Higher Education E-Bulletin: Issue 23-Mar 07

  • Changes to the USS pension scheme
  • Job Evaluation data on the website
  • JNCHES Regional Seminars – ‘Working Successfully with Trade Unions on Difficult Issues’
  • Research councils’ budgets slashed by £68m
  • Call for more money
  • University funding to rise by 6%
  • Market of Higher Education
  • Greening workplace course
  • Allan Howard 1949-2007
  • Amicus and TGWU Merger results

Changes to the USS pension scheme
USS are expected to announce proposed changes to the scheme that could have a future impact on any new transfers into the scheme.

USS have not yet been able to get the pension age changes for new members of the scheme from 60 to 65. These were due to apply from March 2007 but as the Trustees disagreed over the issue the matter has been put back to the next trustee meeting. However the changes are expected to come into force in 2007.

The main expected changes are:

New joiners to the scheme from would have a standard normal retirement age of 65, irrespective of the terms of their employment.
To introduce an actuarial charge for employers in respect of early retirements before age 60 other than due to incapacity. The extra cost of an early retirement granted by an institution before age 60 would now be paid for by that individual institution rather than be covered generally by the scheme, as previously. Special arrangements will be put in place to exempt retirements agreed before the announcement.
To introduce a flexible retirement arrangement by the summer of 2007.
For more information on the proposed changes please visit the pensions area on the Education Sector website:

Please note to view these documents you will have to register with My Amicus on the website:

Job Evaluation data on the website
This is a reminder that Amicus workplace representatives now have access to a significant amount of comparative data on job evaluation deals, draft deals and pay grades.

To access this information reps will have to register on the Amicus website in the
“my amicus” section. The information will then appear under the Job Evaluation section of the Education Sector website.

Click here for the job evaluation page on the Education Sector website:
Click here to sign into My Amicus:

JNCHES Regional Seminars – ‘Working Successfully with Trade Unions on Difficult Issues’
UCEA are delivering a programme of fully funded, regionally delivered experiential learning seminars entitled ‘Working Successfully with Trade Unions on Difficult Issues’. The seminars will be jointly attended by university managers and staff, and regional and local trade union representatives.

The seminars are due to take place on the following dates:

  • Glasgow – 26 March
  • London – 3 April
  • Bristol – 12 April
  • Nottingham – 25 April

If reps want to attend the seminars but have not been advised by their local HR please let Vera Titmus know as quickly as possible and Amicus will make a separate application to UCEA.

For more information on the seminars please click here:

These seminars are part of the JNCHES partnerships project. See here for more information:

Research councils’ budgets slashed by £68m
This month the Government announced it would take £68 million away from the research councils’ budgets. This will have a major effect on scores of academic research grants, postdoctoral research positions support staff and PhD students.

The money will be taken from the eight research councils to help fill a shortfall in the Department of Trade and Industry’s budget.

Who lost what? :

  • AHRC £5.3 million
  • BBSRC £6.7 million
  • CCLRC £0.5 million
  • EPSRC £29 million
  • ESRC £3.0 million
  • MRC £10.7 million
  • Nerc £9.7 million
  • Pparc £3.1 million

Call for more money
Vice-chancellors have called on the Government to invest an extra £4.9 billion into higher education over the next three years.

In its submission to the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review, Universities UK says the additional money is needed to back fully funded growth in student numbers and to at least maintain current resources for teaching and research.

UUK president Drummond Bone told vice-chancellors at their spring meeting in Liverpool that top-up fees must remain additional to, not a substitute for, public investment in higher education.

University funding to rise by 6%
Universities in England will share £7.14bn for teaching, research, vulnerable subjects and special funding in the coming year, the funding council, Hefce, announced today.

Hefce also confirmed that institutions would receive an extra £75m over the next three years to fund and encourage the study of physics, chemistry and engineering.

The total funding package of £7.14bn includes a number of individual allocations to be made at a later date which are not recorded here. They total £1.26bn.
Moderation ensures that the reductions in funding through Hefce’s formula allocations are manageable.
No institution will get an increase of less than 2% compared with the equivalent unmoderated allocation for 2006-07, subject to a minimum of £100,000. Hefce funding allocations 2007-08 To see the full figures on the Guardian website click here .

Market of Higher Education
A new report by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education warns that the rise of commercial forces is threatening the developing world where demand for higher education risks being exploited.

‘Higher Education as a Global Commodity: The Perils and Promises for Developing Countries’ illustrates that universities worldwide are losing sight of their “social, cultural and intellectual objectives” as commercial forces turn them into simple producers of “commodities”.

“The burgeoning demand combined with fragile systems of higher education… pose attractive market prospects for potential exporters,” says the report HE as a Global community, ” Commercial forces worldwide have propelled universities to function less as institutions, with social, cultural and indeed intellectual objectives, and more as producers of commodities that can be sold in the international marketplace.”

To find out more about the report click here and here.

Greening workplace course
The Spring programme of Trade Union & Environment Courses has been announced, with free (to TU members) 3-day courses running in London (3 courses), Newcastle and Exeter between February to April – for further details, and to book a place, see here:

Allan Howard 1949-2007
It is with great sadness that we report that Amicus representative for King’s College, Allan Howard passed away last month.

Alan was an inspiration to his colleagues in King’s college and worked tirelessly for members in King’s. As well as his branch role Alan was a London Delegate to the Higher Education National Industrial Committee, the Regional Education Sector Committee and Chair of the National Negotiating Committee. He was heavily involved in Joint National Committee for Higher Education Staff and represented the staff side on negotiations with the University and Colleges Employers Association.

Allan will be dearly missed. To read a full obituary for Allan on the Amicus website click here:

Amicus and TGWU Merger results
Amicus and T&G members have voted to merge to create Britain and Ireland ‘s newest and biggest trade union with around two million members.

In the ballot to approve the creation of the as yet unnamed new union, the T&G gave the go-ahead by 86.4% for merger and Amicus members voted 70.1% for merger. Both unions achieved a 27% turnout.

This e-bulletin has been produced by James Lazou, Research Officer for the Higher Education sector. If you have any news items or stories you would like included in the bulletin please contact James.

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