Pensions for all

January 17, 1997

The proposed changes in the pension scheme for teachers have added weight to the arguments for a new superannuation scheme to cover all professors, lecturers and academic-related staff in all universities and colleges of higher education.

There are already significant differences between the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which applies to the old universities, and the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme, which applies to the new universities and the colleges of higher education: differences which discourage mobility of employment between the old and the new; differences which require differential funding of old and new institutions. The proposed changes will increase and exaggerate these differences with harmful - and, it is believed, unconsidered - effects. As the changes will affect the ability of all universities and colleges to reorganise their staffing to meet the requirements of Government for so-called "efficiency gains", for changes in emphasis between subjects, and for at-a-stroke diminution of student numbers (as has happened particularly with teacher training), and so forth. It should be Government policy, as it has been in the past, that there should be fair treatment as between different institutions doing the same work: and that the Government should take responsibility for the cost of reorganisation which arises from the Government's policies.

Both of these requirements can only be met by setting up - a relatively simple operation - a single superannuation scheme for all higher education institutions, not affected by the changes proposed as these will affect lecturers leaving not of their own volition but of the Government's.

Christine Cheesman Chief executive, Association of University and College Lecturers

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