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Pension cuts prompt fears of two-tier pensions for Scottish universities

9 October 2014

Scottish universities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh would be offering pension deals worth thousands of pounds less per year than local rivals such as Glasgow Caledonian or Edinburgh Napier universities if radical proposals for academic pensions are forced through, warns new analysis released today.

Similarly, the University of Aberdeen would be offering pension deals worth thousands of pounds less than Robert Gordon University and academics at the University of Dundee would be far worse off in retirement than their colleagues at Abertay University.
The analysis by UCU Scotland reveals staff at some of the UK's oldest universities will have pensions up to 36% worse than their colleagues at other universities. Staff at so called 'new' universities in Scotland who are members of the Scottish Teachers' Superannuation Scheme (STSS) would take home as much as almost £20,000 more a year in retirement than colleagues at Russell Group institutions and the older universities in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).
UCU is balloting members in nine universities* in Scotland  for industrial action to oppose the changes. The ballot opened last Wednesday (1 October) and closes on Monday 20 October. UCU said it will be asking members to back plans for a marking boycott and to refuse to set exams. The action would stop students being set coursework or receiving formal marks and feedback, as well as halting exams.
UCU Scotland Official Mary Senior, said: 'The Russell Group of universities and other self-described elite institutions often boast about being the leading lights of the Scottish and UK higher education sector. However, if these radical changes are forced through they will be bottom of the table for staff pensions.
'Once prospective staff know that some of our most famous universities offer pensions up to 36% lower than the new universities there will be real concerns about recruitment and retention of the brightest talent.'

*UCU is balloting members in 8 universities plus the Scottish Association for Marine Science (an academic partner in the University of Highlands and Islands).

Career profile

Current annual USS pension

Pension under new proposals

STSS equivalent

Annual difference between current USS pension and STSS

Annual difference between new USS scheme and STSS

Age 40, joined scheme at 25, retires at 68 on salary of £45,954






Lecturer started later:
Age 51, joined scheme at 36, retires at 68, final salary of £45,954






Senior (snr) lecturer:
Age 40, joined scheme at 25, retires at 68 on salary of £54,841






Snr lecturer started later:
Age 50, joined scheme at 35, retires at 67 on salary of £54,841






Age 40, joined scheme at 25, retires at 66 on salary of £75,000






Last updated: 18 November 2019