Pull out calmly

February 7, 1997

We believe pensions should be taken very seriously. They are after all income which lecturers will rely on when their career ends.

In response to Peter Koch's letter (THES, January 31) we are not saying there is no room for improvement in the Teachers Superannuation Scheme or there should not be harmonisation across the higher education system. However, decisions of substance such as pulling out of a pension scheme should be taken calmly and not as a kneejerk reaction to Government proposals. It has been our experience that where there are moves to take people out of pensions schemes (for example in the Jersey Teachers Superannuation Fund) inferior benefits are offered to new entrants.

Figures show that lecturers in the new universities and higher education institutions have been leaving early at a rate of more than twice that of school teachers. Departures peaked in 1989 when one in 18 lecturers left (5.4 per cent). This dropped in 1990 to 4.8 per cent. After dropping further to 2.4 per cent in 1993 it rose again in 1994 to 3.3 per cent. Departures in schools on the other hand have been stable at 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent a year.

The majority of retirements in higher education have been not of lecturers' own volition but through redundancy as a result of Government policy. We agree with the Association of University and College Lecturers that the Government should take responsibility for the cost of its policies and oppose the proposals which could result in pensions not being paid upon redundancy.

Joan Gordon

Pensions officer, Natfhe

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