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World-class aspirations

December 4, 2010

The mantra at the University of Leeds, we all know, is the ambition to achieve ‘world-class’ (top 50) status by 2015. Well, recently our University failed in an opportunity to emulate Universities commonly regarded as ‘world-class’: Oxford and Cambridge.

First Oxford and now Cambridge has spoken out against the sham consultation process put in place by the USS over the proposed changes to the USS pension.

The employers want to move all new entrants off the final-salary scheme and on to a career-average earning scheme, introduce detrimental changes for anyone who has a break of more than six months in their employment and limit annual inflation-proofing pension increases.

After Sir Andrew Cubie used his casting vote as chairman of the USS board to decide in favour of the employers’ proposals, USS was legally required to run a consultation on them. UCU argued that the fairest and easiest way to consult with all scheme members was through a ballot on both sets of proposed changes. USS refused and set up a consultation through individual institutions. Individual members have only been sent the proposed changes by the employers, with a leaflet from the employers endorsing them, and been encouraged to feedback their thoughts to their institution.

A proposal to the University of Leeds from the UCU that a ballot of all eligible staff should be prepared was rejected by University of Leeds management. However, Oxford and Cambridge universities have come up with a more world-class proposal. They have rejected the USS consultation process and demanded all USS members are sent both sets of proposals and asked to vote for their preference, with the ballot result then being sent to USS in their university’s response to the consultation.

On Monday 22 November, the council of the University of Cambridge accepted a call from members of the university’s governing body, the Regent House, for USS members and eligible non-members to receive both UCU and the employers’ proposed changes to the USS pension scheme, with arguments for each proposal, and for there to be a consultative ballot on the alternative proposals.

On Tuesday 30 November, Oxford’s Congregation – the university’s ‘parliament’ and highest decision-making body – passed, by a very large majority, a resolution to the same effect, with the additional provision that the university would call for the consultation to be restarted after further information had been provided by USS.


  • “To register to vote, just email with the subject line ‘Defend USS’ and we will send you a unique link enabling you to do so.” *PLEASE NOTE that only members or eligible members of USS should attempt to vote in this referendum. Remember, the referendum is secured through a link unique to you and your vote will only be counted once. Please do not forward your personal link or you risk your vote not being counted.”
  • You can read a copy of the PPF report here
  • For more details on the proposals, and why we oppose them, and how you can have your voice, download our PDF here (available in iPad, iPhone, iPod, Sony reader and Kindle versions here)
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