Top-up pensions contributions

May 5, 2000

John Mitchell (Letters, THES, April 28) seemingly thinks research grant-holders, rather than universities, are "employers" of those whose salaries are funded by the grant.

The Association of University Teachers deplores this attitude. All too frequently it leads to these "employers" persuading such researchers to opt out of USS, allowing diversion to other purposes of the funder's provision for the employer contribution.

The problem facing research staff - and others in universities - is not "regressive taxation" through the USS, but the prospect of insufficient pensionable service for a decent pension. So the earlier provision begins, the better.

For the many researchers who stay in the UK public sector, even if not in the USS, the subsidy to the USS involved in any transfer out is made good by the receiving scheme. Others who leave at a youngish age may not get the full benefit of their employer contributions, but it would be naive to suppose that savings in employer contributions could be earmarked for their benefit.

That is why the AUT is committed to promoting the availability of the USS for all its members across the higher education sector.

Christine Cheesman Assistant general secretary Association of University Teachers

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