Many staff have expressed to me their deep concern about strike action planned for tomorrow regarding the proposed changes to the USS pension scheme, and their desire to avoid a protracted dispute. The University is also keen to avoid a dispute if at all possible and I and other colleagues have spoken to UUK directly in an effort to seek a solution.
The position of our University and Council is that we understand change is necessary to ensure pensions remain sustainable and affordable. Having said that, the University has always sought to ensure any changes extend only to what is necessary to achieve this aim.
There has been much comment on this issue in the media and I recognise there are concerns regarding the valuation underpinning the current proposals for change. We have been in contact with UUK again today to seek clarity over the specific points being raised and are awaiting a response.
It is important that we all have confidence in the valuation process and we are keen to check this is the case. The University Council's position is that the scheme assumptions should be prudent but not unduly pessimistic. I will continue to represent this approach for necessary and reasonable change only. Even at this late stage we urge national representatives on both sides to return to talks so an agreed solution can be found, delivering a high-quality and sustainable pension scheme for the sector.
As you would expect, if industrial action does take place, we are committed to minimise the impact on our students but we will continue to work with all concerned for a positive solution.
Professor Sir Keith Burnett FRS President and Vice-Chancellor