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Message from the Vice-Chancellor – Monday 26 February

As UCU’s national industrial action over proposed USS pension changes enters its second week, I want to update you on what I have been doing to try to resolve this issue. You may have heard and read a number of voices in the last week calling for further talks to find a meaningful way forward. As I said last week, I fully support this approach and believe that we need a shared solution to this shared problem. 

As university leaders, I and my fellow Vice-Chancellors have a responsibility to do more than just call for action. We need to take constructive, positive steps to make action happen and use our collective voices wisely. Which is why, last Friday, I met a number of Vice-Chancellors at Universities UK’s offices to discuss a return to meaningful negotiations. I am very pleased that, following our meeting, UUK’s offer of further talks was accepted by UCU and that the parties will be back around the table tomorrow (Tuesday 27 February). This is a positive step in what is a challenging situation and I welcome these negotiations. 

However it is vital for everyone who is being hurt by this – our students who want to study as normal, and our staff, whether or not they are taking action - that all parties approach these national talks prepared to engage seriously and meaningfully. Everyone accepts that the deficit in the pension scheme must be tackled and tomorrow’s talks are an opportunity for UUK and UCU to work together to try to find an affordable, mutually acceptable solution. In particular, UUK are open to hearing alternative UCU proposals that address the significant challenges the scheme is facing, even if this means compromise from both sides. 

On the eve of these new talks, I ask that our campus community continues to act respectfully towards each other. It has been no surprise to me to see the professional and dignified way in which the vast majority of you have acted over the last week. It is a great source of pride to me as Vice-Chancellor and a welcome reminder of what a great university we have here at Sussex. It is this spirit of mutual respect and openness that will give these talks the best chance of the successful outcome we all desperately want. That is something I’m sure we can all agree upon. 

Adam Tickell

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Monday, 26 February 2018