We are acutely aware of the strength of feeling on the ongoing pensions uncertainty and the impact it is having on our community. We are listening to your view, and your input has played an important role in shaping the College’s response to the situation to date.

We shall continue to seek transparency from all parties involved in the current discussions about the USS pension scheme, and to press for decisions based on evidence that is available to everyone. 

Summary of what the College has done so far

Following the conclusion of the 2017 valuation, USS consulted with UUK and employers on the 2018 valuation. This valuation included USS’s consideration of the report of the first Joint Expert Panel (JEP).

The USS Trustees consulted on three options. The College, after consultation with Heads of Department and staff, stated a preference for option 3. The majority of HEIs also opted for option 3 and this has now been agreed by the USS Trustee and submitted to the Pensions Regulator. The Pensions Regulator has advised that they do not expect to undertake any further investigations or to have any further questions following submission.

UUK then consulted with employers on protective measures to allow the Trustees to conclude that the covenant remains strong, which was a pre-condition to implementing option 3. Following discussion at President’s Board, the College sent a response [pdf] that supported the package of protective measures subject to further details on implementation.

The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) met on 22 August to consider UUK’s proposals under Option 3 to complete the valuation. The JNC agreed (by majority vote) on Option 3, that sets total contributions at 30.7% for the next two years and that the change in the rate should be shared 65:35 between employers and members respectively (21.1% for employers, 9.6% for employees from October 2019). You can read the responses from UUK and UCU who are the organisations represented on the JNC.

This would avoid a significant, and for many unaffordable, increase to contributions set out in the USS default 2017 valuation position already agreed with the Pensions Regulator from April 2020, while allowing time for the Joint Expert Panel to complete their work and move quickly towards a new valuation in 2020. 

The Pensions Regulator also needed to separately approve any new agreement reached between the parties. We have written directly [pdf] to the Pensions Regulator urging them to work with the other parties involved to come to a mutually agreeable valuation as soon as possible and avoid the default 2017 valuation contribution increases. Read the Pensions Regulator's reply [pdf].

The USS Trustee commenced a consultation with UUK on the proposed Recovery Plan for responding to the deficit assessed by it as at 31 March 2018, and on a revised Schedule of Contributions to confirm the contributions coming into effect from 1 October 2019.  UUK have consulted with employers – you can view our response [pdf]. UUK has now formally responded to the USS Trustee.

Separately, on 7 June we received a letter [pdf] from national UCU. Having discussed the draft with Heads of Department and received feedback and comments from the wider College community we sent our response [pdf] back to UCU on 19 June.