Responding to the Panel's report, Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, which formally represents the collective view of more than 350 USS employers, said: "We are pleased to receive the Joint Expert Panel's independent examination of the USS valuation processes and assumptions. We hope that it will create the space for UCU and UUK to find common ground to conclude the 2017 valuation.
"The panel has recommended possible ways of reducing the deficit and the cost of future defined benefit provision, and has recognised that reaching agreement may require compromise from all sides. Potential responses include employers taking on greater levels of risk, stakeholders paying higher contributions, the trustee updating the valuation assumptions and stakeholders agreeing some moderate adjustment to benefits. Any solution is likely to require a combination of these and must be consistent with the statutory and regulatory duties of the USS Trustee and the Pensions Regulator.
"Next week, we will start to consult all USS employers on their views on the panel's recommendations to inform talks with UCU and the USS Trustee. This will include examining employers' willingness to accept greater levels of risk and to pay more into the scheme than their current contribution level of 18% of salary.
"Our engagement with stakeholders will aim to establish which areas highlighted by the panel can be adopted. We look forward to positive discussions with UCU, the USS Trustee and the regulator, so that we can meet our pledge of continuing to offer valuable defined benefits as part of the overall scheme and concluding the 2017 valuation."
The report is available to download on the Joint Expert Panel website.
The Joint Expert Panel is led by independent chair Joanne Segars OBE and has six panel members nominated in equal numbers by UCU and UUK: http://www.ussjep.org.uk/joint-expert-panel-members
USS is one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and is the principal scheme for academic and comparable staff in UK universities and other higher education and research institutions.
Universities UK represents the collective view of more than 350 USS employers. UCU represents the interests of USS members.
Universities UK has established a new website to support employers in their communications with staff on USS: www.ussemployers.org.uk