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Universities: Staff

Question for Department for Education

UIN 154262, tabled on 14 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions his Department has held with the University and College Union about grievances of university staff relating to pensions, pay and working conditions.

Answered on

25 April 2022

Higher education providers are autonomous and responsible for the pay and pension provision of their staff.

While the government has no direct role in the disputes, we have been clear that we want this disagreement resolved in a way that avoids further disrupting students’ learning. We strongly encourage a resolution that delivers good value for students, staff, and providers.

The Pensions Regulator is currently working with the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), Universities UK and a range of other stakeholders as they work to find a long-term solution to the funding challenges faced by the USS.

The USS is a private pension scheme. It has more than 450,000 members, and sizable assets and liabilities. USS is one of the largest private pension schemes in the country, with assets worth over £80 billion in December 2020.

The Office for Students (OfS) has wide-ranging powers to ensure students’ interests are protected, and they expect providers to do all they can to avoid disruption to students. The OfS has written to universities to make their expectations clear: universities must abide by the conditions of registration and ensure they meet obligations under consumer protection law in relation to the impact of industrial action.