Andrew Oswald's Soapbox article last week calling on the Universities Supperannuation Scheme to increase members' pensions has attracted a flurry of support (Letters, opposite). Staff at universities, who have seen their salaries held down year after year to pay for underfunded expansion of higher education, are not amused that their pensions too may be held down to help their employers.
The employers' contribution to USS has been reduced from 18 per cent to 14 per cent of salary over recent years, thereby helping universities balance the books in the face of continuing government "efficiency" cuts. The fund, though bulging, is therefore less bulging than it could have been, and the three active vice-chancellors among the USS's trustees must be at risk of seeming overly sympathetic in their policies to employers' needs. USS has recently bowed to campaigning pressure to switch to ethical investment policies. It is also eager to recruit more members. What better way to attract them than by extending its fit of conscience to providing more generous benefits to its members?