University clears deficit with staff layoffs and controversial pension cuts

Tarini Tiwari and Alejandro Javierre 24 March 2021

Image by: Marianne Martin

The University of Kent has cleared up their £60.1 million deficit into a surplus of £12.3 million, according to their latest financial statement.

The primary source of this income was, according to the document, due to decreases in the pension contributions for the University after changes from the 2018 University Superannuation Scheme were put into effect - changes which were widely condemned by staff at Universities across the country in 2018 and 2019 and led to on-campus strikes in 2018.

The pension changes, which were the cause of staff strikes in 2018 and 2019, saved the University £33.8 million in 2019.

A statement by the University of Kent’s spokesperson said: “The difference between the two years is largely due to a national revaluation of the USS pension scheme, which greatly reduced the deficit liability universities in the scheme had to report in their accounts.”

This USS pension scheme is a workplace pension scheme founded to aid university staff in saving for retirement.

The statement also cites that the University made a £6.5 million surplus as a direct result of the suspension of services due to the national lockdown.

The document continues by saying “One such action [against a continuing financial squeeze] was the launch of the Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme (‘KVSS’) in April 2019. Phase 1 of the scheme, in 2018/19, saw 147 staff leave, with a further 166 departures agreed during 2019/20.”

While the statement reports that the severance scheme led to a net loss of £10 million, it will involve reduced staff costs in subsequent years.

In a press release, the University said: “Currently, we are firmly focused on ensuring the University remains financially sustainable by growing our income into the future.

“This will help ensure we have the stability necessary to deliver the outstanding teaching, research and innovation, and student experience for which Kent has long been renowned.”

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