Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #UUK

Most recents (24)

For all of us grappling with what's happening in UK HE – gasping to keep our heads above water & struggling to understand all the actors & forces at work – I so so recommend @amcgettigan's "The Great University Gamble: Money, markets & the future of HE" plutobooks.com/9780745332932/… 1/
”The Great University Gamble” is centred around privatisation of HE — the “plan & the gamble” — as McGettigan frames it — & published in 2013. It covers creation of HE market; deregulation & deprofessionalization; university financing (incl bonds); private equity; governance 2/ Screenshot of contents page of book
Re-reading it post #USSstrike, I am struck by how McGettigan identifies the cleavage (evident from at least 2010 and possibly well before) btw #UUK/mission groups & the interests of academics, students, & public in general 3/
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And as if like clockwork, an intervention from The Pensions Regulator -- we assume circulated to employers also, since it's been made public by UCU -- at a critical moment in the #USS dispute. Are we in 2018 or 2017? 1/
Remember TPR's ltr to Eastwood (Sept 17)

And #JEP later said: "It appears to the Panel that the Regulator's influence has been disproportionate. Some of those giving evidence... have suggested that the Regulator's views have steered employers' decisions." academicfreedom.watch/sites/default/… screen shot of first page of ltr linked to in text
(It's at this point that @acupunctureUSS realised he needed to help out with this thread, gifs not being my strong suit) #GroundHogDay #USSstrike #2018or2017 #aesthetic)
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So: #USS is undertaking a new valuation (of funding position in March 2018). 1/ #USSstrike
Bill Galvin, #USS CEO, implicitly puts onus on #UUK for problems of 2017 valuation, stating that employers had given a "very clear view" to USS to "take less risk than was laid out in its [USS's] original proposals" uss.co.uk/how-uss-is-run… 2/ screen shot of part of document linked to in tweet
There is clearly dispute between #USS and #UUK over this: the #JEP, we should remember, said that it had 'not taken a view' on the differing perspectives of #UUK and #USS over the shift from the Sept to Nov TPs & valuation assumptions ussjep.org.uk/files/2018/09/… 3/ screen shot of p. 45 of document linked to in tweet
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UPDATE on 2017 #USS valuation.

Universities UK has told me:
“Employers support the JEP’s recommendations, subject to acceptance from the USS Trustee and The Pensions Regulator, and to further information for employers on risk and its implications.”

1/
#UUK: ”We look forward to discussions with UCU, and with the USS Trustee, over the coming weeks as we seek a jointly agreed solution.”
2/2
#UUK has further clarified that employers support “all of the recommendations put forward by the panel” – subject to the conditions outlined in earlier tweeted statement.
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*** ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE A #USS PENSION ***
#USS consultation ends TOMORROW 5pm. So important to convey to #USS & employers how you feel abt 2017 valuation. We at @USSbriefs have a template. Responding takes 5 mins #USSbriefs61 #ResileAndResubmit medium.com/ussbriefs/resi… 1/
(Re)read #USSbriefs59 on how @Sam_Marsh101's findings not only make a mockery of #USS valuation, but raise profound questions in relation to #USS & #UUK governance medium.com/ussbriefs/ther… 2/
And read @NJSHardy's v short thread on why employers' reflections on risk appetite in their responses to JEP are meaningless given they're based on Test 1 3/
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Unis in Brazil already subject to vicious police raids www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/…

CEU being forced out of Hungary #IstandwithCEU

And at this historical moment, we have, as the so-called 'voice' of UK unis, the institution that is @UniversitiesUK
#YesUniCan🤬
On which note, check out this U Liverpool doc (VC = Janet Beer, #UUK Prez) assessing risks & benefits of establishing a "Branch Campus" in Egypt under Sisi

Benefits: *GREAT MARKET OPPORTUNITIES*
Risks: potentially to institutional reputation (sad face)
academicfreedom.watch/sites/default/… screen shot from doc linked to in tweet
We await with interest #UUK's feelings about the potential "market opportunities" under a fascist Bolsonaro Brazil.

Meanwhile, so much solidarity & sorrow & rage for all those suffering, fighting in Brazil. I have barely been able to speak, because of the horror, today ✊🏾✊🏿✊🏽
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Huh, there appears to be tussle btw #UUK & #USS over how to narrate shift from Sept to Nov valuation (& whose fault it is). I had inkling abt this yesterday after one of @JosephineCumbo'sthreads conveying #USS's 3 responses to @Sam_Marsh101's findings (medium.com/ussbriefs/a-fl…) 1/
#USS, via @JosephineCumbo, tries to shift focus on to employers by saying Sam's analysis "ignores the need for the scheme to attain a position within the risk appetite of sponsoring employers, and the time required to make such adjustments" 2/
And then look at #JEP p.45 :

A classic case of "A said B did it, but B said A did it" – & we as JEP are flagging this up & couldn't possibly say whether it was A or B.

▶️ #USS and #UUK fighting over who's responsible for shift to Nov valuation? ussjep.org.uk/files/2018/09/… 3/ excerpt from p. 45 of JEP referred to in the link in the tweet
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#UUK September 2017 survey followers: another "want less risk" submission has been found!

OCR, the examination board (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA Examinations) – which is part of Cambridge University 1/
whatdotheyknow.com/request/520035…
You can see from the Cambridge University Pensions Working Group minutes (e.g. whatdotheyknow.com/request/508692…) that Cambridge University's response informs OCR's – as well as the Colleges' – responses. 2/ Excerpt from minutes that makes clear that OCR will use the University's response
You can see that Cambridge University's response has informed OCR's response in the other responses to UUK/USS consultations, too, i.e. the Oct 2016 survey whatdotheyknow.com/request/520035… and the March 2017 USS consultation whatdotheyknow.com/request/520035… 3/
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The sentence "#UUK & the #UCU have since agreed to explore risk-sharing alternatives from 2020, w a particular focus on a #CDC arrangement" pensions-expert.com/Law-Regulation… is particularly interesting, given CDC was not in ACAS agreement (simply discussion on 'alternative scheme designs')
A salutary quotation published today emphasising how easy it is to misconstrue #CDC (collective defined contribution) pensions as DB (NB In #CDC, risk is ALL on the employees): pensionsage.com/pa/CDC-will-be… screen shot with excerpt from article -- about CDC pensions
See also my reflections on #CDC back in July. The more that CDC (currently not possible in UK) is invoked – by various people – as a possible future for #USS, the more that potentiality becomes real. This we must resist. #USSstrike
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There's a bonanza of new FOI responses that give us a much better sense of the range of university responses to #UUK #USS consultations from Oct 2016 and Feb/March 2017. Picking through them it's fascinating to see which universities challenged the direction of travel 1/
e.g. Aberdeen: "Aon ... & UCU have indicated that it may be advantageous to consider other models. We are interested in the Trustees views as to whether there are alternative models that could result in a more considered outcome" whatdotheyknow.com/request/508696… cc @aberdeen_ucu 2/
e.g. LSE: "We note that the latest benefit changes were implemented less than 12 months ago. The School’s view is that it is too soon for further changes to be made." whatdotheyknow.com/request/509128… 3/
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2. #JEP has a lot to say about Test 1. Its sentence 'The view of the Panel is that Test 1 is not well understood outside of USS' is ... well ... certainly marvellously diplomatic.

Cf. and 6/
3. #JEP's discussion of #USS's & #UUK's 'differing perspectives' on the shift from Sept to Nov valuation shows just how murky the deliberations that resulted in this shift still are.

This remains a big issue, given #JEP proposal to reassess employers' atttude to risk (p. 45) 7/ Extract from p. 45 of JEP report
4. #JEP agrees w many of us that UUK's 'framing' of questions around risk in their consultations has serious consequences.

How can we be confident that any future assessment of employers' risk appetite by UUK shows an improvement in their use of social scientific methods? 🧐 8/
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After a few weeks away from Twitter, I'm back to think – alongside many others – about content & rhetoric of the #JEP.

And abt what we at @USSbriefs have been doing all summer w @OpenUPP2018 to encourage deliberations over #USS valuation to take place in public #USSstrike 1/
Many (incl. @NJSHardy @gailfdavies @DrJoGrady @etymologic @MikeOtsuka) have already provided cogent analyses of the #JEP report & its implications. So here I'll just going to pick out some of what has struck me most forcefully on a first read. #USSstrike 2/
1. There's a judicious use of rhetoric – particularly around 'confidence', '(mis)understanding' & 'communication'. This cleaves closely to that used by #UUK & Bill Galvin – whether that is deliberately so as to increase likelihood of acceptance by those parties, you can decide 3/
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Reading fhrough the Joint Expert Panel report and it is quite bruising for the #USS, #UUK and Pensions Regulator.

Key comments from the Executive Summary of the JEP report to follow:
Firstly, on the Trustees’ use of 3 tests to help assess contribution affordability. The Panel thought the Trustees gave “too much weight” to “Test 1” which was not being used as a “stop and check” reference point but “constraint” on benefit design and investment strategy. 1/
The Panel said that “insufficient weight” was given to the fact that USS was a large, open scheme that was cash flow positive. The “strength and diversity” of the HE sector appeared not to have been taken into account “in some areas”. 2/
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BREAKING: #USS Joint Expert Panel, reviewing 2017 #USS valuation, has published its report.

Summary of key recommendations to follow:
The Panel looked in detail at the methodology, assumptions and tests employed by the Trustee, and particularly at USS’s ‘Test 1’ which underpins the 2017 valuation.

"In the Panel’s view this test has assumed too much weight in determining the valuation."

2/
The Panel unanimously recommended 4 areas where adjustments to the 2017 valuation should be considered:

1. A re-evaluation of the employers’ attitude to risk, which would result in a re-evaluation of the reliance on the sponsor covenant.

3/
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I've been catching up w latest on CDC pensions after yesterday's report from Work & Pensions Cttee parliament.uk/business/commi… #USSstrike

TL;dr: I predict even more enthusiasm from UUK about CDC in coming months as part of long-term plan to remove DB to reduce pension liabilities 1/
REMINDER: Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) pensions share risk *between* the members of the scheme. CDC means that employers are not exposed to the risks associated with DB plans. i.e. Risk is transferred from employer ---> employees ft.com/content/64ae04… 2/
The 16 July report from Work & Pensions Cttee gave enthusiastic thumbs up to enabling CDC for Royal Mail "in a way which will allow other companies to follow suit". Report speaks of a "new wave of collective pensions in the UK" publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cm… 3/
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I've been reading up on the 3 UUK nominees for the UUK–UCU Joint Expert Panel: Ronnie Bowie, Sally Bridgeland, and Chris Curry ipe.com/countries/uk/u… #USSStrike 1/
Let's start with Ronnie Bowie, Partner at Hymans Robertson, who 'works as a Scheme Actuary & Investment Adviser to a number of large private & public sector schemes and has built a reputation as a respected expert witness' hymans.co.uk/people-finder/…
I've been going back to 10 or so years, looking at how actuarial science is discussed before and after the 2008 economic crisis. I am outsider to the field – approaching it as someone who researches recent histories & geographies of various human sciences
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In the end I voted no. I didn’t have confidence in #UUK to rebuild trust on its own terms. I didn’t feel able to vote for a panel whose terms of reference were not laid down in advance. I didn’t think these were unreasonable demands then.
I don’t think they are unreasonable demands now. However, it is clear how much vigilance will be required on how #UUK will seek to shape process. But it is not clear to me now who will provide this and how it will happen.
Having put this to the ballot I want @ucu to now tell us the key processes, roles and points at which we as branches, #uss members, and university employees will be able to shape next stages in #ucustrike. But I am not confident here either.
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Unhappy about proposed #USS pension cut?

Not convinced current #UUK offer protects you from significant & long term pension cuts. What if I told you that it's not the only cut your #USS pension has experienced 👇👇👇 #USSstrikes
Cut 1: Employer pension contribution holidays

Between 1983-1997, employers cut their contributions from 18.55% to 14%, resulting in an estimated £7 billion being lost from the value of the fund.
Cut 2: Closure of USS as a final salary (FS) scheme

By closing FS scheme in 2015, & moving members into a lower value DB scheme, it is estimated the value of a #USS pension was cut by 20% on average.
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I have asked #UUK if the March 12 ACAS proposal for #USS valuation, which was rejected by #UCU members, remains on the table.

Headline terms of this offer: £42K salary threshold for DB, 1/85th accrual and 2.5% inflation and revaluation cap.

Response to follow:
#UUK

"Discussions on benefit reform remain paused while we await the UCU response to the convening of a Joint Expert Panel.

We are committed to maintaining a meaningful DB element within any new proposal."

2/
I have gone back to #UUK on this reply as it hasn't quite provided the clarity needed on employers' position.
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Q: If the expert panel cannot reach agreement, what do employers understand will be the fallback position on the valuation?

A: The valuation is the responsibility of the USS Trustee (h/t @JosephineCumbo) 1/
The USS trustee board 'delegates day to day responsibility for the mgmt of the scheme to the group executive' (h/t @CathyJenkins101). The group executive comprises the following uss.co.uk/how-uss-is-run… 2/ screen shot of web link showing list of names in group executive
.@JosephineCumbo has just responded saying: "I have asked #USS what its fallback position is if the panel cannot reach agreement. Am awaiting a response."
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#UUK has responded to further questions on the #USS proposal made to #UCU Friday 23/12.

Questions and answers to follow

1/
Q: Has UUK undertaken to remove Jan23 JNC decision completely from the table?
A: As part of the jointly developed proposal agreed at Acas on 12March UUK pledged not to take forward the Jan23 JNC decision & suspended member consultation on it. This commitment remains in place
2/
Q: Is #USS bound to accept the recommendation of the joint expert panel?

A: Under legislation it is the trustee’s role to determine the scheme’s technical provisions therefore the USS Trustee cannot be bound by the findings of the Joint Expert Panel.

3/
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What would happen if #UUK was disbanded (or University leaders all withdrew their membership of it) - other than huge cost savings for universities. Just think how many students' tuition fees it takes to pay their staff's salaries. *ponders* #USSstrike #nocapitulation #UCU
UUK income from membership 2017; £7.4 million (p27 of annual report)
UUK Salary costs in financial year 2017: £5.7 million (p30), inc 140-150k for one employee, presumably chief exec. Full report: universitiesuk.ac.uk/about/Document…
#USSstrike #nocapitulation @ucu #ucu @VianBakir1
UUK has ~100 members, so a rough average is £74,000 per member university. Which is 8.2 student years per university (assuming 9k/yr/student). I can think of better ways of spending that money #USSstrike #nocapitulation @ucu #ucu @VianBakir1
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I'm worried about the future of my employer, @OpenUniversity, under its Vice-Chancellor, @PeterHorrocks.

Part one of a series of posts explaining why I think there's about to be another crisis in UK HE. 1/x
The most important alarm bell: HoC Education SC, Feb 21st 2018, @PeterHorrocks answers a question about his salary, justifying it thus: "We are going to have to carry out the largest restructuring redundancy programme ever in UK university history" 2/x
parliament.uk/business/commi…
This announcement by @PeterHorrocks didn't surprise me (though the salary context did) because he'd already said to the Guardian in Nov 2017 that he was planning "many, many hundreds of job losses in the university". 3/x
theguardian.com/higher-educati…
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This looks like good news from @TPRgovuk, opening the door to a #USS deal on the basis of the Sept 2017 valuation involved in the initial @UCU recovery plan, if only the remaining hold-out VCs will accept this. 1/x
But we should in any case beware one kind of mistake which comes from treating @TPRgovuk as some unmovable exogenous constraint on a #USS deal. (1) The #tPR view itself is in part a function of VC’s avowed positions on risk levels. 2/x
And, (2) as @AdamJTucker has pointed out, there is a good degree of flexibility in how @TPRgovuk operates, and its regulatory framework allows space for appropriate intervention from the government. See embedded thread:



3/x
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