University Executive Board minutes - 1 December 2020
1 December 2020
Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor J Derrick (JD), Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Ms H Fraser-Krauss (HFK); Professor S Hartley (SH), Professor M J Hounslow (MJH), Ms J Jones (JJ), Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DP), Mr R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor M Vincent (MV), Professor C Watkins (CW)
Mr I Wright (IW); Dr T Strike (TS); Professor J Brazier (JB) (item 1); Dr D Forrest (DF) (item 1); Miss G Hague (GH) (item 1); Professor J Kirby (JK) (item 1); Mr J Weir (JW) (item 1); Mr D Barcroft (DB) (item 2); Mrs L Carlile (LC) (item 2); Mrs L McCarthy (LM) (item 2)
Mr N Button (NB) / Mr M Borland (MB)
Closed Minute and Paper
- (Mr D Barcroft, Mrs L Carlile & Mrs L McCarthy in attendance for this item)
- Student Recruitment Update
- UEB received and noted an update on student recruitment for the 2021/22 academic year, based on data as of 15 November. It was noted that applicant behaviour had changed as a result of factors such as digital fatigue, engagement with schools having been more challenging as a result of the pandemic, and some UCAS dates having changed.
- During discussion, UEB raised and noted the following:
- There would be soon be additional staffing capacity in Student Recruitment & Admissions Covid related uncertainty was likely to continue for this round of applications.
- UEB considered a proposal to merge the three Bioscience Departments in the Faculty of Science into a new School of Bioscience. If agreed by UEB, it would be submitted to Senate for approval on 16 December, with the discussion led by the three Heads of Department.
During discussion, UEB raised and noted the following points:
- The proposal had so far not met with any objection from the University’s Trade Unions.
- The driver for change was in recruiting more high quality students with a stronger and more holistic educational offer.
- Changes in some staff roles was the basis for a local VS scheme
- The recruitment of a permanent HoD would include external advertising.
- The proposal created an opportunity for developing a critical mass of research excellence, with interdisciplinary collaboration, within the new School of Bioscience.
- UEB approved the proposal to create a School of Bioscience, which would be presented to Senate on 16 December. UEB also approved the creation of a local VS scheme, noting the context in which it was being proposed.
- UEB considered the results of a consultation on the IHRA working definition of antisemitism, along with three options relating to the adoption of the definition. This was in the context of intervention by the Secretary of State for Education asking universities to adopt the IHRA working definition. It was noted that this would ultimately be a Council decision. Attention was drawn to the Task and Finish Group that had been set up by the University’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee (EDIC) in 2019 to initiate a University-wide consultation on experiences of exclusion concerning race and ethnicity in relation to religion and belief. This consultation was not scheduled to end until March 2021, after the deadline by which the Secretary of State had requested responses to his letter. Therefore, an additional process to seek views on the IHRA definition had been established in order to invite feedback from groups across the University to inform a decision by Council.
During discussion, UEB raised and noted the following points:
- The Secretary of State had asked universities to respond to his letter asking them to adopt the definition before Christmas.
- The wider consultation on experiences of religious and ethnic groups was ongoing and would lead to EDIC developing a comprehensive University Religion and Belief Equality Strategy.
- Adoption of the definition did not preclude wider work on ensuring inclusion within the University community.
- Concerns about academic freedom and political advocacy could be effectively addressed through mitigating actions.
UEB noted the request from the Secretary of State for Education and noted its preference for the second option contained in the paper, namely that: the University adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism; and have due regard for it in developing strategy, policy, and procedures, while putting in place actions to mitigate the concerns around academic freedom and the impact on other groups.
- UEB considered proposed Standing Orders for Council and Senate.
- During discussion, UEB noted that having a guide to the practice and processes for Council and Senate would be valuable. It was suggested that it would be beneficial to retain some flexibility within the documents, e.g. to allow for the circulation of late papers where that was unavoidable, subject to the discretion of the Chair.
- UEB endorsed the proposed Standing Orders for Council and Senate for onward presentation to those bodies for approval.
- UEB considered a report on whether the University Secretary should seek to review the ad-hoc groups currently in existence, where appropriate seeking to formalise them through Council, Senate, or UEB.
- During discussion, it was recognised that ad-hoc groups could meet more frequently than formal committees could and provide agility, but their function was often advisory or operational and their activity should reflect that.
- UEB agreed that it was not necessary to undertake a review at this time. UEB also agreed to better document the ad-hoc groups that existed, their membership, and their broad purpose.
- (Meeting held on 5 November)
- UEB considered the report
- UEB approved requirements in relation to International Automatic Scholarships.
- UEB also noted the following: a registrations update; a Recruitment, Marketing, and Admissions update on 2021 entry; ELTC recruitment plans for 2021; Ad-Hoc fees; and an update on the UG online prospectus migration.
- General Update
- Guidance regarding the return of students to higher education institutions in January was awaited.
- Update from Major Incident Team
- UEB received and noted the update. The University’s Testing Centre had been set up at the Octagon. Funding had been received to enable it to open until 9 December, but it was possible additional funding would be available for it to remain open for a longer period.
- It was clarified that students would be offered two tests. It would be legal for students to travel outside of the travel window, but this would go against the current government guidance.
- Update from the On Campus Activity Group
- UEB received an update and considered the proposed actions. Attention was drawn to the planning required for Semester 2 and an increase in face-to-face teaching.
- UEB agreed:
- To undertake further work developing communications.
- To include an update on the UEB / HoDs agenda at its meeting on Wednesday 2 December.
- To repeat messaging regarding assessment.
- The decision to amend the On Campus Activity Group Terms of Reference and that the frequency of meetings be reduced to fortnightly, rather than weekly.
- Forward-looking messaging to students regarding study spaces now and into 2021.
- FVP Update
- There were no specific FVP updates.
- General Update
- UEB received and noted a report, following a request for information at a UEB Away Day. The report summarised all Recruitment Advisory Panel cases submitted between 20 April 2020 and 2 November 2020.
AMBA: The Association of MBAs (AMBA), which ran an accreditation service, had given the University’s Management School a five-year approval.
UEB Away Day: KL reported on plans for the forthcoming UEB Away Day.
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