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Exams at risk as education union votes on action in pensions row

University of Aberdeen
University of Aberdeen

Lecturers at Scottish universities could refuse to set exams for their students if a ballot calling for industrial action in a pensions row succeeds.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) across 67 universities in the UK will be balloted, asking them to refuse to set exams, mark coursework, or give their students formal feedback.

The proposed industrial action is in response to changes in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), which provides pensions for the staff of the UK’s “old” universities.

According to research by the UCU, staff could lose up to £200,000 from their pensions if the changes to the USS scheme proposed by Universities UK (UKK), a universities advocacy group, were to go ahead.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Staff see their pensions as deferred pay and are understandably angry at the impact these proposals would have.

“We are making it very clear in this ballot that if members back industrial action, and there is no negotiated solution, we will be looking to quickly move to an assessment and exam boycott.”

Staff at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen universities are among the institutions across the UK where staff will be balloted in response to the proposed pension changes.

An Aberdeen University spokeswoman said: “The university is continuing to participate in the national negotiations about pensions.

“We fully appreciate that it is a very important part of the remuneration package for our staff.”

Staff at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University and the University of the Highlands and Islands will not receive the ballot.

A spokesman for the Employers Pensions Forum said: “UCU’s ballot material includes misinformation over the employers’ proposals for reform that are not yet finalised.

“We are working with the UCU and the trustees of the USS to consider what reforms are necessary and discussions concerning the financial position of the scheme and how this can be addressed are ongoing.”

Balloting will take place at affected universities from tomorrow to Monday, tOctober 20.

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