Update on major issues | University of Oxford

Update on major issues

This page contains brief information on a number of key issues affecting University staff:

  • Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) Valuation 2017
  • Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) update
  • Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA)

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) Valuation 2017

Updated 13 October 2017

What is the USS?

The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is the University's pension scheme for staff who are on academic and academic-related scales of pay (Grade 6 and over). It is the principal pension scheme for universities and other higher education institutions in the UK. Oxford University is one of around 360 employers who use this scheme.

What is the remit of the USS Valuation?

Every three years, USS carries out a valuation to analyse the scheme’s funding positon. This legal requirement enables the trustee, Universities UK (representing all employers in the scheme) and University and College Union representatives the opportunity to consider whether the findings indicate that adjustments need to be made to future contribution rates or the scheme’s future benefits – or to both.

What stage are we at with the 2017 Valuation?

USS trustee issued a technical discussion document on the methodology and key inputs for the 2017 Valuation in February 2017 seeking views from employers, via Universities UK, on the range of inputs. 

Following this, the University of Oxford’s USS review working group (members are listed below), considered the discussion document and submitted its response in March 2017. In reaching its views, the review working party sought specialist advice from independent actuaries. The response is available from the right-hand column of this page (Related Documents).

On 1 September 2017 the USS Trustee board issued a formal consultation on the technical provisions of the Scheme to Universities UK  (see https://www.uss.co.uk/how-uss-is-run/valuation/2017-valuation-updates/consultation-with-universities-uk-commences)

The University’s USS review working group  considered the consultation and submitted its views on the consultation via a survey from Universities UK.  This will enable Universities UK to collate the views from the employers participating in USS about the funding and benefits in USS given the funding challenges facing the scheme at this valuation. The University’s response is available from the right-hand column of this page (Related Documents).

USS have provided details on how decisions are made on future pension for USS at https://www.uss.co.uk/how-uss-is-run/views-from-uss/how-decisions-are-made-on-future-pensions-for-uss

Further information on the valuation and the timetable can be found on the USS website https://www.uss.co.uk/how-uss-is-run/valuation

Membership of the University of Oxford USS review working group

  • Mr John Church, Bursar, Pembroke College
  • Professor Gordon Clark, Social Sciences Division
  • Mr Julian Duxfield, Director of Human Resources
  • Professor Richard Hobbs, Medical Sciences Division (Chair)
  • Professor Sam Howison, MPLS Division
  • Professor Jane Humphries, Humanities Division
  • Mr Giles Kerr, Director of Finance
  • Sir David Norgrove, External member of Council

Next steps

Any proposed changes to contributions or benefits will need to be considered within the negotiating structure of USS.  Employer and employee representatives (Universities UK and University and College Union (UCU) respectively) will each develop a position on their response to the outcome of the valuation, which will then be discussed and negotiated within the USS’s Joint Negotiating Committee. 

Further reading

The guide to the formal review of USS’s funding position in 2017 provides more information, including videos explaining the valuation process in more detail.

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) update

Updated 1 August 2017

USS published its annual report and accounts for the year ending 31 March 2017 on 28 July 2017 and issued a statement on the results.   

The details are available to view here: https://www.uss.co.uk/how-uss-is-run/valuation/annual-report-and-accounts-2017-update

Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA)

Updated 13 June 2017


The University has operated an EJRA of 30 September before the 68th birthday for all academic and academic-related staff since 2011. The policy was introduced following changes in national legislation which removed the default retirement age. It was agreed that the EJRA would operate for ten years, with an interim review after five years. 

The EJRA is intended to maintain turnover in support of its Aims, which include refreshing the workforce, maintaining opportunities for career progression across the generations, and promoting diversity.

The policy includes an exceptions procedure, under which individuals may apply for employment beyond the EJRA. Applications are considered by the EJRA Committee, with a right of appeal.  

As reported in the Gazette of 25 September 2014, the University’s Appeal Court heard an appeal in 2014 and raised some issues regarding the EJRA policy and procedure. Council approved revisions to the Aims and Procedure to address these issues and take account of case law. 

Review of the EJRA 

working party to review the EJRA was established by Council in July 2015. It began work in Michaelmas 2015 and reported to Council and Congregation in Hilary 2017. Congregation debated the Group’s proposals – including moving the age of the EJRA from 67 to 68 and limiting its coverage to grades 8 and above – in Trinity 2017, and voted to approve them. This was confirmed in a postal ballot. The changes will come into effect on 1 October 2017.

Those with a retirement date of 30 September 2017, including those at grades 6 and 7, will retire as planned. Staff at grades 6 and 7 with an EJRA later than 1 October 2017 will no longer be required to retire on a set date.

Later in Trinity 2017, Congregation debated and voted on a resolution seeking the abolition of the EJRA. The resolution was defeated in the house and in a subsequent postal ballot.

The release of decisions in the University’s internal Appeal Court.


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