UK universities offered access to master trust arrangement

Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh are among the employers that have been given access to a master trust framework.

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The Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) managed a tender process for more than 200 institutions in the UK’s higher and further education sector.

A large number of university and college employees will continue to participate in defined benefit pension arrangements, but the procurement allows institutions the option to provide retirement savings on a flexible defined contribution (DC) basis.

The master trust, which is provided by Mercer, allows the universities and colleges to use a pre-tendered and assessed pension plan without the need to conduct separate procurement processes.

The aim of the framework is to save time, effort and costs, while avoiding the enrolment of staff into several different DC pension schemes as their careers develop.

Emma Nicholson, special projects manager at APUC, said: “The assessors felt [the Mercer master trust] would offer the sector competitive high-quality pension provision, robust independent governance and value for money.

“The new arrangement has been designed to offer a flexible [product] to the sector and staff that are in scope of the scheme.”