Universities UK is now consulting with Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) employers about a revised mandate ahead of the scheduled Joint Negotiating Committee tomorrow (Wednesday 14 March).
A Universities UK spokesperson said: "It is hugely disappointing that students' education will be further disrupted through continued strike action.
"We have engaged extensively with UCU negotiators to find a mutually acceptable way forward. The jointly developed proposal on the table, agreed at ACAS, addresses the priorities that UCU set out.
"We have listened to the concerns of university staff and offered to increase employer contributions to ensure that all members would receive meaningful defined benefits.
"We recognised concerns raised about the valuation and have agreed to convene an independent expert valuation group.
"Our hope is that UCU can find a way to continue to engage constructively, in the interests of students and those staff who are keen to return to work."
Talks between Universities UK and UCU began at Acas on Monday 5 March 2018 following discussions that started in January 2017. An agreement was reached on Monday 12 March between Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU) on proposals under the auspices of Acas following six days of talks.
As part of the agreement, it was proposed that all USS members would receive defined benefits (DB) up to a £42,000 salary threshold. More than 50% of USS members would continue to have a fully DB pension.
The transitional arrangement would take effect from 1 April 2019, lasting for 3 years. To achieve this interim solution, both employers and members would be required to pay higher contributions. This would include a total employer contribution of 19.3% of salaries and a total member contribution of 8.7%. These increased contributions would only be in place for the duration of the 3-year transitional arrangement.
Given the concerns raised by some employers and UCU about the scheme's valuation methodology and assumptions, an agreement was also reached between UCU and UUK to convene an independent expert valuation group.
Employers views on the proposal are currently being collated.
USS is governed by a clear set of scheme rules. The Joint Negotiating Committee decided upon benefit reform changes on 23 January 2018. The JNC brings together an equal number of representatives from Universities UK and the University and College Union. The JNC has an independent chair who oversees discussions between employer and member representatives, and can choose to cast a deciding vote if agreement between both parties cannot be reached.