Marking boycott: why are academics protesting about pensions?

Why are academics holding a marking boycott?

On six November, academics at 69 universities will commence a marking boycott to protest towards proposed modifications to pensions. This could disrupt planned exams and mean that college students do not get marks for coursework or other assignments. The marking boycott will continue indefinitely, although representatives from the University and Schools Union (UCU) are due to meet with university employers to negotiate an alternative on 7 November.

This boycott will only get area at pre-1992 universities, newer institutions are not affected by the dispute since their pensions are held below a different scheme – the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme.

What’s taking place to university pensions?

Universities United kingdom (UUK) said earlier this month that the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the pension scheme for academics at pre-1992 universities is not sustainable. It has proposed:

Ending last salary arrangements. Rather, members would get a pension based on their regular occupation earnings – but only up to a threshold of £50,000. Employers would boost their contributions from sixteen% to 18%.
For those earning a lot more that £50,000, employers will contribute twelve% in direction of a defined contribution scheme. This indicates that the quantity members get will rely on the efficiency of investments. This alter will have an effect on the prime third of earners.
Staff will contribue 6.5%, irrespective of how considerably they earn. This will bring older members in line with individuals who joined the scheme after 2011.

UCU has opposed these proposals and contested the methodology employed to determine them.

How a lot of people do we count on to get component in the boycott?

Academics across 69 institutions are due to consider element – however it’s not clear how numerous will do so. When UCU balloted its members to see if they supported disruptive action, 78% voted in favour of a strike, although 87% voted for action brief of a strike, this kind of as a marking boycott.

Some 45% of members voted in the ballot, the highest turnout in a national higher education ballot considering that UCU was formed in 2006.

Why are pensions being reformed?

UUK say the USS pensions scheme for academics at pre-1992 universities is unaffordable. It points to an actuarial valuation carried out by the trustees of the USS in March – a method that weighed up the worth of the scheme’s assets against the amount required to spend pension rights previously accrued, discovering a £8bn shortfall. UUK also warns that this deficit is volatile.

If reforms are not introduced, then institutions would need to boost their contributions by 9 percentage factors to 25%, in accordance to the Employers Pensions Forum (EPF), which represents UUK and the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association on pension concerns. EPF estimates that this would price institutions £6m a year and would result in task cuts, pay out freezes and recruitment freezes.

But a lot of have argued that these figures really don’t stand up. UCU says that the £8bn deficit reported in March only supplies a snapshot of the scheme. It says that the methodology is misleading and doesn’t take into account the actual investments held by the scheme and the anticipated returns on these investments.

A collection of prominent statisticians have also stated that EPF has artificially inflated the deficit by assuming a buoyant economic system when predicting future salaries, but assuming a recession when predicting investment returns. The info that UUK has produced to clarify the scale of cuts to employees pensions has also been labelled misleading by the University of Oxford.

What about post-1992 universities?

Academics at newer universities will not be affected by this dispute because they are included in the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme, rather than USS – a scheme which is due to be reformed from April 2015.

Nonetheless, even when the reforms awaiting TPS are taken into account, personnel at newer universities could still get home nearly £20,000 a lot more a yr in retirement than colleagues at Russell Group institutions, in accordance to calculations by First Acturial, on behalf of UCU.

Who would be most affected by the proposed modifications to pension?

This depends on when they entered the USS and how significantly they earn. The proposal to end last salary arrangements would only concern members who joined the USS ahead of 2011 (the 49,000 individuals who joined following this date will have immediately entered a career average scheme). The introduction of the £50,000 earnings cap would affect the top third of earners.

Institutions taking component in the marking boycott:

University of Aberdeen
University of Aberystwyth
Aston University
Bangor University
University of Bath
University of Belfast
Queen’s University of Belfast
Birkbeck School, University of London
University of Birmingham
University of Bradford
University of Bristol
Brunel University
University of Cambridge
University of Cardiff
City University
Courtauld Institute
Cranfield University
University of Dundee
University of Durham
University of East Anglia
University of Edinburgh
University of Essex
University of Exeter
University of Glasgow
Goldsmiths School, University of London
Heriot-Watt University
University of Hull
Imperial College London

Institute of Education, University of London
Keele University
University of Kent
King’s College London
University of Lancaster
University of Leeds
University of Leicester
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
University of Liverpool
London College of Hygiene and Tropical
London School of Economics
Loughborough University
University of Manchester
Newcastle University
University of Nottingham
Open University
University of Oxford
Queen Mary, University of London
University of Studying
Royal Holloway, University of London
Royal Veterinary School
Ruskin University
University of Salford
College of Pharmacy, University of London
Scottish Association of Marine Science (academic spouse in the University of Highlands and Islands)
Senate Property, University of London
University of Sheffield
SOAS, University of London
University of Southampton
University of St Andrews
St George’s, University of London
The University of Stirling
University of Strathclyde
University of Surrey
University of Sussex
Swansea University
University of Ulster
University Campus Suffolk
University School London
University of Wales, Trinity St David
University of Warwick
University of York

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