Dear Colleagues,

Following the news earlier this week that the revised benefit reform proposal had been rejected by UCU we wanted to update you on the current situation and progress with our own plans.

We supported the terms of the revised proposal with the unanimous agreement of Provost’s Board. UUK issued a statement on Wednesday calling for urgent talks to resume and we hope further negotiations will find a solution to the current dispute. Professor Simone Buitendijk (Vice-Provost for Education), the Faculty Vice-Deans (Education) and David Ashton (Academic Registrar) will continue working with Department representatives to advise on local plans to minimise the impact on our students’ education.

The difficult discussions taking place between these national organisations highlight the need to find a more thoughtful and balanced approach to pension provision beyond the current simplistic split between defined benefit and defined contribution. As we reported in our last message our colleague Professor Axel Gandy is exploring viable long term solutions with experts from other universities. UUK’s statement this week repeated their commitment to our proposal to establish an independent expert valuation group. In support of our own academics contributing to this process we have written to the USS directly to ask them to provide further detailed information following their initial discussions with Professor Damiano Brigo and colleagues.

The work of our academics and other experts from across the sector will help to provide greater transparency now and in the future. This is why we wrote to the Pensions Reguator (TPR) requesting an extension to the regulatory deadline should it be needed. On Wednesday we received a response from TPR Chief Executive, Lesley Titcomb. While she explained the TPR does not have power to extend or waive the legal requirement to submit a valuation within the statutory deadline we are encouraged by her commitment to take ‘a pragmatic and open-minded approach.’

Some of you have already responded to the questions in the Pay and Benefits Review pack that was provided last week. A supplementary pack of information about our investment in our teaching and research infrastructure such as estates and facilities will be sent next week. We encourage you to participate in the consultation – individually or through existing groups. We are committed to providing an overall package of benefits commensurate with our position as a world-leading institution. Your input will help shape the principles to inform our decisions.

We continue to listen to your concerns and advocate on your behalf and as we learn more we will keep you updated on our position.

Best wishes,

Alice and James

Professor Alice P. Gast, President, Imperial College London

Professor James Stirling, Provost, Imperial College London