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Ghost of Edward Boyle @ghostofeddiebo
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A long and possibly fruitless thread here on HEFCE’s 2007-2010 funding of 3 projects for the Employers Pension Forum. These were focused on developing a 10 year strategy for reform of pensions in the higher education sector #USSstrikes #NoCapitulation
Much of this is well-known, particularly the letter wrote by UCU Head of Higher Education, Michael MacNeil in summer 2010, to Alan Langlands (then Chief Exec at HEFCE) expressing concern about the one-sided nature of these EPF projects…
It was felt by UCU that these projects allowed the EPF to, amongst other things, develop a PR offensive which impacted upon the 2010 pension reform negotiations (resulting in the introduction of a career average pension scheme)…
Ancient history? It may be worth revisiting these projects. What was the 10 year plan developed by EPF (a body made up of UUK, UCEA and GuildHE) in 2010 for long-term pension reform? Do some VCs see current negotiations as the chance to push on with remaining elements of reform?
Unfortunately the reports/outcomes of these 3 HEFCE-funded projects are not available online. Below is a summary of what is known.
The HEFCE Leadership, Governance and Management Fund ran from 2004-2010. It funded 119 projects over its 7 year period, with funding totalling £14.5 million.
A list of the projects funded under the LGMF can be found under broad headings here:…
And an evaluation of the LGMF, conducted by PA Consulting for HEFCE in 2010 can be found in a PDF linked here. A full list of the projects available on p73:…
Three projects in particular looked at pension reform. A screenshot from page 73 of the evaluation is attached. One sought to develop an overall long-term strategy for pensions in HE. A second looked to set out detailed options. A third looked at implementation of the proposals
In total £627,000 of HEFCE funds between 2007-2010 was spent on these 3 projects. As noted above the UCU argued at the time that the funding allowed the EPF to develop a strong PR offensive before the 2010 pension negotiations between UUK and UCU…
A TImes Higher piece gives more detail in 2010 gives more detail. (behind paywall - key quotes summarised in next few tweets):…
The THES piece notes that project spending ‘was closely tied to the employers' side of the argument on USS reform, including a PR campaign mounted against the rival proposals submitted by the University and College Union’
The THES notes that the biggest 2010 project ‘which cost £334,000, included: £60,000 spent on an expert actuary who supported the EPF's stance; £15,000 on building a website; £16,000 on "communications"; £45,000 on legal advice; and £10,000 on room hire and catering.’
Michael MacNeil, UCU's head of HE, wrote to Alan Langlands, Hefce's CE in July 2010: "To my knowledge, the trade unions representing the views of the employees in the sector were not consulted or involved in the development of these (EPF) projects.’…
The Times Higher article in July 2010 goes on: ‘Mr MacNeil asks Sir Alan to advise whether "an application for funding for research on pensions from a trade union or unions would be received positively"’…
Does any of this really matter nearly 10 years on? The agenda around pension reform has shifted a lot since 2010 hasn’t it? Well, it would at least be useful to see the outcomes of these 3 projects - reports, summaries. None are available on HEFCE, UUK, UCEA or GuildHE websites
How much of this long-term reform planned by EPF back in 2010/11 has been achieved? Does the entrenched position of some VCs now - arguing that fundamental reform is essential - reflect the fact that they see an opportunity to push through more elements of this 10 year plan?
There are archived HEFCE web pages (through National Archives) which give summaries of each of the three projects. The page for Project 1 indicates there was a full report by Hewitt Associates...unfortunately this isn’t available…
Here are the National Archive links to the HEFCE webpages for the second project which looked at detailed scenarios for long-term reform of pensions in HE. Report not available…
And here is the link to the archived HEFCE page on the third project on developing and embedding a long-term strategy for pension reform. Again no report:…
If anyone has more detail on these three projects, PDFs of the final reports, or any insight about what these 2010 projects said about Defined benefits and the role of DB in a long-term pension strategy for the sector - please can you add comments here
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