UCL Human Resources


Pensions Questions

Below you'll find answers to the Pension questions we get asked the most.

Please also visit your pension schemes’ FAQ pages for specific advice about your scheme.

How do I join a pension scheme?

Pension scheme membership information will be included with your Contract of Employment.  The terms of your Pension Scheme membership are determined by conditions set out in your contract of employment.  Participation in USS and SAUL operates under PensionsExchange (a salary sacrifice scheme).

How do I join a pension scheme if I am not automatically enrolled or would like to re-join?

To join SAUL (up to grade 6) you will need to complete an Opt-in form and forward it to pensions@ucl.ac.uk

To join USS (Grade 6b and above) you will need to email pensions@ucl.ac.uk stating that ‘I confirm I personally submitted this notice to join a workplace pension scheme’. 

Pension Services will then arrange for pension scheme contributions to be deducted from your pensionable salary. 

My contract of employment is for less than 2 years.  Is there anything I should consider in relation to my pension scheme membership?

Under UK pension scheme rules, you can apply for a refund of your contributions when you leave a scheme within 2 years membership (allowing a 28 day notice period) provided you do not contribute via PensionsExchange. Under PensionsExchange a refund of employee contributions is only permitted if you withdraw from membership within 3 months.  The refund will be subject to a tax charge. 

You can opt out of PensionsExchange at the commencement of your employment by completing an ‘Opt out of PensionsExchange Form’ and forwarding it to pensions@ucl.ac.uk

Once you have reached two years membership a refund of your contributions is not available but you will have built up a benefit entitlement in the pension scheme.

What do I pay?

The contribution rates for the pension schemes provided by UCL are:



SAUL (pre 1 April 2023)

SAUL (post 31 March 2023)






5% - 13.5% *






*NHS Employee contributions are tier based using a full-time equivalent pensionable salary.

Employee contributions attract tax relief at the highest rate for which you are liable.  Participation in USS and SAUL operates under PensionsExchange.

How do I opt out of a pension scheme?

You would be required to complete the appropriate pension scheme opt out form in order to withdraw from the scheme.

USS Opt out form (within 3 months of membership)  or Normal Withdrawal Form (membership of 3 months or more).
SAUL Opt Out Form
NHSPS Opt Out Form 

All forms should be forwarded to pensions@ucl.ac.uk  . Please note that withdrawal from a pension scheme results in the loss of tax relief on your contributions and employer contributions (as defined by the pension schemes).  Please consult the scheme websites for further information on the pension scheme benefits.
I have some pension benefits in my previous employer’s pension scheme, what are my options?

You can request a Transfer-In quotation if you are a member of USS by completing a USS Transfer-in request form and forwarding it to pensions@ucl.ac.uk. A completed form provides consent for USS to contact your former schemes to obtain a transfer value and issue a transfer quotation to you. You can then determine if you wish to proceed with the transfer. SAUL does not accept transfers in from other pension schemes. 

I am interested in paying Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) into the scheme to increase my retirement benefits.  Where do I find out more and how much extra can I pay?

Further information on AVC options can be found on the USS, SAUL & NHS websites.  You receive tax relief on AVCs at the same rate as your standard scheme contributions. 

I am going on Maternity Leave, what happens to my pension?

Information about Maternity Leave can be found on the USS, SAUL & NHS websites.  You can also refer to the UCL policy on Parental Leave.

What happens when I leave UCL?

The pension scheme will send a deferred benefit statement to your home address within 2 months of you leaving the scheme.  The statement will detail your overall benefits within the scheme up to the date of leaving.  

I am leaving UCL and going overseas.  Can I transfer my pension to an overseas scheme?

The overseas pension scheme would have to be an HMRC Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) before a transfer could take place. 

I am considering retiring from UCL.  Where can I find out more?

Further information about all retirement options and benefits and how they are calculated is available on USS, SAUL and NHS websites. You can request a retirement quotation by sending an email to pensions@ucl.ac.uk

Where can I find out more about the USS Flexible Retirement arrangement?

In the first instance, you can refer to the USS factsheet on Flexible Retirement.  You can also refer to the UCL Flexible Retirement Process.

How do I get independent financial advice? 

UCL Pension Services are able to provide you with information relating to your pension scheme membership and benefits.  However, it is acknowledged that some aspects of pensions are complex, and you are presented with difficult decisions to make. 

It is recommended that if you need financial advice, you contact an independent financial adviser, particularly if you anticipate that the value of your benefits including those from non-UCL pension arrangements, if any, will be close to or exceed the reduced Lifetime Allowance limit, or if you have issues related to the Annual Allowance/Pension Input Period.