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This page summarises the background to the changes and the current situation. For more information on the parties involved and terms used below, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.


Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is one of the largest principal private pension schemes for universities and other higher education institutions in the UK.

At the last valuation date (31 March 2017), the USS Trustee confirmed that the USS scheme had a deficit which legally needed to be addressed.

Universities UK (UUK), who represent over 350 USS employers, has been negotiating with the University and College Union (UCU), who represent the scheme members, over changing the scheme since January 2017 given the funding challenges it faces. 

What's happening to my pension contributions?

Following the conclusion of the 2017 valuation, USS consulted with UUK and employers on the 2018 valuation. 

Following this consultation USS are now proceeding with Option 3 for October 2019. Imperial supported this as the least worst option and the one that would lead to lower contributions than the 2017 valuation - which would otherwise have been in place until the Joint Expert Panel second report (JEP2) can be taken into consideration for the 2020 valuation.

Option 3 means total contributions of 30.7% into USS made up of 21.1% of salary for employers and 9.6% of salary for employees. You can find out more about what this will mean for your contributions by downloading our modeller [Excel].

How did this decision come about?

It follows a meeting of the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) on 22 August to consider UUK’s proposals under Option 3 to complete the valuation. The JNC agreed (by majority vote) on Option 3, which sets total contributions at 30.7% for the next two years. It also specifies that the change in contribution 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.

The USS Trustee consulted 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 consulted with employers – you can view our response [pdf]. UUK then formally responded to the USS Trustee.

The new briefing for Heads of Department on pensions and pay [pdf] has further background.