Human Resources

Glossary of terms

USS: The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is the largest private pension scheme in the UK and is the main scheme for academic and some non-academic staff in UK universities. The costs of running the scheme are shared between staff and university employers. Staff members pay a proportion of their monthly salary (currently 9.6%) into the pension scheme and universities make an even larger contribution (currently 21.1%) on their behalf. The USS pension scheme is available to all members of University staff who are on grade 7 or above – i.e. for those staff earning over £33,500 a year.

USS Trustee: The group of people responsible for making sure there is enough money in the pension scheme to pay all current and future pensions.

UCU: The University and College Union (UCU) is the trade union representing staff members on both the USS and pay.

UUK: Universities UK (UUK) is the body representing university employers on pensions.

UCEA: The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) is the body representing university employers on pay.

JNC: The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) has the same number of representatives for staff (UCU for both pay and pensions) and employers (UCEA for pay and UUK for pensions). It decides on pay and any changes to the pension scheme, including how any increased costs should be shared. If a vote is tied, an independent chairperson has the deciding vote.

The Pensions Regulator: This is the government body legally responsible for making sure all pension schemes have enough money and are being run well. If they believe that not enough money is being paid in or a scheme is at risk, they have the power to take over management of the scheme and impose higher contributions. Anything agreed by the JNC and the USS Trustee must also be approved by the Pensions Regulator.