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USS & TPS at-a-glance

This page provides information on the key features of USS and TPS, the two main pension schemes for higher education staff in the UK.


Teachers' Pension Scheme

Universities Superannuation Scheme

Pensionable salary

Final year's salary, or the best three consecutive years in the last ten years enhanced by price increases and averaged, or the hypothetical award where there has been a break in service; the best one is paid to the member 

Highest (according to rise in retail prices) salary over the last three years, or highest revalued salary over any three consecutive years within the last 13 years

Children's allowances following death of member

One child: half of a widow(er)'s pension; if there is no adult dependant then more can be paid. 

Two children or more: equal to widow(er)'s pension.

One child: 3/8 of pension the member would have received at age 65.

Two children or more: 3/4 of pension the member would have received at age 65.

Increased to 1/2 and full if no adult dependant's pension in payment.


Widow(er), civil partner or nominated partner, child(ren) under age 17 unless in full-time education up to 23 years of age or dependent relative.

Widow(er), civil partner, nominated partner or dependent relative.

Employee and employer contributions

Employee 6.4%

Employer 14.1%

Employee 6.35%; additional 1% if joining over age 60

Employer 14%

Contributions (maximum)

In TP the maximum contributions are 45 years.

In USS the maximum contributions are 45 years, but when a member reaches 40 years of contribution, or when a member reaches age 65 years both, the employer and employee can cease to contribute.



Funded and invested

Ill-health benefits

Permanency criterion and if successful then total or partial incapacity awarded. Total incapacity (TIB) gives an enhancement of 1/2 year service for every year short of the normal pension age on top of the accrued pension; partial incapacity benefit is access to your accrued pension.

Total or partial incapacity criterion. If total awarded unreduced pension and lump sum based on the amount of pensionable service the member would have completed by 65th birthday. For partial unreduced benefits based on accrued service to date of retirement.

Injury benefits



In-service death grant

3 x pensionable full-time salary

3 x pensionable pay

Membership: Institutions

Post-1992 institutions, further education colleges and schools.

Pre-1992 universities, associated companies, a number of post-1992 institutions for limited categories.

Membership: Employees

All teaching staff.

Available to all staff on designation by the employer.

Normal retirement age

60 for existing members.

New entrants after January 2007 into the scheme have a pension age of 65 years.

Existing members with breaks of more than five years from the scheme or members who on their return do not meet the criteria of 60 pensionable days service or 30 days service in the first year, have their future service tied to a pension age of 65 years.


Retirement pension

1/80 x pensionable salary for each year of service, but subject to actuarial reduction in some cases of early retirement.

New scheme members are in a 1/60 scheme. 

1/80 x pensionable salary for each year of service, but subject to actuarial reduction in some cases of early retirement

Retirement lump sum

3 x pension, can enlarge the lump sum up to 25% of the pension pot on 1:12 ratio of annual pension. New scheme members have no lump sum but can exchange up to 25% of their pension pot for a lump sum on the basis of 1:12.

3 x pension as above unless reduced to increase pension or increased by commutation in terminal ill-health retirements or enhanced from annual pension.

Adult dependant's benefit on death in-service

If married or civil partner or nominated for death grant, 3 x a final average salary, plus three months short-term payment of wages prior to the long-term pension of 1/160 of pensionable salary for each year covered by family service, payable for life.

1/2 the pension that would have been received had the member stayed in the scheme until 65, payable for life as of right.

Adult dependant's and children's pensions on death of pensioner

Long-term pension as above

As for death in-service but based on pension payable (ignoring any increase for sacrifice of lump sum or decrease for commutation), not on what would have been payable at age 65

Salary sacrifice-

USS allows salary sacrifice on pension contributions, this requires a contractual change and needs to be negotiated by UCU and agreed by the local branch members.

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