Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Review of Statutes Section 6 mean for me?

Academic (Teaching & Research) Staff Teaching or Research Staff

All Other Staff

Section 6 of the Statutes have been updated and simplified. This process has ensured that the revised Statutes meet the current employment law requirements and all academic staff and their managers can be more confident in their use. Associated policies and procedures which may link to the principles of academic freedom have been revised and you are encouraged to familiarise yourself with their content.

The principles of academic freedom, which previously only applied to academic staff, have been extended to teaching staff and research staff. Associated policies and procedures which may link to the principles of academic freedom have been revised and you are encouraged to familiarise yourself with their content.

Section 6 of the Statutes is relevant to all staff employed by the University of Sheffield.  Put simply, it means that the University will have in place a framework of employment policies and procedures which encapsulate the principles described within Section 6 of the Statutes (e.g. equality and diversity; justice and fairness; efficiency; academic freedom for academic, research and teaching staff).

What are the main changes from the Review of Section 6?

A summary of the outcomes of the review of Statute Section 6 are as followed:
  • The guiding principles of Section 6 have been extended to apply to all staff (with the exception of academic freedom);
  • The protection of academic freedom has been extended to cover academic, teaching and research staff;
  • A new guiding principle has been included to "seek to advance the principles of equality and diversity";
  • The procedural details have been moved into the University's relevant employment procedures.

What employment procedures have been changed?

The University and its recognised trade unions (UCU, UNISON, Unite and GMB) have agreed revisions to the following procedures, with effect from 1 February 2014:

In line with the changes to these procedures, the guidance within the Managing Performance Toolkit and the Dispute Resolution Toolkit has been updated accordingly. Your faculty HR team will be able to assist you with any new cases under these revised procedures.

In addition, the University and its recognised trade unions are working closely together on the following:

  • Research Misconduct
  • Academic Probation
  • Some Other Substantial Reason (SOSR)

What do we understand academic freedom to be or to include?

Academic freedom is about ensuring that staff in academic roles have the freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges.  In relation to the employment of academic staff, the principle of academic freedom needs to be considered when certain employment procedures are applied; e.g. disciplinary, capability, redundancy etc.

What does it mean to be a Chartered Institution with its own Charter, Statutes and Regulations?

Chartered Institutions are autonomous bodies, separate from the State, with the right to self-govern. The Charter and Statutes are internal rules which govern how a Chartered Institution is to be run, and they can only be changed by an application to Privy Council. The University of Sheffield is a Chartered Institution.  The University's new Charter, Statute and Regulations are available at: www.shef.ac.uk/calendar

Background: Review of the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances (2012/13)

Question Answer
Why did the University seek to change the University Statutes?

The review has its origins in the most recent Council Effectiveness Review, which recommended a review of the University's governance sub-structure and specifically:

  • that the Charter and Statutes be modernised; and
  • that the supporting Ordinances and Regulations of Council also be revised, particularly to reflect more clearly how Council's powers are delegated to other committees and to individuals.
What was the purpose, scope and expectations for the  review of Statutes? The background to and rationale for the review, as well as its scope, timescale and process are set out in a paper to Council, the link to this paper is: Oct 2012 Council paper 
What is Privy Council? Please see The Privy Council Office website for further information.
What consultation took place within the University?

A consultation sub-group was created to consult with Sheffield University and College Union (SUCU) in relation to the review of Section 6 of the Statutes.  The scope of this sub-group was to:

  • Understand the current limitations of the Statutes (Section 6) in their current form;
  • Explore alternative options for a revised approach which will need to be: legally compliant; sustainable; consistent with University and HR Strategy, policy and procedures;
  • Consider the coverage of the Statutes, and possibilities for extending its coverage to other staff groups as appropriate.

These consultation meetings took place monthly, throughout the review period, and during these meetings SUCU represented the view of the staff covered by the Statutes. 

Additionally, consideration of the proposals took place in the University Executive Board, the sub group of University Council and by the Equality and Diversity Board.

What consultation took place with individuals affected by the proposed changes? A consultation booklet was made available which provided staff with an outline of the scope of the project and invited them to take the opportunity during the consultation period (18 February 2013 to 15 March 2013) to provide feedback in relation to the project. The feedback received was thoroughly considered and enabled to group to seek acceptable solutions to the concerns raised.