I started working for a UK uni and they enrolled me into a pension scheme. They say they will contribute “5%”. 5 per cent of what? Is it my gross salary? My net? Also, will I get that if I opt out of the pension scheme? Is that 5% the only reason for being in a pension scheme? I’m sorry, I’m an immigrant an really do not understand why in the world would I give part of my money to someone who won’t give it back to me until I’m old. Why do people do it? Just for that 5%?

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    What do you plan to live on when you are retired? I plan on living a long time…
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 19, 2022 at 4:18
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    Normal university pension schemes in UK are of the form: if you are paid X gross, then you contribute x% of X [and the tax folk won't charge you tax on that] and the university contributes y% of X (but not taken from your salary); I think usually y=2x approx. If you opt out you don't pay the x% of X but the university doesn't hand over to you another y% of X. But you really need proper financial advice. Nov 19, 2022 at 10:00
  • Read this for a start: legalandgeneral.com/retirement/pensions/pensions-explained
    – Oliver882
    Nov 19, 2022 at 10:17
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    You should ask HR for details of your pension scheme. No you don't get the 5%if you opt out. If you don't pay into a pension how will you pay for your retirement? The UK state pension is not enough to live on.
    – atom44
    Nov 19, 2022 at 13:34
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    @JochenGlueck I am not an expert so no one should trust my opinion. But I don't think that is right. Firstly the state pension does not get used up. For other types of pension there are several options, listed under How do I take my pension. These include "Get a guaranteed income for life by using your pension pot to purchase an annuity" and "Cash in your pension pot and take all of the money as cash" and several others.
    – Oliver882
    Nov 19, 2022 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


For UK workplace pensions you need to first read this: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions

Employers are required by law to provide a pension scheme (and to auto enroll you with an opt out option). This is in addition to the state pension which comes out of your taxes.

The only reason to opt out would be if you plan to leave within the next 3 years or so and to not come back, otherwise you will need that money when you retire. If you are going down that route, you need to make sure that you invest the extra cash (i.e. your part of the pension contribution, you won't get the employer contribution) in whatever country you expect to retire to. Though, as someone who has private (as opposed to state) pensions in three countries, I still plan to get my money out of all of them when I retire, the extra money from the employer easily makes up for the administrative overhead.
University pensions in the UK are usually one of the better schemes (and unlikely to go bust), so opting out would be a mistake in all but the most specialist cases. If you do decide to do this, don't get your advice from random people off the Internet though.

  • that’s ridiculous, how do you know I’ll need the money when I retire? Not everybody is poor!
    – user354948
    Nov 22, 2022 at 12:18
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    If you are independently wealthy why are you bothered about the pension contributions? Nov 25, 2022 at 9:44
  • I’m not that wealthy. But if I were I would still be bothered because of two reasons: 1) it’s my money. That’s how you get to be wealthy, by bothering about your money. And 2) they enrol you without your consent?
    – user354948
    Nov 26, 2022 at 10:16

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