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etymologic @etymologic
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Who is behind the drive to end the Defined-Benefit #USS pension scheme?
A key figure is Prof Koen Lamberts, VC of University of York, and Chair of the Employers Pension Forum (EPF).
Join me on a rambling thread 👇.
The EPF was set up by three bodies which share Woburn House in London: UniversitiesUK (UUK), the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) and GuildHE. It shares an office & press officer with these bodies.
The UCEA is (I'm sure) behind hard-line HR advice on ASOS pay deductions at e.g. University of Leeds.
Theme 3 of UCEA's work in 2016-17 & 17-18 was " Seeking and supporting movement towards sustainable solutions in HE employers' pensions provision"…
Note "movement towards". It is clear to me that UUK & UCEA are not merely a representative "voice of universities", but instead advocate for change. They have built an artifical consensus within a bubble with VCs, Consultants, & politicos. They exclude ordinary academics &staff.
In March 2017, #USS reported that its assets had GROWN by *20%* that financial year. Good news, you might think? But ... uh-oh ... a technical deficit had also grown. This deficit strongly correlates with gilt returns, which are at historic lows.
This technical deficit is HIGHLY volatile. If interest rates rise, it may quickly disappear. According to the Telegraph, final salary deficits HALVED in one month alone in 2018:…
Clearly, the technical deficit in a single valuation is just one factor in play. The out-performance in growth of #USS is another. Now which would the EPF chair choose to dwell upon? Let's see ...
Here is Prof Koen Lamberts, Chair of EPF, writing in August 2017 on "Addressing the University pension fund deficit"…
He writes: "The deficit is £12.6bn ... so doing nothing is not an option" without explaining how the deficit is calculated.

(Or is the deficit 7bn, or 17bn? I've lost track).

Prof L does not mention the 20% annual growth in USS assets. Doing nothing is a legitimate option, IMO.
Later "The EPF today publishes a report which puts forward a set of guiding principles describing University priorities for the future."

Surely it is NOT for the EPF to set forward guiding principles describing University priorities??

The report is here "Suitability and sustainability: pensions in HE sector":…
Koen Lamberts talks of "flexibility" and "control". But we are savvy enough now to know what this means for employees ...
Prof Koen Lamberts also makes one very misleading statement, highlighted here:
There are not "350 Universities and HE bodies" sponsoring the #USS scheme. There are about 66 pre-92 universities, the major #USS employees. Then, there are LOTS of minnows, some with just one or two #USS employees.
By my reckoning, there are about ~175 such minnows in the #USS scheme (the 7000s under the #USS classification). These include: Cambridge Dental Practice Ltd, Equality Challenge Unit, Oxford Uniy Endowment Management, Chariot Innovations Ltd, Nuinto Ltd, Langford Vet Services Ltd
I could go on and on. No offence to these minnows. But Prof Lamberts should not be calling these "Higher Education Bodies". Because most of them are not. They just have a small number of #USS employees from transfers from pre-92 unis.
Prof Lamberts should be well aware of this, as by my count he is on the board of *FIVE* #USS employers, namely University of York, Yorkshire Universities, Russell Group, UCEA and UUK itself.
Here is the membership of the Employers Pension Forum, as it stood in Jan 2017:
Lots of Finance and HR on this list, not so many academics. There is only one other VC here, Prof Sir Ian Diamond, of Aberdeen, and he has come to a quite different opinion to the EPF Chair, Prof Lamberts ...
Here is an excerpt from Prof Diamond's joint statement with @aberdeen_ucu from 21st Feb 2018.

If Prof Diamond, rather than Prof Lamberts, were in the chair of the EPF, I think this dispute would have had a speedy resolution.
ENDS. (If I have time for more research I'll add to this thread later).
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