USS consultation website ‘does not allow comments’

Academics complain after ‘technical difficulties’ delay responses and modelling tool

March 19, 2015

The Universities Superannuation Scheme has been criticised for launching a consultation website that does not yet allow people to comment on proposed changes to their pensions.

Thousands of staff at pre-1992 universities have recently been sent letters by the USS, which ask them to comment on plans for the scheme, including the end of final salary pensions for all staff from April 2016.

However, those accessing the site have been unable to make comments about the changes.

They are also unable to work out exactly how the changes will affect them because a benefits modeller, which compares the current and proposed schemes, is not working.

A message on the site states the USS is “currently experiencing some technical difficulties” and it is “working on resolving these issues as a matter of urgency”.

“The member log-in, response form and modeller will be available shortly”, it adds.

Polina Bayvel, professor of optical communications and networks at University College London, said she was “annoyed at having wasted time going to the website given the letters we all received informing us that we can respond from 13 March”.

“There is clearly a delay, but why send out the letters and waste people’s time,” she said.

“The documents currently on the website have been circulated previously and are not new,” she added in regard to the detailed descriptions and summaries of the proposed changes that are available to view.

She said she was keen to comment as “there is a strong feeling among academics…that the changes represent a case of ‘daylight robbery’”.

“Many of us had joined USS expecting to receive certain benefits and have made our life choices - on houses, mortgages, children’s schools - based on the often reiterated benefits offered by the scheme. I, for one, feel cheated,” she said.

The statutory 60-day consultation, which is due to run until 22 May, follows the acceptance of a revised pension offer from employers.

Members of University and College Union at pre-1992 universities voted two to one in favour of the reforms designed to plug an estimated £13 billion deficit, which will include the closure of the final salary pension scheme from next year.

Employees have been asked to comment on the plans, with comments reviewed by employers, the USS trustee board and the Joint Negotiating Committee before the proposed changes are adopted.

A USS spokeswoman said it had not released the modeller “as we are completing some further technical checks”.

“The detailed consultation information has however been available on the website since Friday 13 March and further content, including the modeller, will be added in the coming days,” she said.

She added that there is “currently no impact on planned timescales” regarding the 60-day consultation, and that USS would “continue to support employers to meet their consultation responsibilities and ensure that affected employees have adequate time to consider the proposed changes and respond”.

jack.grove@tesglobal.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 6 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

Featured Jobs

Head of Visual Arts UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
Research Officer - Big Data for Better Outcomes LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Lecturer in Oral Microbiology UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest