Letter: shrinking pensions could lead to recruitment disaster

January 18, 2018
USS, pension, pensions, retire
Source: iStock

We write as senior academics to express our concern about the proposal from Universities UK to end guaranteed pension payments in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (“UUK reforms ‘will cut USS pensions by up to 40 per cent’”, News, 30 November).

The USS is the main pension scheme for academic and related staff in the pre-92 institutions and, since its foundation, has provided a decent income in retirement for hundreds of thousands of people. In a sector where many would earn more working in the private sector, the USS pension has provided compensation for relatively modest salaries and has acted as a magnet for talented overseas staff.

The UUK proposals mean the replacement of guaranteed pensions with a defined contribution scheme that will be wholly dependent on movements in stocks and shares. First Actuarial estimates that a typical lecturer will receive £208,000 less under the proposals than presently. For universities that rely on the USS to help recruit and retain staff this will be a disaster, with lecturers enjoying retirement income of an estimated £400,000 less than their colleagues in the rival Teachers’ Pension Scheme, which mainly enrols staff in post-92 universities.

Young university staff work hard yet have endured years of pay restraint and casual contracts, while watching many at the top enjoy great rewards. Now that the USS – arguably the best aspect of the employment package – is at risk, we want to stand shoulder to shoulder with all our colleagues, and especially the next generation, to defend our profession.

Professor John Kelly

Professor James Ladyman

Professor Jon Tonge

Professor Ed Hall

Professor Fintan Cullen

Professor Marc Goergen

Professor Heidy Mader

Professor Richard Nolan

Professor Andrew Lemmey

Professor J D Biggins

Professor Jonothan Neelands

Professor Evgeny Dobrenko

Professor Daniel Siemens

Professor Nicki Hitchcott

Professor Graham Turner

Professor Jutta Weldes

Professor Yoav Ben-Shlomo

Professor Sally R Munt

Professor Eve Rosenhaft

Professor Fiona Macmillan

Professor Elisabeth Dedman

Professor Michael Otsuka

Professor Alexander Schekochihin

Professor John Gough

Professor Grace James

Professor Sarah Salway

Professor Andrew Watterson

Professor Jonathan Burnside

Professor Bill Lee

Professor Keith Ewing

Professor Stephen Payne

Professor Andreas Bieler

Professor Adrian Hartley

Professor Frank Sengpiel

Professor of Frank McGroarty

Professor Jeremy Dawson

Professor Graham Room

Professor David Attwell

Professor David C Lane

Professor Anthony Carbery

Professor Richard Dawson

Professor Keith Ansell-Pearson

Professor Andrew Bennett

Professor Peter Emery

Professor Paul Dowling

Professor Peter Kitson

Professor Julian Ketley

Professor Ros King

Professor Paul Hallett

Professor Finbarr O'Harte

Professor Chris Read

Professor Alex Sharpe

Professor Daniel McLaughlin

Professor Hamish Cunningham

Professor Peter McDermott

Professor Christoph Ortner

Professor Raymond Dalgleish

Professor Gareth Gaskell

Professor Alison Avenell

Professor Mike Danson

Professor Peter Styles

Professor Colleen McLaughlin

Professor John Arnold

Professor Andrew Meirion Jones

Professor Alex Lascarides

Professor Jan Skakle

Professor Oriel Sullivan

Professor Steve Vincent

Professor Raimund Karl

Professor Jennifer Rusted

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