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Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)

Staff on Grades E and above are eligible to join the Universities Superannuation Scheme – commonly known as USS. Membership of the scheme is automatic from your first day of employment.

Latest updates

Update: 3 January 2023

Changes to USS from 1 January 2024

This month member and employer contributions will go down, and in April 2024 there will be further changes to benefits and a one-off uplift to your benefits. These changes are a result of the 2023 triennial valuation. Colleagues who are members of USS were given the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes last term.

The USS website summarises the changes.

1. Your payments each month into the scheme will go down

The USS trustee has confirmed that a combined member and employer contribution rate of 20.6% is needed to fund the benefit changes summarised below. This means that the member contribution rate will drop from 9.8% to 6.1% of salary and the employer contribution rate will reduce from 21.6% to 14.5%. It has been agreed that the reduced contribution rates will apply from 1 January 2024, so colleagues will see reduced pension contributions in their January 2024 salary.

For members earning above the salary threshold, the total contribution to the USS Investment Builder will continue to be 20% of their salary above the revised salary threshold – this will be split as 6.1% from the member and 13.9% from the University.

2. Benefit changes from 1 April 2024

A higher accrual rate

From 1 April 2024, the rate at which benefits build up in the defined benefit part of the scheme - the USS Retirement Income Builder - will increase from 1/85 of salary each year up to the salary threshold, with a retirement lump sum of 3/85 of salary up to the salary threshold, to 1/75 and 3/75 respectively.

Higher cap for future pension increases

Future benefits built up in the USS Retirement Income Builder from 1 April 2024 will increase every year both before and after retirement in line with increases to official pensions (currently in line with CPI) subject to a higher maximum increase of 10% rather than the current maximum of 2.5% with the increases applying as follows:

  • Where the increase to official pensions (currently by reference to CPI) is 5% or less, the increase would be matched.
  • Where the increase to official pensions is more than 5% but less than 15%, the increase would be 5% plus half of the percentage increase over 5%.
  • Where the increase to official pensions is 15% or more, the increase applied would be 10%.

Salary threshold increase

USS is a ‘hybrid’ pension scheme. Members build up pension benefits in the defined benefit part of the scheme (USS Retirement Income Builder) on their salary up to the ‘salary threshold’, which is currently £41,004. If you earn over the salary threshold, you also build up pension benefits in USS Investment Builder, the defined contribution (DC) part of USS. From 1 April 2024, the salary threshold will increase to a figure to be confirmed, but currently anticipated to be £70,308 . The salary threshold will continue to be increased annually in line with increases in official pensions, subject to the increased cap (summarised above).

3. Uplift to benefits from 1 April 2024

The USS Joint Negotiating Committee and USS Trustee have agreed that a one-off uplift will be applied to benefits built up by eligible members between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2024. For active members, from 1 April 2024, there will be a one-off Retirement Income Builder uplift of £215 per annum with an associated £645 retirement lump sum. Retired members will receive an additional Retirement Income Builder pension of £241 per annum from 1 April 2024, (retired members would not receive a lump sum).

Anyone who chooses to opt in or re-joins to the scheme (by or before 31 March 2024 will benefit from this uplift.


There is a full list of communications about USS online.

USS scheme: current overview

The information below summarises the current benefit arrangements for members of the Universities Superannuation Scheme – commonly known as USS. 

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 Team in Human Resources 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.

On 9 September 2021 USS wrote to members to inform them about increases to contributions and proposed changes - read the message online.

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.

Changes to USS Normal Retirement Age

On 6 October 2020 the state pension age (SPA) will increase from 65 to 66 and since the USS scheme is aligned with the standard pension age, the USS Normal Retirement Age will also increase to age 66 at the same time.  The change will only affect benefits that you build up from October 2020.  All benefits in the scheme before that date will not be affected.   If you retire after 6 October 2020 and you are below 66, the Retirement Income Builder benefits you build up from October 2020 may be reduced to reflect early payment.  The Normal Retirement Age in USS will remain aligned with State Pension age for any future increases made by the government.  For more details see the USS website

Further information

  • See the Directgov website for information about your state pension
  • More information about the University Pension Salary Exchange


2023 USS Valuation colleague communications and documents

5 October 2023: A joint statement on UUK and UCU collaboration towards scheme stability, USS benefit improvements and reduced contribution rates

5 October 2023: Dave Stacey, our Chief Financial Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Executive Divisional Director of Finance, Infrastructure and Commercial Services, then you can now catch up online. In the talk, held last Thursday 5 October, Dave spoke about USS and the 2023 valuation and finished the talk with a Q&A session.  Sign in to watch the recording and you can read the questions he didn't have time to answer here: USS Consultation 2023 QandA

20 September 2023: USS Technical Provisions UoE response 2023


The USS employers website contains statements and information from UUK on behalf of employers, including a glossary of terminology.

USS consultation notice September 2023

The independent USS Trustee has a webpage about the 2023 valuation of the scheme.

The USS website also has general information about the scheme and how it is run.