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USS appoints Kate Barker as chair

Image: USS

Economist to take over from University of Birmingham vice-chancellor in summer

Kate Barker has been named as the next chair of the Universities Superannuation Scheme Trustee Board.

Barker’s career has seen her serve as chief economic adviser to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. She received a damehood in 2014 for services to the economy.

Barker will take over from outgoing chair David Eastwood, vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, in August.

“It is a real privilege to be invited to take up this role,” she said in a statement. “I am well aware of just how important this pension scheme is to university staff past and present. In addition, the performance of the scheme and its effective management is significant for much of the university sector.

“I look forward to working with the other trustees and indeed with all of the dedicated staff at USS.”

With funds of more than £68 billion, the USS is the country’s largest private pension scheme. It is the subject of an ongoing industrial dispute, with employers and employees at odds over how an increase in contributions should be paid for.

Union members at just under 50 institutions participated in eight days of strike action over proposed changes to the scheme in November and December, with further strikes threatened in the spring.

Outgoing chair Eastwood said it had been “an honour and a privilege to be involved with, and lead, such an important and successful organisation over the past decade”.

“We were very pleased with the quality of the shortlist, but Kate’s remarkable professional career and knowledge of the higher education sector make for an outstanding appointment,” he added. “I look forward to working closely with her over the coming months to achieve a seamless succession.”