Oxford University drops support for pensions cuts

Oxford University has switched sides in the dispute over reforms to the university staff pensions system, abandoning its support for cuts to employee retirement incomes. Until now it has backed proposals by Universities UK (UUK) to switch from a defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution system, a move expected to leave the average lecturer £10,000 a year worse off in retirement. 

The university had blocked a debate by staff on Tuesday (6th March), but an informal vote by academics saw them vote 442-2 against the plan. In response, Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson agreed to call a special meeting of the university's council on Wednesday (7th March) to recommend dropping Oxford's support for the changes. This means Oxford joins around 30 other universities, including Cambridge, in opposing the UUK scheme. 

UUK originally proposed the changes to the pension scheme after an assessment found it currently has a deficit of around £6 billion, but angry Academics at dozens of universities have been undertaking strike action over the issue in recent weeks. The two sides recently agreed to involve the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service as a mediator in the dispute.