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£17.5bn pension gap for universities.

£17.5bn pension gap for universities.

Universities face a new blow to their finances after the main pension fund deficit soared to £17.5bn.

The Universities Superannuation Scheme now has the largest pensions deficit of any UK pension fund after it increased by £9bn last year.

One expert said student fees may have to rise or be diverted from teaching.

But a USS spokesperson said the pensions were "secure, backed by a solid investment portfolio and the strength of sponsoring employers."

The USS funds pensions for academics who are mostly based in the pre-1992 universities, and has more than 390,000 members.

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