Position of different HEIs on USS

A group of colleagues have been working hard using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to obtain our employers’ real views re USS.

They have now received responses from 10 of 28 institutions (Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Lancaster, Durham, Warwick, Birmingham, Queen Mary’s, Exeter, and the LSE), but the Pensions Regulator and 18 other institutions (Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Nottingham, LSHTM, UCL, Imperial, Liverpool, York, Queen’s, Bath, Leicester, KCL, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, and Leeds) upheld their original decisions and have refused the appeals made. An appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has been made (this may take some time to get a response). When there is a response from the ICO, we will add details here. 

Summary of positions


  • Accepts level of risk proposed by USS trustees
    Birmingham, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter, Lancaster, LSE, Queen Mary’s, and Warwick.
  • Wants to reduce risk and increase the deficit
    Bristol, Cambridge

Continuing offering a defined benefit pension

  • Supports
    Birmingham, Durham, Lancaster, LSE, Queen Mary’s, Warwick
  • Opposes
    Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter
  • An early draft of Cambridge’s response opposed DB pensions, but the submitted version was uncertain.

Employer contributions

  • Willing to pay more than 18%
    Birmingham, Durham, Lancaster, LSE.
  • Willing to pay no more than 18%
    Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Queen Mary’s, Warwick

Update on the negotiation
The UUK are currently consulting universities over a potential compromise offer from the USS Joint Negotiating Committee. This offer would require some employers to comprise on their positions on the risk, increasing employer contributions, and retaining a defined benefit element to the scheme. The UUK have requested that employers respond to this consultation by 12th January 2018.

What else can we do?

  1. Let your colleagues know your concerns about the UUK’s proposals.
  2. Write to your university’s management about their position for this new consultation. Around 700 colleagues from Bristol and I sent a letter to our VC raising our concerns. I am finalising a response to the VC’s letter, which I will circulate around Bristol on Monday.
  3. Vote in the UCU ballot The UCU is currently balloting its members on strike action. The deadline for responding is the 19th of January. You can join the UCU here https://www.ucu.org.uk/join , and get a replacement ballot here https://www.ucu.org.uk/ussballotrequest
  4. Contact your MP Finally, you could write to your MP to request they sign an early day motion tabled in Parliament on academic pensions here. https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/619