Changes have been proposed to future benefits in USS, which have become the subject of industrial action by the UCU. Strike action called by the UCU is being held in February and March 2018.


During 2017 the USS underwent its triennial valuation — a legally required, detailed analysis of the the scheme's funding position.

The results indicated that the USS could expect lower rates of return and higher levels of risk, increasing the cost of the current level of benefits. This means that either:

  • more needs to be paid in to USS
  • the level of benefits needs to be amended

This decision needs to be taken in time for the USS to demonstrate to the Pensions Regulator in June 2018 that the scheme's deficit is being addressed.

Subsequently Universities UK (UUK, the representative organisation for the UK's universities) put forward proposals for future benefits in USS. The UCU submitted alternative proposals which were considered by the USS's Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC).

Current position

UUK's proposals were passed by the JNC in January 2018. The USS trustee is now planning a consultation with USS members that is likely to commence in mid-March.

The JNC recommended the UUK's proposals despite the opposition of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), who announced a programme of industrial action in protest at the proposed changes.

To help manage the impact of the action, the University has established an Academic Contingency Planning Group. This group, chaired by John Robinson, PVC for Teaching, Learning and Students, is working closely with academic and support departments to identify practical steps to minimise any disruption to our students.

On February 27 UCU and UUK announced that they had agreed to hold further talks with the involvement of ACAS. UUK have said the two sides had shown a willingness to work together to address the scheme's financial challenges. UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt has also said she was pleased that further talks had been agreed.

Message and FAQs for staff about participation in the UCU industrial action

Information for students can be found at

Information timeline