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Breaking: Bristol VC writes to UUK citing 'deep concerns' over pensions reform talks


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Bristol Vice Chancellor Hugh Brady has expressed “concern” over proposed reform to staff pensions in a letter to UUK chief executive and says his Uni has now reconsidered their position “on a number of key issues”.

After listening to the strong views and concerns held by his staff and students, Professor Brady says Bristol is now willing to take more risk, make additional contributions to pensions and "continue with defined benefits that will be financially sustainable".

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In the letter which was sent today - March 9th - Professor Brady tells chief executive Alistair Jarvis he shares in the “frustration” of many staff and students: “that progress towards a sustainable outcome appears to be no closer”.

Professor Brady goes on to outline proposals which he feels could be helpful to finding a way forward and says that progress is a "matter of urgency".

Suggesting an independent panel of pension experts should be brought in to help with the situation, he writes:  “the University would like UUK to work urgently with UCU to establish an independent panel of pensions experts from both within and outside of the sector.

“We believe an independent panel is important for a range of reasons – to bring fresh thinking to this complex situation, to provide greater clarity to staff about the financial position of their pension scheme and the personal implications for them of the options that are brought to the table.”

Professor Brady says he will also be lobbying the Government to address the "unfair" difference in current sector pension schemes, whereby some are backed by Government but others like the USS - the private pension scheme for universities - are not.

The Vice Chancellor has listend to concerns raised by his staff who will be affected by the pension scheme changes - UCU estimates members will be £200,000 worse of in retirement - as well as also speaking with students.

Earlier this week Bristol students staged a three-day occupation of Professor Brady's office in protest of their view the university was lacking in support of its staff in the pensions dispute. The occupation ended after the Vice Chancellor held meetings with the students, agreeing to make several concessions regarding his position, including writing a letter to UUK.

Read the full letter letter here.

Feature image: Youtube / South West Nuclear Hub

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