In March 2021 we ran a survey to gather feedback from staff on the USS valuation report, to feed into the UUK consultation with employers. The survey was open to all Imperial staff who are eligible to join USS.

You can view a summary of the survey responses [pdf] which provides an overview of your feedback, as well as a short introduction covering what a valuation is and why USS are proposing that contribution rates be increased. You can also view the full results of the survey below.

If you have any questions about the survey results or the valuation, please do come along to one of our monthly drop-in sessions.

Full results

Which job family are you part of?

  • Learning and teaching: 7% of respondents
  • Professional, technical and operational services: 41% of respondents
  • Research: 19% of respondents
  • Academic: 33% of respondents

Please select the option that best describes you:

  • I am a member of USS: 98% of respondents
  • I used to be a member of USS, but I have withdrawn: <1% of respondents
  • I chose to opt-out on commencing employment: 2% of respondents

If you used to be a member of USS but have withdrawn, why did you withdraw from the scheme?

  • Financial pressures due to the pandemic: 100% of respondents

If you have opted out of USS on commencing employment, why did you opt out?

  • I am on a fixed term contract: 44% of respondents
  • Contribution rates were not affordable for me: 33% of respondents
  • Other: 22% of respondents

To keep the current benefit structure, contributions as a percentage of your pensionable salary will need to increase.  At what level would you find this no longer affordable?

  • 9.6% current rate: 11.6% of respondents
  • 11% October 21 rate: 27.2% of respondents
  • 12%: 19.0% of respondents
  • 13%: 9.3% of respondents
  • 14%: 6.2% of respondents
  • 15%: 14.2% of respondents
  • 16%: 3.7% of respondents
  • 17%: 0.3% of respondents
  • 18%: 8.5% of respondents

You currently earn a pension income using a formula that takes your earnings, up to the earnings threshold, and divides this by 75 to give your annual pension. Would you accept a less generous accrual rate than the current 1/75th in order to maintain a Defined Benefit section?

  • Yes: 29% of respondents
  • No: 71% of respondents

The earnings threshold where the scheme switches from Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution is currently just under £60,000. Reducing this may reduce costs. In your opinion, at what level would you consider the scheme still provides good value for money?

  • £60,000: 36.7% of respondents
  • £50,000: 43.8% of respondents
  • £40,000: 14.2% of respondents
  • £30,000: 2.1% of respondents
  • £20,000: 0.7% of respondents
  • £10,000: 0.0% of respondents
  • £0: 2.5% of respondents

Currently 20% of salary in excess of the threshold is paid into the Defined Contribution section.  USS can reduce this and use some of these contributions to maintain the more costly Defined Benefit section.  Would you support this to keep Defined Benefits?

  • Yes: 59% of respondents
  • No: 41% of respondents

Would you accept no automatic lump sum on future pension earned as a way of reducing costs? You will still be offered the option of swapping some of your pension into cash on retirement subject to limits if you wished to.

  • Yes: 44% of respondents
  • No: 56% of respondents

The scheme currently increases pensions in payment and deferred pensions by more than the statutory minimum required. The statutory minimum is capped at CPI up to a maximum of 2.5% whilst the scheme currently uses a cap of CPI or 5%. Would you support reducing this to the statutory minimum in order to reduce costs?

  • Yes: 53% of respondents
  • No: 47% of respondents

We increasingly hear from staff that they would prefer a more flexible pension arrangement than the current offering from USS.  Would you prefer to keep the current hybrid scheme even if you may have to pay more or would you prefer a lower cost defined contribution arrangement that allows you to choose what you wish to save?

  • Keep current structure: 41% of respondents
  • Move to flexible DC scheme: 36% of respondents
  • Don't know: 23% of respondents

Are there are any other issues you’d like to
raise about the USS pension valuation so that we may feedback to UUK? (Comments grouped by theme.)

  • Distrust of valuation and USS: 40% of respondents
  • Switching to a DC scheme: 23% of respondents
  • Generational unfairness: 11% of respondents
  • Increase in salary (to support rising contributions): 6% of respondents
  • Considering opting out: 6% of respondents
  • Other: 14% of respondents