SUCU Branch News 26 Feb 2015

USS: Management too should reject the restructuring

SUCU met with management recently to press management to publicly distance themselves from the UUK position on USS – UUK being the University managements’ national body. The radical restructuring of USS which is proposed is damaging to all current and future staff members of USS, and also to the interests of the institution as a whole.

We talked through figures from one of USS’s own documents that show the £2.9bn deficit of 2011 disappearing over the three years to March 2014 only to be replaced with more pessimistic assumptions which create a £12.3bn deficit instead.

Management said, quite reasonably, that an ‘attractive pension scheme’ is in the University’s interest, and that every 1% increase in their contribution rates adds £2m annually to their overall wage bill. SUCU pointed out that if these changes go through, the highly questionable valuation methodology will, since 2011, have added £8m annually to the University’s costs, arguably unnecessarily.

UUK’s position is inconsistent: their actuaries have not criticised the work of UCU’s actuaries, but this didn’t change UUK’s support for the changes. There have been behind-the-scenes back-testing of previous valuations using an approach advocated by UCU, which apparently shows a much more stable fund which better matches experience; however USS’s actuaries won’t allow the release of these results claiming ‘intellectual property rights’.

We are not conspiracy theorists, but the more that one reads about this the more it looks like a stitch-up.

SUCU has asked the University management to join the heavyweights of Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial etc who have spoken out against the need for radical structural change.  Imperial have gone further and commissioned an excellent report from five of their academic staff with relevant knowledge.

We believe that an in depth study of all the documents and their implications reveals the necessity of rejecting the radical restructuring of USS.  We urged our management to undertake this study, rather than largely relying on the word of UUK and USS.SUCU has written a summary here collating the information, with links to further reading.  A dedicated webpage will soon be set up to keep member updated – so please watch this space.

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