Sheffield lecturers balloted over pension row

Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary
Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary
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Lecturers at Sheffield University are being balloted for industrial action in a new dispute over proposed changes to pensions.

A report by the University and College Union says staff at Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam will have very different retirement packages if the reforms go through.

Academics at The University of Sheffield could have a pension which is 36 per cent worse than colleagues at Hallam, the UCU claims - with those at Hallam getting almost £20,000 a year more.

Staff at the universities are members of different schemes, a hangover from the days when Hallam and other ‘new’ universities were polytechnics.

Balloting is taking place in 68 universities, including all 24 of the elite Russell Group to which Sheffield University belongs. It closes on October 20.

The UCU says it will be asking members to back plans for a marking boycott and to refuse to set exams. The action would mean students would not be set coursework or receive formal marks and feedback, and exams would be halted.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “If these radical changes are forced through we will have lecturers in Sheffield with wildly different deals when they retire. The elite institutions often boast about being the leading lights of the sector. But if these changes go through they will be bottom of the table for pensions.”