Open letter to USSU from Surrey UCU re USS

Dear University of Surrey Students’ Union

You may not be aware that there is a formal UCU Ballot taking place at the moment, UCU members are voting on whether to take strike action, or action short of a strike. This ballot runs until 19th January and is a response to the drastic proposal that the employers (UUK) have made on staff pensions (USS).

UUK are proposing to change the pension from a
 guaranteed return (defined benefits scheme ) to a gamble on the stock market at the point of retirement (defined contribution scheme), and this is especially concerning for early career academics who have not accrued defined benefits over a long career. If UCU allow this to happen, university graduates also entering academia as employees will inherit a very poor deal.  UCU members also have significant concerns over the claim that the current scheme is in deficit, a claim only generated by a valuation which assumes that the entire HE sector will end on an unspecified date, and that no new University staff will therefore be paying in to the USS scheme.

We are aware that the employers are divided on this proposal, and that the VCs at Warwick and Glasgow are supporting guaranteed pensions and UCU:

The VC at Warwick states that he is ‘mystified’ at the stance taken by UUK:

The University of Glasgow has stated that it would prefer to keep a Defined Benefits Scheme and ‘The University believes that its interests are aligned with those of the UCU and that all parties should work together constructively to identify a solution. It is, of course, for members of UCU to decide how they vote in the ballot.’

As the University of Surrey Member of UUK, the VC here has not revealed his stance. If you would like more clarification on this issue, do please take the time to support your lecturers and write to him requesting this information. Your support would be much appreciated and it may help turn the tide on this dispute. UCU are of course hoping that negotiations will become more productive and no action will therefore be necessary. Your support could make all the difference.

Thank you

Surrey UCU Committee