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UCEA's response on UCU's USS ballot for industrial action

A UCEA spokesperson said:

“Universities UK (UUK) represents all 350 employers participating in USS and is still involved with UCU in the processes to determine the scheme’s future benefits. UCEA will support its 61 members facing possible disruption following the ballots of their UCU members and we know that those employers will want there to be minimum disruption to students. They of course await information on UCU’s dispute plans following these ballots. We hope that most staff will understand the situation regarding funding of the USS and accept whatever decision is made through the scheme’s negotiating machinery on 23 January. 

“Any move to announce industrial action will naturally be disappointing, particularly after such an extensive period for negotiations. HE institutions’ biggest concern will be if students are affected and disruption caused to their studies and we know that many staff in institutions will share this concern.

“Across the 68 HE institutions balloted, 88% of voting UCU members voted in support of taking strike action with 93% supporting ‘action short of a strike’. Although UCU achieved a mandate for industrial action in 61 out of the 68 HE institutions balloted, the number of UCU members voting in favour of strike action represents an estimate of just 16% of academic staff in those HE institutions and 12% of active USS members in HE.

“The vast majority* of HE employees who are USS members appear to understand the reality of the current funding environment and the challenges facing the USS. Many have shown they do not support action that could harm both their institutions and their students. It is for each individual, autonomous institution to decide how best to deal with this industrial action and each will of course wish to protect their students’ interests.” 

* 21,685 UCU members voted for strike action. This represents an estimated 14% of USS members in HE institutions (190,000). There are an additional 7,000 USS members in non-university institutions. According to the latest data available data from HESA, 419,710 people work in the sector - of these 24,707 (or 5.9%) eligible UCU members voted with only 21,685 (or 5.2%) voting in favour of strike action and 22,978 (5.5%) voted for action short of a strike. 


A decision over proposals for change to USS is expected to be reached tomorrow (23 January) at the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC).

UCEA is responsible for providing advice and support to its 172 member HE institutions in all employment matters, including matters such as industrial action.

Universities UK’s USS Pension Reform member resources are available on their pensions section at alongside facts, Q&A, modelling and other communications.


For further information: Please contact Andy Fryer, Head of Communications and Membership ( or Marc Whittaker, Communications and Events Manager ( Call 020 7383 2444.