28 October 2021
Dear Dr Gaines,
I write further to UCU’s open letter dated 25th October 2021 regarding my statement to
Professional Pensions concerning the USS pensions dispute.
While I appreciate that UCU may not agree with my statement, as a university leader and a spokesperson for UUK, it remains my view that changes to the scheme are unfortunately necessary if we are to avoid unaffordable contribution increases for both employees and employers. Without reforms to the scheme, the USS Trustee has confirmed it will impose contribution rises from April 2022, rising to 18.8% for members and 38.2% for employers by 2023, to address the scheme deficit.
I am sure we can all agree on the importance of a good pension provision and I am concerned that we will see an even greater number of staff leave or not join USS because the contribution rates are unaffordable.
My statement, while not specific to Brunel, recognises the impact of further pension contribution rises for universities at a time of already great financial challenge and university leaders are indeed concerned about the impact of such increases on the financial sustainability of their institution. My comments are not meant in any way to cause alarm or voter suppression but instead reflect the uncomfortable reality that some employers will face if we are unable to shore up USS by making changes that guarantee good benefits without significant additional costs.
Professor Julia Buckingham
Vice-Chancellor and President