University of Aberdeen criticises pension changes as assessment boycott hits home

7 November 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

The University of Aberdeen has joined a growing list of UK universities to criticise damaging plans put forward by the employers' organisation, Universities UK, to change the pension scheme for academic and related staff at nine Scottish universities.

In a letter from the university to UCU a key proposal put forward by the employers is not backed because the university states that they haven't seen 'sufficient evidence' to justify the damaging change. Specifically, the university said it hasn't seen grounds to allow it to support the proposal to introduce a limit to a defined contribution scheme and that even if a limit were to be introduced it should be above what is being proposed. The letter also indicates that, in their view, there may be scope to make efficiencies within the operational costs and overheads of the pension scheme rather than all difficult choices with regard to the scheme's deficit falling on staff. Additionally, in the letter's final paragraphs the university concludes that their own view 'correlates to a significant extent' with that of the union.
 
UCU members across Scotland in affected universities began an indefinite assessment boycott this week. The action, which follows a record turnout by members in the preceding ballot, means that UCU members have stopped marking work, returning marks or setting exams and coursework.
 
UCU Scotland Official, Mary Senior, said: 'Aberdeen University have joined a growing band of universities in criticising Universities UK's damaging plans to take thousands of pounds out of our members' pensions. With universities themselves questioning what is going on and the union remaining committed to reaching a sustainable and agreed outcome to the dispute it is time Universities UK listened to all sides and negotiated a solution.'

Other universities who have criticised Universities UK's proposed changes to the pension scheme include the University of Warwick, Oxford University, Cambridge University and Imperial College London.
 
The Scottish universities where UCU members are currently engaged in an assessment boycott are: the University of Aberdeen, the University of Dundee, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Association of Marine Science (an academic partner in the University of Highlands and Islands), the University of St Andrews, the University of Stirling, and the University of Strathclyde.

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