Dear Colleagues,

We hope you had a relaxing Easter break. We wanted to write to update you on a number of developments on USS pensions and on the College Pay and Benefits Review since our last message on 28 March.

UCU ballot on the latest proposals to resolve the university pensions dispute

We supported the ACAS proposal for a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) to examine the data and analysis behind the current USS valuation and key principles for future valuations. The outcome of the UCU ballot to accept this proposal is a welcome step forward and in line with our call in February to convene an expert group. To ensure its legitimacy and effectiveness, the JEP must now be constituted with members having the technical expertise necessary to fully explore and evaluate USS valuations and methodologies. The JEP’s work must also be fully transparent and made accessible to anyone with an interest, at every step of the way. We will continue to advocate for this. As we have said before, any experts from the College represented on the JEP or asked to provide evidence will have our full support.

USS response

On Wednesday, the USS Trustees responded to the ballot result saying they were prepared to engage with the JEP, subject to its terms of reference. In parallel they will continue to comply with their statutory obligations to complete the 2017 valuation. We urge all parties involved to allow the JEP the time and independence it needs to complete its work in a legitimate and transparent way. The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will ultimately decide on the scheme’s viability based on the statutory funding framework but it has acknowledged the complexity surrounding the completion of the 2017 Valuation. We also understand the TPR sees the JEP as an opportunity for the key stakeholders to work together to avoid future disputes. We support this view and hope that all stakeholders will work together towards a sustainable, equitable and fair pension scheme.

Pay and Benefits Review

While the national organisations involved in this dispute constitute the JEP and examine the valuation process, we are continuing with our own Pay and Benefits Review. We are reading through the many thoughtful and considered individual and group contributions from colleagues in advance of a discussion at the Provost’s Board on Friday 27 April. We will of course update you on the outcome of that meeting and ongoing discussions.

There will no doubt be further developments over the coming days and weeks and we will continue to keep you informed and listen to your feedback.

Best wishes, 

Alice and James

Professor Alice Gast, President, Imperial College London

Professor James Stirling, Provost, Imperial College London