I am still following UUK, Employers Pension Forum (ucea.ac.uk/en/empres/pens…), Aon around. Still fascinated by how futures are made. #ucustrike #USSstrike
This time I'll excerpt from 2 documents stored on the UUK website: universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… & universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… NB Both still carry a 'confidential' watermark, but there isn't any firewall #ucustrike #ussstrike
We know from recent events that UUK isn't always the most technologically proficient. Maybe they forgot to take the watermark off. Maybe they forgot to put them behind the firewall. Who knows. #ussstrike #ucustrike
From the document properties, you can see that both are dated 26 September 2016. universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana…
They both provide a nice follow on from the UCEA "Pensions in 2015 & beyond – a shifting landscape" event in June 2015 that @gailfdavies reported on, which featured the presentation 'challenging the “DB good, DC bad” viewpoint" #ucustrike #ussstrike
The first doc is on for the "Employers Pensions Forum (EPF)1 USS Town Hall Event
HE Pensions strategy: drivers and objectives"; the second is on "USS Mutuality: Flexibility of pension cost and provision – an introduction". #uccstrike #ussstrike
They should be read in conjunction with (& are footnoted in) the "Development & Background to UUK/EPF Guiding Principles" doc (Feb 2017) ucu.group.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/upl… that @MikeOtsuka has discussed here medium.com/@mikeotsuka/ox… #ussstrike #ucustrike
These briefing docs for the town hall meetings are prepared before the USS valuation (Sept 2016) and, as all good briefings do, orient both the topics & framework for discussion. Flexibility, unsurprisingly, features strongly #ucustrike #ussstrikes (excerpt from Paper 1)
The documents operate in full anticipatory mode - making it clear that it's not yet possible to know the scale of the USS deficit (the valuation will take place 6 months hence). They exhort their readers: "options need to start being considered by employers" #ucustrike #ussstrike
Employers! Don't confine your horizons simply to the possibliity of making higher employer and/or employee contributions -- let them soar higher:
#ucustrike #ussstrike employers and representatives should consider:<br />
 the flexibility needed by individual employers to control costs whilst providing an attractive benefit package (discussed in town hall paper <span class= 2)
 the actuarial inputs and assumptions made by the trustee and contributing to the views to be considered as part of USS’s decision-making in this area
 altering the levers, etc." src="/images/1px.png" data-src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DXyclKjXkAITott.jpg">
Am reposting since I left off initial phrase:

"employers & representatives should consider:"

(p.8 Paper 1). universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana…
#ucustrike #ussstrike
Note the helping hand of Aon, which will craft these futures in more detail:
"Each of these options will be set out in more detail by UUK’s actuarial advisors Aon at the town hall meetings in order to help employers understand the opportunities and challenges they each present"
Right after the final town hall event, there will be a web survey 'seeking institutions’ views on options available'. The sector needs to decide whether to keep the status quo 'or alternatively make more fundamental changes to the current framework' (p. 8) #ucustrike #ussstrike USS employers will subsequently be issued a web survey at the end of September (following the final town hall event) seeking institutions’ views on options available, as well as longer term strategic views on pensions for the sector.<br />
Broadly, the sector will need to decide whether to maintain current provision and structure, potentially agreeing a package of adjustments within the current USS framework to improve its
Paper 1 one closes with a reminder of what to be thinking about in advance of the town hall events #ussstrike #ucustrike:

i.e. that the objectives EPF is working to are: cost control, understanding reward and increased flexibility (p. 10)

#ucustrike #ussstrike Institutions are asked to consider some exploratory questions including:<br />
 Do the objectives to which the EPF are working to (cost control, understanding reward and increased flexibility) align with the view of your institution?<br />
 If the higher education sector wishes to think differently about pensions what should that new approach include to ensure the financial sustainability of the sector whilst providing adequat
So, UUK/EDF do what they say they'll do. They run the town hall events. Aon help out. Delegates represent 89 USS employers & cover over 83% of USS active membership. They run a survey in October. 115 USS employers respond. (ucu.group.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/upl… p. 2) #ucustrike #ussstrike This shows the text of the tweet.
And when UUK/EPF report the findings, they are able to provide quite a bit of supporting evidence in relation to their guiding principle on flexibility (ucu.group.shef.ac.uk/wp-content/upl… p. 9) #ucustrike #ussstrike From discussions at the town hall events and in the responses from the survey it is evident that a uniform pension solution for the sector is becoming difficult to align with an increasingly divergent sector. Different institutions have different strategic priorities and many want more flexibility in the pensions they can offer to help them provide a reward package most suited to their needs and the needs of their em
And here's what happens when they get to their guiding Principle 5 "Employees should have more choice and control over their pension contributions and benefits" (refer back to other tweets from @gailfdavies & me on choice & control):

#ucustrike #usstrike
The employers don't just want 'more flexibility' for themselves. They also believe that employees - *that's you buddy* (whether you already have your USS pension or whether 'a USS pension is not a suitable option' -- should have 'more choice and control over their pension saving'
They want to be able 'to offer alternative pension benefits to those w affordability concerns' & to 'those on short/fixed term contracts'. You can't change that world it seems; but you can give those 'w affordability concerns' & precarious contracts 'alternative pension benefits'
2 quick & obvious reminders:

1. We know where flexibility, choice, and 'alternative pension benefits' are heading.

#ucustrike #ussstrike
2. Social scientists know, from the very first methods class they take as an undergraduate, that if you brief your respondents well (in both written and oral form) before they take your survey, well ... you know where this is heading, too.

#ucustrike
#ussstrike
[And now a quick & deep lament that the Masterclass in Social Research that I convene for Masters students at Birkbeck would, right now, today, just have finished, and it was cancelled because of the need to be on strike.] #ussstrike #ussstrike
& also to urge those of you interested in the discourse around 'mutuality' & 'last man standing' (Happy #IWD2018 , BTW, everyone) in relation to #USS to read Paper 2 (currently marked 'confidential' & not behind a UUK paywall) here: universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… #ussstrike #ucustrike
Now, to finish up this thread ... Earlier today @Philip_Roscoe published a fabulous blog post, "Deficit, what deficit? The politics of financial fact", which you should all read philiproscoe.net/2018/03/08/def… #ucustrike #ussstrike
In that post, he speculated that after the pensions regular intervened in October last year, "UUK took the opportunity offered by the regulator’s intervention to back the large minority of respondents in calling for an end to defined benefits" #ucustrike #ussstrike Here I speculate, but it seems that UUK took the opportunity offered by the regulator’s intervention to back the large minority of respondents in calling for an end to defined benefits, doing away with the employers’ share of all future risk arising from the scheme, for ever. The risk doesn’t go away, of course, but simply moves into the laps of employees where – according to neoliberal visions of a market-organized,
And now I speculate: if UUK did indeed take that opportunity, you could go back a number of years & find quite a lot of stuff that you might be able to use to back up that call by UUK to end DB #ucustrike #ussstrike
OK, I'll call it a day, w 2 last asides #ucustrike #ussstrike
1. I am coming, reluctantly, to the conclusion, that Twitter deciding to extend the number of characters in tweets has been helpful to the #ussstrike #ucustrike
2. I am tempted to copy @UniversitiesUK in, since I kinda want to know if it they forgot to remove the watermarks, or they forgot to put their docs behind a firewall universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-ana… #ucustrike #ussstrike

#techguru
Happy #IWD2018

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More from @felicitycallard

Oct 2, 2018
Given importance of HE sector "there may be a case for future governments to consider alternative options" (incl "state-backed guarantee" or "measures enabling more risk-taking"). Powerful piece from @JMariathasan on #USS DB debate post-#JEP ipe.com/analysis/blogs… #USSstrike 1/
Article argues that central problem lies in regulatory changes that transformed management of a DB pension scheme into "a risk management problem, not an investment one" 2/
Read 4 tweets
Sep 22, 2018
Thank you to @EricRoyalLybeck & all the other organisers in Exeter, as well as @ExeterUCU: Volunteer University Revisited was such a magical day. Gathering all of our energies for the months & years to come #YesVolUniCan 1/
Particularly magical to meet some people in the flesh for the first time -- incl. @thetroutpouts @lizmorrish @TheGraceK @sstroschein2 Mike Finn, Alison Wood, @ProfAlastair @ms_rhian @NoisyBits 2/
So many ideas for ways forward. So many kinds of expertise being bought to bear on what now, how, for universities as a community. Also so many testifying to violence, intimidation, threats to academic freedom – & of particular subjects being of course more exposed 3/3
Read 4 tweets
Sep 16, 2018
There's a bonanza of new FOI responses that give us a much better sense of the range of university responses to #UUK #USS consultations from Oct 2016 and Feb/March 2017. Picking through them it's fascinating to see which universities challenged the direction of travel 1/
e.g. Aberdeen: "Aon ... & UCU have indicated that it may be advantageous to consider other models. We are interested in the Trustees views as to whether there are alternative models that could result in a more considered outcome" whatdotheyknow.com/request/508696… cc @aberdeen_ucu 2/
e.g. LSE: "We note that the latest benefit changes were implemented less than 12 months ago. The School’s view is that it is too soon for further changes to be made." whatdotheyknow.com/request/509128… 3/
Read 6 tweets
Sep 16, 2018
So with the publication of the #JEP, the issue of UUK consultations with employer institutions is back big time. Both the famous Sept 2017 survey – and now the possibility, if JEP recommendations are taken up, of UUK reassessing employers' appetite for risk.

I'm worried. 1/
#JEP has emphasised the problems with how UUK framed the questions. What's really obvious if you look back Sept survey is that all the focus is on risk and on a *reduction to benefits*. And NOT on the potential to increase contributions. Or on amending the technical provisions 2/
You can see the structure of the questions here, in Nottingham's response (one of the institutions that wanted less risk): whatdotheyknow.com/request/440685… 3/
Read 18 tweets
Sep 15, 2018
2. #JEP has a lot to say about Test 1. Its sentence 'The view of the Panel is that Test 1 is not well understood outside of USS' is ... well ... certainly marvellously diplomatic.

Cf. and 6/
3. #JEP's discussion of #USS's & #UUK's 'differing perspectives' on the shift from Sept to Nov valuation shows just how murky the deliberations that resulted in this shift still are.

This remains a big issue, given #JEP proposal to reassess employers' atttude to risk (p. 45) 7/ Extract from p. 45 of JEP report
4. #JEP agrees w many of us that UUK's 'framing' of questions around risk in their consultations has serious consequences.

How can we be confident that any future assessment of employers' risk appetite by UUK shows an improvement in their use of social scientific methods? 🧐 8/
Read 13 tweets
Sep 15, 2018
After a few weeks away from Twitter, I'm back to think – alongside many others – about content & rhetoric of the #JEP.

And abt what we at @USSbriefs have been doing all summer w @OpenUPP2018 to encourage deliberations over #USS valuation to take place in public #USSstrike 1/
Many (incl. @NJSHardy @gailfdavies @DrJoGrady @etymologic @MikeOtsuka) have already provided cogent analyses of the #JEP report & its implications. So here I'll just going to pick out some of what has struck me most forcefully on a first read. #USSstrike 2/
1. There's a judicious use of rhetoric – particularly around 'confidence', '(mis)understanding' & 'communication'. This cleaves closely to that used by #UUK & Bill Galvin – whether that is deliberately so as to increase likelihood of acceptance by those parties, you can decide 3/
Read 5 tweets

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