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

Latest update on the 2020 valuation

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


USS is currently undertaking a valuation (a statutory assessment of a pension scheme’s overall financial health) as at 31 March 2020. Employers were consulted about the assumptions and technical provisions for this valuation in the autumn of 2020. USS published details of the valuation findings in early March 2020, and their figures project a large deficit for the scheme, which would necessitate a steep rise in contributions to fund. The next step will be for the Joint Negotiating Committee (representing scheme members and employers) to decide how to deal with the deficit and these increased costs.

Articles and University statements on the 2020 valuation of USS (most recent at the top)

14/10/2021 Briefing: Chief Financial Officer Anthony Odgers looks back over the 2020 valuation and considers current live issues

13/09/2021 Briefing: the JNC decision to progress UUK proposal for benefit reform and what it means for members

03/09/2021 Update: JNC decided this week to progress UUK proposal for benefit reform

03/08/2021 Alternative scheme design for USS: a joint statement from Oxford, Cambridge and their UCU branches

09/07/2021 Update: Cambridge willing to accept additional measures for covenant support requested by USS

28/05/2021 Briefing: the University's views on UUK's counter-proposal to USS (and survey results)

28/04/2021 Give your views on USS affordability: the Pensions Working Group is running a survey

26/03/2021 Briefing: what the USS announcement means, and an initial response from the University's Pensions Working Group

03/03/2021 USS announces significant increase in cost of providing current benefits

09/12/2020 'Serious concerns about the 2020 valuation': a joint letter from the University, Colleges and Cambridge UCU to the CEO of USS (Raven login required)

06/11/2020 University consultation response questions USS's approach to technical assumptions for 2020 valuation

04/09/2020 Update: the 2020 valuation process is beginning

09/01/2020 Recording of January 2020 USS open meeting: discussing the second report of the Joint Expert Panel

15/10/2019 Recording of October 2019 USS open meeting: discussing the conclusion of the 2018 valuation, the work of the Joint Expert Panel and looking ahead to the 2020 valuation