Pension shortfall fears over Scottish referendum

A £9.8 billion shortfall in the main university pension scheme could be payable if Scotland left the UK following a vote on independence in 2014

July 30, 2013

The European Union imposes more stringent terms on pension schemes when they span two member states, as they could be with Scotland and the remainder of the UK if Scots voted for independence.

A spokesman for the Universities Superannuation Scheme said that there “may well be considerable implications for the scheme” in the event of independence.

“The trustee board will continue to assess the potential impacts on the scheme, and how best to address them,” he said, although he added that it was not yet clear whether an independent Scotland would be a member of the EU.

The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday that a £9.8 billion hole in the scheme would need to be filled immediately following independence.

Scottish Conservatives education spokeswoman Liz Smith said that the country’s universities “stand to gain very much more if Scotland remains part of the UK”.

“This is true in terms of the higher per capita funding Scottish universities receive from UK research councils, in terms of knowledge exchange and innovation, and in terms of economies of scale which help UK universities compete more effectively on the global stage,” she said in a statement yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Universities UK said that it was discussing the pension issue with the USS. “The issues are complex and are currently under review,” she said.

According to a spokeswoman for Scottish finance secretary John Swinney, the EU has already relaxed rules on filling deficits in joint pension schemes between the UK and Ireland.

“There is no reason why similar arrangements would not be possible between the rest of the UK and Scotland,” she said.

“These deficits exist now as part of the union and are a problem for the whole of the UK under the current arrangements. They are nothing to do with independence,” she added.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald