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The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, sent the following message to all Cambridge staff and students on Wednesday 21 February.

Dear colleagues and members of the university,

I wanted to write to you ahead of the industrial action faced by the University of Cambridge and other universities across the country.

We have a duty to students to provide them with the finest opportunities to learn, and we deeply regret any action that has a negative impact on their education. Equally, we understand the real concern of academics who feel the pension they expected may now be changed by circumstances outside their control. The current situation is not sustainable and needs to be resolved in the interests of students, academics and the higher education sector.

Cambridge has a limited ability to influence the process that has led to this situation, and I want to assure you categorically that there has been no cooperation between Cambridge and Oxford to undermine the scheme, as has been reported by some media. UUK, which represents all universities in the scheme, has already made this clear, saying that it consulted with more than 350 employers and took account of all the responses it received.

We are continuing to work intensively to explore all options that could help reduce the impact of the changes proposed. In doing so, we have been engaging extensively with other employers and the UCU. For example, we are looking at whether there is any possibility of:

  • a collective Defined Contribution scheme, which potentially offers lower risk and better returns than individual DC schemes, and
  • the future reintroduction of Defined Benefit payments should real interest rates recover.

We are not confining our work to these options but looking at several others as well to ensure that we recognise and reward the talent that has made Cambridge a leading global University. We do not know whether any of these options will be viable. But we have a duty to find an equitable outcome for staff and ensure our students receive the education they deserve.

Professor Stephen J. Toope
Vice-Chancellor