financial environment that universities now face.

I believe that it is in the interests of all scheme members that this package of reforms, which retains final-salary arrangements for current members, is implemented. The UCU, the employers and USS representatives have worked hard over a long period to shape the reforms. I genuinely believe that they will come to be seen as remarkably good given the circumstances in higher education and the wider economy.

Brian Cantor, Chair of the Employers Pension Forum

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

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy