Oxford U-turn in university pension cut dispute

Oxford College has reversed its help for pension cuts, which have sparked strikes at 64 universities.

Oxford now joins about 30 different universities, together with Cambridge, calling for a rethink.

In an electronic mail to employees, vice-chancellor Louise Richardson mentioned she would advocate a U-turn on the adjustments at a particular assembly of the college’s council on Wednesday.

Oxford had blocked a debate on the plans at a gathering on Tuesday.

The college used a technicality to droop Tuesday’s debate, and offended teachers then moved exterior the constructing the place a decision for Oxford to reverse its stance was carried by 442 votes to 2.

‘Depth of feeling’

Prof Richardson has been a key supporter of Universities UK’s plans for the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which employees say will price them a median of £10,000 a yr in retirement.

However her electronic mail to employees, despatched on Wednesday, signalled a change of coronary heart over the college’s response to UUK’s plan, in a session final yr.

The e-mail seems to simply accept that Tuesday’s vote is binding.

“Within the gentle of the depth of feeling of so many colleagues, we’ll convene a particular assembly of council in the present day at midday and might be recommending that council reverse its response to the UUK survey in keeping with congregation’s decision,” she wrote.

Universities UK needs to vary the united statesfrom a defined-benefit scheme, giving members a assured revenue in retirement, to a defined-contribution scheme, the place pensions are topic to adjustments within the inventory market.

The plan was put ahead after an analysis mentioned the scheme confronted a deficit of £6bn.

UUK says universities have been consulted on the proposals and numerous responses backed the adjustments.

However there have been issues that the responses of particular person Oxbridge faculties got the identical weight as these of a lot bigger establishments, swaying the outcome.

And, two Cambridge faculties, St Catharine’s and King’s, have mentioned their responses have been the views of the employees members who stuffed within the survey, moderately than an official place.

For the reason that strike motion started, about 30 universities, together with Cambridge, Bristol, Essex, Goldsmiths and Loughborough, have referred to as for compromise.

Responding to Prof Richardson’s electronic mail, Sally Hunt, common secretary of the College and School Union, mentioned: “This can be a very welcome choice by the College of Oxford.

“I want to thank everybody who has campaigned so strongly in help of the union’s place.”

‘An amazing alternative’

Dr Karma Nabulsi, one in every of six teachers who organised the Oxford motions, mentioned Prof Richardson’s electronic mail was “an incredible alternative to restart discussions”.

One other, Prof Robert Gildea, added: “At the present time belongs to Oxford and our colleagues throughout the nation.

“We want to thank them for his or her steadfastness and the vice-chancellor for recognising it.”

A Universities UK spokesman mentioned the employers have been “united of their perception… that USS should be reasonably priced, sustainable and proceed to supply a significant profit to employees”.

“Over the past two years, Universities UK has consulted employers extensively on pensions reform by way of surveys, quite a few conferences, written proof and in depth skilled recommendation.”

Greater than 130,000 college students have now signed petitions asking for refunds for tuition hours misplaced in the course of the strike, which is now in its third week.

Printed at Wed, 07 Mar 2018 17:30:02 +000zero