Responding to new analysis published by the University and College Union (UCU)
A Universities UK spokesperson said:
“Since 2011, the cost of providing defined benefit pensions has risen because people are living longer, and the economic environment has fundamentally changed. Scheme members will realise that winding the clock back to 2011 and freezing the scheme in time is just not credible.
“Compared with 2011, employers are now paying more than £400 million extra per annum into USS – having increased their contributions from 16% to 21.1% of salary from October 2019. This is far more than most other private pension schemes. This seems to be completely absent from the analysis.
“Crucially, members will keep their current benefits, which in monetary terms are more valuable than ever given the increased cost of providing pension promises.
“Two weeks ago UCU negotiators rejected an offer of lower member contributions; there is still time for the unions to consult their members on it.”
USS is one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and is the principal scheme for academic and comparable staff in UK universities and other higher education and research institutions.
Universities UK represents the views of 341 higher education employers on USS.
On 22 August 2019 the USS Joint Negotiating Committee decided to conclude the 2018 USS valuation with a total contribution rate of 30.7% of salary, with a member rate of 9.6% of salary, and an employer rate of 21.1%
This decision means that higher contributions increases scheduled for October 2019 and April 2020 under the 2017 valuation were avoided.
On 27 August 2019 UUK formally offered to pay an additional 0.5%, further reducing the member rate to 9.1% of salary for two years, if UCU agreed to withdraw the planned ballot for strike action on pensions.
Only 1 in 10 defined benefit schemes open to new members in 2006 are still open as of 2018.
Since 2012, the average defined benefit total contribution rate has increased by 25%.
The average USS pension payment in retirement is nearly three times the national average: £19,000 pa as opposed to £7,000 pa.