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For definitions of terms used on these pages, see this glossary.

Latest updates on USS

13 September 2021

  • The USS joint negotiating committee (JNC) has voted in favour of UUK's proposals for benefit reform as part of the 2020 valuation of the scheme
  • If fully implemented, this would result in significant cuts to members' future benefits
  • USS has agreed to work with UUK and UCU to explore alternative models for scheme design that have the potential to offer enhanced benefits and better value for money, but this will not take place as part of the 2020 valuation
  • Next steps include a consultation with members, due to start in early November
  • The University's Pensions Working Group has emailed its view on these developments to all members of the scheme at Cambridge.

3 August 2021

  • Cambridge, Oxford and their respective UCU branches have published a joint statement calling for exploration of a new approach to USS scheme design
  • The statement calls for a fully-resourced team to be set up to look into alternative scheme designs and to report in six months
  • We believe that it should be possible to provide a good pension for 25-30% of salary (combined member and employer contributions) and that conditional indexation – a form of member risk-and reward-sharing – is one of the designs that should be examined and considered, given the constraints of the current regulatory and actuarial approach
  • Any viable conditional indexation design would need to ensure there is not the discretion for the trustee to withhold indexation out of a desire (without clear justification) to increase the level of prudence in the scheme
  • Any alternative scheme design should only be considered if extensive modelling demonstrates it is not likely to result in lower pensions for members
  • Any alternative scheme design will not be part of the solution to the 2020 valuation

See all University statements on the 2020 valuation

Members of USS will be notified of relevant news about the scheme in the USS bulletin, an occasional e-bulletin produced by the University to which all USS members at Cambridge are automatically subscribed. The University also holds periodic open meetings to discuss developments with USS: you can view recordings of previous meetings (Raven login required).

About USS

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is a pension scheme for the UK university sector. A large number of staff at the University and Cambridge Assessment are members of USS. You can read more about the benefits provided by the pension scheme on the USS website.

USS is required by law to undertake a valuation – essentially an assessment of its overall financial health – every three years. The pensions regulator expects these to be completed within a certain time period. The last two valuations have been contentious, with the three main parties involved – the USS trustee, UCU, which represents members, and UUK, which represents employers – struggling to reach agreement on how the valuation should be conducted and the level of contributions required to maintain existing benefits.  

Valuations in 2017 and 2018 projected large deficits for the scheme, with member and employer contributions rising – from 8% and 18% respectively in 2017 to 9.6% and 21.1% respectively since 1 October 2019. Benefits have remain largely unchanged.   

As part of the resolution to the disputed 2018 valuation, a further valuation as at 31 March 2020 was proposed and the 2020 valuation is now in progress.  

2017 and 2018 valuations

Articles about the 2017 and 2018 valuations that used to be on this page have been archived at the links below: