Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Latest update

There is a full list of communications about USS online.  

22 May 2019

As you may be aware, following consideration of Universities UK consultation response on the 2018 valuation, the USS Trustee has set out three possible options for concluding the 2018 valuation. These options have an impact on how much you as a member, as well as the University, will pay into the scheme.

The USS Trustee presented these options to employers on 9 May 2019, with the consultation ending on 30 May. We will be submitting a full response by 30 May, however, in addition to this, the USS Trustee asked employers to give an indication of which option they would prefer to support by 16 May so these early responses could be taken into account during discussions between the USS Trustee and the University College Union (UCU). In our initial response, we indicated that we would prefer to support option 3. Earlier today, UUK also published a short statement confirming the indicative preference received from a significant number of employers was also to further explore option 3 as a potential route to concluding the 2018 valuation.

So we can share further information with you about the three options under consultation and our initial thinking behind preferring option 3, as well as giving you the chance to ask any questions you may have, we’ve arranged a number of drop-in sessions. The dates and times of these sessions, including the details of any video-links are listed below:

Date Time Room
29/05/2019 12.30-13.30 Streatham Court C – Andrew Connolly presenting
29/05/2019 12.30-13.30 Tremough House meeting room, Penryn Campus (video link)
29/05/2019 12.30-13.30 3:16 RILD building, Barrack Road, Exeter (video link)
4/06/2019 15.00-16.00 South Cloisters 3.06 St Luke’s Campus – Andrew Connolly presenting
4/06/2019 15.00-16.00 Newman Collaborative LT (video link)
4/06/2019 15.00-16.00 Peter Lanyon seminar 4, Penryn (video link)
13/06/2019 12.30-13.30 Peter Lanyon seminar 4, Penryn Campus – Andrew Connolly presenting
13/06/2019 12.30-13.30 F083 Knowledge Spa, Truro Campus (video link)
13/06/2019 12.30-13.30 South cloisters 3.06, St Luke’s Campus (video link)


20 March 2019 

2018 Valuation consultation responses 

The new 2018 USS valuation has now commenced, embracing most but not all of the recommendations in the JEP report. USS consulted with employers via UUK about it, and you can now read Exeter response to UUK's USS 2018 valuation consultation, and the UUK response

It is anticipated that this new valuation will result in an alternative set of more affordable proposals to replace the increases in contributions currently scheduled for October 2019 and April 2020.  In order for this to happen the new valuation would need to be agreed and finalised by employer representatives (UUK), member representatives (UCU) and the Pensions Regulator by June 2019.


Weekly Bulletin update 18 March 2019

USS pension contribution changes are coming soon

USS members should have received a letter that explains changes that begin on 1 April. The amount members and employers pay in will increase – members will pay 8.8% of their salary and the University contribution will be 19.5%. There is more information on this on the USS website, including a link to a table to work out the potential impact on take-home pay. If members have signed up for the 1% additional match element to the scheme, employers will stop making their match contributions from April with the March payday being the last matched payment. You can keep on building your USS Investment Builder pot or you can cancel the match at any time via your member page on the USS website. USS are holding a webinar hosted by their executive team on 22 March at 2.30pm about recent developments and the 2018 valuation, including questions from the audience. Register online.

Key points

Summary of changes to USS

1. USS is a national pension scheme for academic and senior professional services staff in pre-1992 Universities. The scheme is managed by an independent trustee board in accordance with the requirements of pensions legislation and the Pensions Regulator and in consultation with Universities UK (representing employers) and the University and College Union (representing scheme members).

2. Despite changes to the scheme in 2011 and 2016 to address significant funding challenges, the deficit is expected to increase from £5.3 billion (at the March 2014 valuation) to £7.5 billion at March 2017. 

3. Universities believe changes are necessary to address USS’ significant funding challenges and put the scheme on a sustainable footing for the long-term, while continuing to offer attractive pensions to staff, now and in the future, and ensuring that contributions remain affordable to both staff and employers.

4. Over the last year, there have been more than 45 meetings at national level between UUK and UCU to discuss these funding challenges. 

5. A Joint Expert Panel, with panel members nominated in equal numbers by Universities UK and UCU, will be formed to review the basis of, and agree key principles for, the valuation of USS. To allow their work to happen, there will be no change to the current contributions or pension benefits of USS until at least April 2019.

6. Any changes will only affect benefits earned after the implementation date, as benefits already accrued are protected by law and cannot be changed retrospectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read the list of Frequently Asked Questions about changes to USS including explanations of terminology - these were updated in August 2018. 

A new set of FAQs relating to September 2018’s cost-sharing consultation is here

If your question relates to industrial action please go to industrial action.

USS scheme: current overview

The information below summarises the current benefit arrangements for members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme – commonly known as USS. These are expected to change from April 2019. 

Staff on Grades E and above are eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme – commonly known as USS.

The Contract of Employment you will be offered before you join the University of Exeter will contain brief details regarding your pension scheme. Importantly, your contract will inform that you will automatically be put into the pension scheme unless you opt not to join. If you do not wish to be a member of the pension scheme, you must contact the Payroll and HR Administration Office in People Services immediately for a USS “Opt Out” form to prevent any deductions being made from your salary. The form will need to be completed and returned to the Pay and Benefits Office before the cut off day for payroll.

New to USS

If you are about to join, or have just joined, there are a some things you should think about straight away:

  • Complete the death benefit nomination forms
  • Expression of Wish – Everyone should complete this to let USS know where any lump sum should be paid in the event of your death.
  • Registration of Potential dependant – Only complete this form if you are not married nor part of a civil partnership. This form is used to notify USS of a financial dependant who might qualify to receive the equivalent of the spouse’s pension on your death.
  • Been in USS before – if you have previous membership of USS please let us know, especially if you have just joined us from another institution. This way we can make sure that your USS records are maintained and ensure that the correct rate of employee contribution are taken from your pay. It is especially important if you were paying Additional Voluntary Contributions at your previous post as these will need to be carried on being deducted from your pay at this institution.

Information on the benefits provided by USS including information for members, prospective members as well as deferred and retired members and any forms that are required can be found on the USS website

Pension input period for USS

USS have issued an announcement to scheme members regarding the pension input period for the purpose of calculating the Annual Allowance for tax purposes - see the USS website

Opting out of the scheme whilst remaining in employment

Whilst the scheme gives automatic membership, you do not have to take this up and can choose to opt out of the scheme at any time. The options upon leaving the scheme this way are the same as those if you left the employment of the University.

You can of course choose to opt back in, subject to conditions.

Further information

Equality Assessment

The University has conducted a USS Consultation 2018 Equality Assessment


Previous staff communications


Q&A session on proposed changes to the USS pension

Andrew Connolly, Chief Financial Officer, University of Exeter, along with Dr Barrie Cooper, Joint President of the University of Exeter Branch of UCU, answered questions on Tuesday 9 January.  Colleagues can watch a recording(sign-on required). Colleagues can also sign in to view the USS slides from Barrie on behalf of the UCU and USS presentation from Andrew representing the University as employer. A written summary of questions and answers can be seen here: USS Q&A 09.01.2018.  


USS website

USS launched webpages in January 2019 about the 2018 technical provisions consultation - see the consultation document, information and FAQs here. 

Changes due to commence in April 2019, including an increase in employee contributions from 8% to 8.8% (the employer contribution will increase from 18% to 19.5%) are explained here

Full information for USS members regarding the 2017 valuation can be found on the USS website.