The combination of pensions freedoms, reforms to the Universities’ Superannuation Scheme (USS) and The Teachers’ Pension, relatively low pay awards in recent years and the fact more academic staff now work on a sessional or contract basis means there is a huge education piece to be had around finance and financial management within higher education.
The University of Lincoln employs 1,500 core staff and around the same number again on temporary, visiting or sessional contracts. Ian Hodson, reward and benefits manager at the University of Lincoln, says: “We have really tried to embed financial wellbeing as being a strand of wellbeing generally, alongside physical and mental [wellbeing].”
In conjunction with provider Wealth at Work, the university runs four different types of tailored workshop twice a year, aimed at employees early in their career, mid-career, those closer to retirement and one for more senior staff.
“We encourage [employees] to take their own actions; it is more than just keeping track of [their] pension, it is ‘do you want to join our additional voluntary contributions (AVC) scheme, go into the USS or bring together a range of different pensions perhaps?’” says Hodson. “It is about looking at whether what [they] already have, or are doing, is going to be enough to meet [their] financial aspirations.”
The programme has proved so popular that, from this academic year, it has been extended to the university’s student population, with three programmes, each tailored to each student year.
“We recognised we actually employ a lot of our students too so things such as pensions auto-enrolment can become a factor,” says Hodson. “Often students will decide to opt out but we don’t want that to become the default, knee-jerk reaction when they come out into the jobs market. It is about getting them to think about the bigger picture, beyond just the salary.”