Update on the transfer of USS employer representative responsibilities from Universities UK to UCEA

1 Mar 2024

The USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC), which consists of five representatives from the University and College Union (UCU) and five representatives from Universities UK (UUK), and an independent Chair, reflects the views to the USS Trustee on behalf of both the scheme members and employers and decides on any changes to the pension scheme. 

At its meeting on 1 March 2024, the JNC decided on the rule changes necessary for the transfer of employer representative role from UUK to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA).  

Employers have been carefully considering and working on this potential transfer since the publication of the report by the Joint Expert Panel (JEP), which was jointly commissioned by UUK and the UCU in 2018. JEP was clear that it is usually the case that pay and pensions are determined by the same body, and that this could provide a more logical structure of responsibilities within the sector. 

Following five years of extensive engagement with employers and stakeholders, including USS and UCU, the proposed transfer has been ratified by the Boards of UUK and UCEA. This is backed by a sustainable funding model, and the JNC decision on 1 March means that the USS Trustee will be asked to support a USS rule change to allow the transfer to be concluded during the summer of 2024.  

Now that the formal work for the 2023 valuation is essentially complete, UUK and UCEA believe this is the right time to progress the transfer of responsibility. The outcome of the 2023 valuation has been finalised meaning improvements to scheme benefits, and the one-off uplift to benefits earned between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2024, will come into effect from 1 April 2024. 

The transfer will not affect progress on other current projects developing lower-cost and flexible options for members, conditional indexation, stability, and the governance review. UUK staff in the USS Employers pensions team, currently employed by UUK, will transfer to UCEA along with the USS Employers brand and website. The transfer will be on a like-for-like basis with no new powers or responsibilities proposed for UCEA.