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Changes to academic pensions

Proposals have been made by Universities UK (UUK) that would see significant detrimental changes being made to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and affect those who are part of this scheme working for academic institutions.

To be clear these proposals are solely linked to the USS and would have no impact on members of other pension schemes, such as the NHS Pension Schemes.

UCU strike action

Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) held a fresh round of strikes in December 2021, relating to the continuing proposed Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension reforms.

We continue to share UCU's concern at the detrimental proposals for members of the USS. We have previously highlighted to the USS our concerns in respect of their pension proposals.  

These changes make the USS look increasingly less attractive than the NHS Pension Scheme available to dentists elsewhere.  

We have great sympathy for the decision that UCU members have taken and will, of course, support any BDA member who is also a member of the UCU or is otherwise affected by the industrial action.

If you are a BDA member and need advice about your employment rights you can contact the BDA's Employment Relation Officers on 0207 563 4541. 

If you wish to discuss any other pensions issues specifically, BDA members can also contact BDA Pensions on 0207 563 6897 or email joanne.mckeown@bda.org.

What is happening?

Between 2011 to 2017, Universities have made a series of incremental cuts to academics pensions. In its three-yearly valuation in 2017, the USS identified a £7.5bn deficit in the scheme’s finances.

USS members faced contribution increases to help fund the growing deficit in the pensions pot. The employee contribution rose from 8% to 8.8% in April 2019, from 8.8% to 9.6% in October 2019.  As a result of the latest valuation conducted in 2020 the contributions are set to rise again to 11%.  

What is the BDA doing?

We have been talking to UCU and other trade unions in the higher education sector, and our national lay members committee has been briefed on developments.

We will continue to stand in solidarity for all academics involved, and we are committed to supporting any dental academics who may be impacted by the changes. 

How do I find out which pensions scheme I belong to?

There is no common position for dentists employed in the Higher Education (HE) sector with regards to pensions' schemes.

Some employees are offered a choice as to whether they participate in the NHS Pension Scheme or the USS (but you can't be in both simultaneously), whereas in others, the institution decides which scheme you can belong to. 

If you are unsure which scheme you belong to, you can check your payslip and any recent pension benefit statement to confirm which pension scheme you are contributing to. 

You can also check your original contract of employment, to see if you were given a choice as to which scheme you could join.

Working for you

Through our policy and campaigning work, we ensure that the concerns of all sections of the profession are raised and that dentists' voices are heard at a national level. If you'd like to be kept up to date with our progress:

With each new member, our voice and our influence grows. Add your voice, join today.