An agreement has been reached between Universities UK (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU) to more talks in an attempt to end strike action over controversial pensions changes.
In a meeting on 27 February, UCU said it listed a set of proposals it believed could resolve the dispute currently disrupting 61 universities.
Commenting on the latest meeting in the year-long series of Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) discussions between employers represented by UUK, and employees represented by the university union, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said its proposals provide the basis for settling the "damaging dispute".
Hunt said: "At the core of our proposals is for universities to accept a small amount of increased risk, but only at a level a majority have recently said they are comfortable with.
"Doing this would enable us to provide a decent, guaranteed pension at a more modest cost with smaller contribution increases."
Hunt added: "Our proposals for long-term reform reflect an attempt to reach a consensus around the challenges we face."
Following initial talks yesterday afternoon, a spokesperson for Universities UK said: "[The] talks have been positive with both employers' representatives and union leaders showing a willingness to work together to address the scheme's financial challenges.
"In the interest of students, we have asked UCU to stop the industrial action while talks continue to find an alternative, viable and affordable solution."
The further talks will be mediated by the conciliation service Acas to bridge the divide between both sides, held on Monday 5 March, while the initial wave of 14 days of strikes affecting universities are set to continue for four days from Monday to conclude with a five-day walkout from Monday 12 to Friday 16 March.
UCU said its plans would provide a guaranteed pension for members of the USS at approximately half the extra cost attributed to the union's previous proposal.
In addition, UCU said it wanted to work with the employers on a number of issues to put USS on a strong footing to avoid similar disputes in the future and called for a review of the competitiveness of USS benefits.
The proposals were drawn from members' demands and ideas put forward by university vice-chancellors.
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