University Executive Board minutes - 21 April 2020



21 April 2020


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor J Derrick (JD), Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Professor S Hartley (SH), Professor M J Hounslow (MJH), J Jones (JJ), Professor W Morgan (WM), Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DNP), R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor C Watkins (CW)

In attendance:

Dr T Strike (TS), Mr E Smith (ES), Ms T Wray (TW), Mr I Wright (IW), Mr A Carlile (AC)(item 2)


Dr T Strike (TS), Professor Susan Bridgeford (item 2)


K Sullivan (KS) / D Swinn (DS)

  1. Minutes of UEB Held on 18 February 2020

    • The minutes were approved as an accurate record.
  2. Student Wellbeing Service

    • (Susan Bridgeford in attendance for this item)
    • UEB received a presentation on the Student Wellbeing Service. The following was highlighted:
      • The service would address a gap in early stage support identified in the Mental Health Strategy Action Plan.
      • Significant mapping work had been undertaken to understand and address varying levels of student wellbeing support across faculties; there was now good oversight of this and the new service linked into existing support.
      • The service would aim to be proactive, to provide preventative support through educating and enabling students to manage their emotional wellbeing and succeed at university; prevention and early-stage intervention were key.
      • Students would be provided with practical advice on how to cope and thrive and would be connected to support networks, enabling them to stay well.
      • The service would work collaboratively across other services including SAMHS, DDSS, the counselling service, University Health Service and pathways into secondary care in the NHS.
      • 10 new staff, with wellbeing experience, would be distributed across academic departments.
      • Periodic service evaluations and satisfaction surveys would be carried out in conjunction with other services.
    • UEB welcomed the update and recognised the significant work undertaken to develop the Student Wellbeing plans. UEB endorsed the direction of travel, noting that the service would support the ‘One University’ strategy and vision to ensure a health promoting environment.
  3. Coronavirus Update

    • UK Higher Education (HE) Sector
      • UEB noted that there were several ongoing policy developments within the UK Government pertaining to HE in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The University continued to work closely with both Universities UK (UUK) and the Russell Group to keep abreast of these developments and to leverage its influence in respect of them, where possible.
    • Job Retention Scheme

      • ​​​​​​Following confirmation that Higher Education (HE) providers were eligible to participate in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), subject to specific conditions, work was underway to develop a proposal for the University to access the scheme. A proposal would be brought to the next meeting.

    • Modelling the Financial Costs of PGR Extensions
      • UEB was updated on a modelling exercise underway to understand the costs associated with providing PGR students with funded extensions to cover disruption to their research due to COVID-19. This work followed the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announcement that final-year UKRI-funded students who had not yet submitted their doctoral thesis were eligible for an extension of up to 6 months in duration. An update would be brought to a future meeting.
    • Student Recruitment

      • Further to previous updates in respect of scenarios for the 2020/21 academic year, UEB noted that maximising student recruitment remained a key priority. Discussions were ongoing with Faculties and Departments to monitor the position and better understand the kind support needed.

  4. New Foundation Years Proposals - DLL

    • UEB considered the proposed new Foundation Year Pathways. It was highlighted that numbers on DLL degrees with Foundation Year had risen from 25 in 2014 to 145 in 2019. Whilst demand for individual pathways fluctuated from year to year, recruitment to similar programmes in other institutions, and admissions enquiries within DLL, indicated that all proposed new pathways would be attractive to mature students. UEB noted that students registered onto these new pathways would all be taught alongside the existing Foundation Year student cohort within DLL. 
    • UEB approved the proposal in principle subject to the standard University course approval process.
  5. Report of the UEB Estates and Capital Sub-Group

    • (Meeting held on 16 March 2020)
    • UEB received and approved the report. The following were highlighted:
      • Capital Pipeline Prioritisation Group: UEB noted that in light of the worsening of the Codvid-19 pandemic and uncertainty around its impact on the University’s operations and its financial implications, consideration of a number of reports had been deferred pending review, including review of the capital pipeline and prioritisation plans.
      • Quad Maintenance – UEB noted that ESCG had approved the complete removal of the air raid shelters under the quad courtyard at Firth Court, subject to an affordability review in the context of wider capital prioritisation work.
      • Disposal Strategy – UEB noted some live offers reported in the last ECSG report had been lost due to delays in the ability to confirm authorisation and respond. To mitigate the loss of future sales, UEB approved a recommendation from ECSG to delegate authority to the Director of Infrastructure to approve sales within a 10% tolerance of the approved asking price; Where this exceeded ECSG’s financial approval threshold, off-line approval would be sought. All delegated and off-line approvals would be reported appropriately through the governance framework.
  6. Round Table

    • Professional Services Senior Leadership: It was noted that in order to strengthen the focus of communications a new Director of Corporate Communications was to be appointed.
    • Virtual Applicant Open Days: MH reported that the Virtual Applicant Open Day in the Faculty of Engineering had been well received, had experienced high levels of attendance and engagement and excellent feedback. UEB recorded thanks to Student Recruitment and Admissions for its assistance in administering the Virtual Applicant Open Days.
    • PGR Extensions: SH noted that PGR students were experiencing significant anxiety about extensions. It was important to communicate an agreed approach to them as soon as possible.
    • Financial Forecasts: JJ gave an update on progress with financial forecasts.

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