Back in March, Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU) proposed
to jointly establish a panel of independent experts to review the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The panel would examine the scheme valuation and agree key principles to underpin the future joint approach to the valuation of the USS fund from which pensions are paid. The proposal aimed to resolve the USS pension dispute, at the heart of which is the valuation of the scheme.
UCU agreed to consult their members on the proposal
and on Friday 13 April the results
of the UCU consultation were announced. Of the 63.5% of members who voted, 64% said yes to the supporting the proposal.
Now that the proposal has been accepted, UUK has confirmed
that, in partnership with UCU, a jointly agreed chair for the panel will be appointed as soon as possible in order to develop terms of reference, order of work and timescales.
UCU has now suspended its industrial action but plans to keep its legal strike mandate live until the agreement between UCU and UUK is noted by USS.
The suspension of industrial action will be welcome news for our students, giving them reassurance as they go into the final term of the academic year and assessment period.
During the strike action I wrote a number of times to UUK and UCU, voicing the concerns of colleagues and urging both parties to continue talks. I support the concept of a joint expert panel and hope its establishment will be a positive step to ensuring a sustainable pension scheme.
Before Easter, I reflected on the impact of the strike action on our community. It is clear that if we are to continue to excel as an institution, we need to reaffirm our common purpose and work more closely to ensuring success. There are many challenges ahead, including the government review of funding of tertiary education, Brexit and the Office for Students as our new Regulator. Therefore we shall start consulting shortly about how we can improve decision making and communication, to enable us to respond to the many external pressures our sector faces.
Professor Paul Layzell