University staff being balloted for strike action are paying far more for their pension, but will lose tens of thousands of pounds in retirement because of a series of detrimental changes made to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) since 2011.

According to modelling by First Actuarial, because of the changes to USS, a typical member will pay around £40,000 more in to their pension, but receive almost £200,000 less in retirement leaving them £240,000 worse off in total. That is compared to a hypothetical member who also joined in 2011 on the same conditions, but has not been affected by any of the changes brought in since then.

UCU is balloting over 52,000 USS members in 69 UK universities for strike action. That ballot opens on Monday 9 September. It will run at the same time a ballot over pay, equality, job security and workloads at 147 UK universities. Both ballots close on Wednesday 30 October.



Friday 28 June 2019

We also note the recent article in the Press & Journal relating to the leaked report about the student occupation and the subsequent investigation.  The branch has prepared the following statement which has been sent to the P&J:  

“The Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union challenges the content of the leaked report into a student occupation at the University of Aberdeen in March 2018 which formed the basis of an article published in the Press & Journal on 26th June 2019. The leaked report was based on a flawed investigation; its findings lack credibility and it was rejected by the University’s governing body.           

The Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union represents academic and academic-related staff at the University. Several of its members are among those who were and continue to be affected by the student occupation, particularly the unsubstantiated claim that a member was responsible for letting more protestors into the University office.

The Aberdeen branch of the University and College Union therefore calls for a full, independent, open and transparent enquiry into the events of the student occupation in March 2018 and into its ongoing impact on members of the University community. Such an inquiry, conducted by an independent body with the powers to gather all relevant evidence, is necessary in order to establish the facts. Only when the truth is known can the damage done to members of the University community, and to the reputation of the University of Aberdeen, begin to be addressed.”



Monday 24 June 2019

Aberdeen UCU welcome the Scottish Funding Council’s investigation. This investigation originated in an AUCU motion earlier this year, which called on UCU Scotland to lobby the Scottish government to ensure that its recommendations regarding fair and equitable exit arrangements are implemented across all Higher Education Institutions in Scotland.

Despite announcing his retirement plans in August 2017, Prof. Sir Ian Diamond waited until July 2018, when he actually stepped down from his post and was succeeded by a new Principal, before triggering his 12 month notice period formally, and drawing its associated payment of £282,000. During the intervening period, he had continued to receive his full salary and pension contributions, totalling £312,000.

Other significant costs were incurred at the same time: in August 2017, the then Senior Vice Principal (Prof. Jeremy Kilburn) transferred into an academic role, but with the promise that his generous six-figure salary as SVP would be maintained for the first two years, and a new SVP (Prof. Michael Greaves) was appointed, presumably at a similar salary.

All this occurred in the context of a financial position which the University claimed was so precarious as to necessitate the closure of its internationally renowned Religious Studies department, serious disruption of the University’s high-profile Scandinavian Studies program, and sudden departure of many members of academic staff, in the summer of 2018.

Aberdeen UCU are deeply concerned by the failures of governance involved in these decisions, and by the inappropriate priorities they reflect in a Higher Education Institution. We welcome the expression of the University’s willingness to cooperate with the investigation by Mrs. Esther Roberton, successor to the Senior Governor who oversaw the decisions (Mr. Martin Gilbert), and hope that the University’s response to the investigation’s findings will demonstrate that commitment to good governance and responsible financial dealings which is expected of a public sector employer with charitable status.


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