Dear Professor Layzell,
We are sending you this Open Letter and would be grateful if you could respond openly as well.
A number of Vice Chancellors and Principals have gone on public record with their concerns about the proposed changes to USS. We are asking you to do the same.
The proposed changes safeguard the final salary pensions of long-serving and retired staff. However, this is done at the cost of substantial cuts in the contributions made by the College towards pensions for newer staff. Further, these newer staff will have to take on the risk of asset markets going forward, and may – if their investments are unlucky or the market takes a downturn as they approach retirement – end up with very little pension at all.
The serious intergenerational inequality should be of concern not just to newer staff, but to those long-serving and retired staff who will be benefiting at the expense of newer entrants to the profession. But also, the severe diminution of pensions will impact upon the College’s ability to recruit and retain the best staff. We are already having difficulty attracting European staff. All staff will have to weigh the much more attractive total salary and benefits packages on offer elsewhere against the relatively low salaries and pension provision at the College.
If you agree with us on these points, we ask you to signal this publicly, as has been done by other Vice Chancellors and Principals at top research universities.
Academics and students have shown a remarkable degree of support for the current action. The local branch of UCU has had a significant number of new members signing up. All indications are that a large number of staff support the action that is vital to maintaining the long-run sustainability of the College.
However, we all worry about the short-run disruption to our students. We believe, strongly, that a statement from you, along the lines that we suggest would allow many staff to step back from this course of action to the benefit of all members of the RHUL family. Further, when the national strike is resolved, everyone would easily come together in the spirit of cooperation
and consensus that has been such an important component of collegiality at Royal Holloway over more than a century of excellence in education.
With best wishes,
RHUL UCU local branch committee on behalf of our members