The short answer to Dick Leigh's letter ( THES , December 21/28) is that the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme is written with age 60 as the normal retirement age whereas the Universities Superannuation Scheme (older universities) is written with age 65 as the normal retirement age. It follows that a given lump sum committed at retirement age would yield more added years pension than the same exercise entered into at age 60 under the teachers' scheme. Tabulations for one scheme cannot be meaningfully tacked onto another. But the various correspondents on the subject of redrawing the USS to work 1/60ths of terminal salary to improve pension levels are ignoring the source of the perceived problem, namely that terminal salaries have slipped in value over the past 20 years.
An estimated 25-30 per cent rise is needed to restore salaries - and pensions - to 1980 values. Something must be done to improve the pension prospects of those nearing retirement, since changing from 1/80th to 1/60th will affect only new entrants. Rejigging the fractional arithmetic is a non-starter for other reasons. The USS and the teachers' scheme both work on 1/80th and are members of the public-sector transfer club, whereby members transferring from old to new (post-1992) universities do so directly on a year-for-year of reckonable service. If one scheme went on to 1/60ths with different benefits, transfer values would have to be calculated in every case or members would remain in two schemes with one frozen. A single pension scheme for all universities would be even further off.
H. C. S. Ferguson