26 February 2018
I wanted to write to you on this first day of industrial action at our University.
I understand the very real concern that many of our staff and students have about the proposed future changes to the USS national pension scheme. As I explained at the open meetings, these future changes mean that the scheme would move from defined benefits (DB) to defined contributions (DC), although with the possibility being discussed of DB being reintroduced should economic and funding conditions improve. This is not a situation that I, or anyone else, would want. However, this is a national issue that needs a national solution, and one that is sustainable and affordable for both universities and individual staff, and is also acceptable to the USS Trustee and to the Pension Regulator. I welcome the further talks that have been announced tomorrow between Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU), and hope they are productive.
I realise that many of you are worried about the possible impact the industrial action might have on your education. We are working hard with staff to minimise any impact, and you should assume that all teaching and assessment will carry on at scheduled times in the usual way unless you are told otherwise. As I said in the open meetings, we guarantee that students will not be disadvantaged in relation to their assessments and examinations as a result of sessions being cancelled due to industrial action.
We have organised more open meetings for later this week for staff and students and will continue with open meetings on a weekly basis, or as required, where you can raise any questions that you may have. We also have a page of frequently asked questions, and there is more information on the USS and UUK websites.
Queen Mary University of London