University of Exeter Retirement Savings Scheme (ERSS)

The University of Exeter Retirement Saving Scheme (ERSS) is a Defined Contribution pension arrangement and is the pension arrangement that is open for all staff grades B-D. Membership of the scheme is automatic from your first day of employment.


The Pensions team have run seminars to give you more information about the ERSS scheme. You can watch a recording or view slides on our seminars page.


About the scheme

ERSS gives benefits based on contributions from the member, the University and on the investment returns gained on those contributions. Each member’s individual defined contribution (DC) account will build up over time from the money paid in from employee and University contributions and the returns on those invested contributions. On retirement, subject to the legislation in force at that time, you will have a choice on how to use the funds in your individual DC account, for example to purchase a pension (or “annuity”) or to take as a cash lump sum (some of which may be tax free and some of which may be taxed). You can read Scottish Widows' short guide to the scheme: ERSS Quick Guide, watch a short webinar on ERSS About the Scheme, or see our page of recent webinars from Scottish Widows. 

Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria, staff will automatically become members. Membership is automatic but not compulsory and you can opt out of the scheme within 30 days of the first monthly deduction from pay. Opting out is subject to the rules of the scheme. 

Membership of the scheme automatically ceases at age 75 in accordance with the HMRC rules on tax relief and pension contributions.

Tiered matching contribution structure

ERSS has a tiered matching contribution structure, which is intended to provide more flexibility for employees and an incentive to save more for retirement. The scheme offers the following tiers of contribution options. 

  • Band 2 is the DEFAULT band for all new appointments.
 Employee contribution (% of pensionable salary)University contribution (% of pensionable salary
Band 1 3.0% 5.0%
Band 2 4.0% 6.0%
Band 3 6.0% 10.0%
Band 4 8.0% 12.0%

For your current ERSS  band rate please download your payslip using Trent Self Service ESS - Login (

Scottish Widows 

Visit the Scottish Widows website for more information about the scheme including an online calculator. Scottish Widows also has run a series of jargon-free webinars about financial matters - see them all on their Youtube channel

New joiners

Staff on Grades B - D are eligible to join the University Of Exeter Retirement Savings Scheme (ERSS) which is administered by the Scottish Widows.

The Contract of Employment you will be offered before you join the University of Exeter will contain brief details of the pension scheme. Importantly, your contract will inform that you will automatically be put into the ERSS unless you opt not to join. 

Membership of the ERSS is automatic but not compulsory so you can opt out if you wish. You are able to opt out once you have received your pack from the ERSS administrators, Scottish Widows, which is sent to you after having the first deduction from pay. When you get the pack please follow the instructions on opting out. The University does not supply opt out forms for the ERSS.

For more details about the scheme please visit the Scottish Widows website


We have collated answers to the most frequently asked questions about the ERSS scheme. Please see our short word document written by our own pensions expert, Alison Rose: Pension Q&A or see our FAQs webpage.

Annual Statements

Annual Statements are issued in May.  See the statement for 2024 here: ERSS Annual Statement 2024. Take time to review your plans and see if you are on track for the retirement you would like. 


Scottish Widows 2018 presentation

Further information

Investment choices from Scottish Widows

Scottish Widows, who run the scheme, are changing the investment options available for your ERSS benefits, giving members greater flexibility and choice of investment funds. For example, 13 funds could be selected which represent sustainable, environmental, social and ethical investment choices. For more information about why and how this change will be made and how it will affect you please see a powerpoint presentation: Scottish Widows presentation.

Scottish Widows have confirmed that whilst there will be no change to the standard transaction costs that apply to the account you have with them, the switch to the new Pension Investment Approach may generate a once off  small transaction cost. This is caused by the necessary selling and buying of funds which is expected to be offset by the higher returns that the new investment funds will provide. Details of this has been emailed to members.