University Executive Board minutes - 24 November 2020



24 November 2020


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor J Derrick (JD), Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Professor S Hartley (SH), Professor M Hounslow (MJH),  Ms H Fraser-Krauss (HFK), Ms J Jones (JJ), Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DNP), Mr R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor M Vincent (MV), Professor C Watkins (CW)

In attendance:

Dr T Strike (TS), Mr I Wright (IW), Ms T Wray (TW) (Item 2.1), Ms H Morgan (HM) (Item 3)




Dr E Smith (ES)/Ms K Sullivan (KS)

  1. Programme Level Approach

    • (Emma Hartley in attendance for this item)
    • UEB considered an overview of the progress made to date on developing and implementing the Programme Level Approach (PLA), and considered a series of recommendations intended to support the continued embedding of PLA and its transition to business as usual (BAU) once the project closed (anticipated for the end of 2020/21). It was highlighted that, due to the impact of industrial action and COVID-19, the timeframe for embedding PLA had been extended until 2021/22; for 2020/21, Departments and Schools had been asked to continue reviewing the 2019/20 PLA priorities. The paper drew attention to the approach that the PLA Project Team was using to effect the cultural change to bring about PLA, in liaison with FDLTs and FDOs; it also summarised the different stages that Departments and Schools were at in raising awareness of the required changes, developing their PLA plans, and implementing these plans. It was noted that actions to aid Departments’/Schools’ progress with PLA would be discussed as part of Annual Reflection, and that FVPs would have a role in supporting this process.
    • During discussion, UEB welcomed the level of institutional progress made and raised the following points:
      • PLA would be a major vehicle for delivering the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy once it was embedded.
      • Learning and Teaching leadership in Faculties and Departments/Schools had been instrumental in championing PLA and the notion of teaching as a collaborative enterprise, which supported the idea of appointing a PLA Lead in each of the Faculties. The Human Resources Oversight Group would be the most appropriate body to oversee any actions in this regard.
      • Learning and Teaching Managers had been vital to the progress made due to their oversight over operational matters such as assessment deadlines and their impact on the student experience.
      • The student voice was important to PLA in terms of curriculum design and co-production as well as being a principal avenue for feedback and evaluation.
      • The circumstances of COVID-19 had seen accelerated change in Departments and Schools (e.g. in digital education and assessment design).
      • The successful embedding of PLA would require alignment between strategic and operational work on learning and teaching within the Faculties.
      • Some Departments and Schools had used their 2019/20 priorities as the basis for their approach to PLA, the scope of which had been too large to be effective for the purposes of PLA.
    • UEB noted the progress update and approved each of the recommendations set out in the paper.
  2. Student and Staff Support

    • Staff and Student Support: Reward and Recognition
    • UEB considered an update on previously agreed plans to combine the 2020 and 2021 Annual Reward Schemes, which would defer the 2020 round to 2021. This would include a backdated option to 1 January 2021 for promotions and permanent salary increases that would have been approved in 2020, had the 2020 reward schemes run as normal. It was noted that the schemes would be launched in March 2022. Because this would mean a considerable time lag in being able to recognise the exceptional contribution of some colleagues in 2020, particularly in response to the pandemic, the paper also set out a range of options on how the University could recognise exceptional individual contributions and collective efforts of staff, on a one-off basis, in what had been an exceptional year, and in lieu of Christmas celebrations. UEB welcomed the proposal and, after considering the appropriate governance mechanisms and funding options/implications, opted to implement a combination of all the options.
    • UEB agreed to introduce:
      • A one-off reward scheme to recognise and reward specific individuals of any grade, who had performed exceptionally during 2019/20, with a one off, non-consolidated award of £500.
      • A letter of recognition from the Vice-Chancellor to recognise individuals who had made a significant contribution during 2020 and roles which had been the most impacted or under pressure as a result of the pandemic.
      • A one off award of £50 for all staff to recognise that the pandemic had impacted significantly on everyone in a variety of ways. This would be delivered through the Recognition Award Scheme.
  3. Gender Pay Gap

    • UEB considered a report on the University’s Gender Pay Gap data for 2020 with a proposed timeframe for its publication including a timetable for future years. The paper also included a proposed ‘statement of ambition’ for Gender Pay Gap reduction and 5 year targets for the University and Departments to accompany the published figures, proposed by the Gender Pay Gap Working Group following consultation with Faculties and Departments/Schools and feedback from UEB. This was considered alongside a proposed work programme of structural and cultural change projects designed to support these ambitions.
    • UEB welcomed the report and agreed:
      • The proposed publishing cycle for Gender Pay Gap data, including publication of the 2020 data in January 2021 (ahead of the date required under Government regulations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).
      • The proposed cycle for publishing Gender Pay Gap data in future years, in which the data would be presented to UEB in July of each year, ahead of the legislative snapshot data published externally.
      • The proposed ‘statement of ambition’ for Gender Pay Gap elimination as a long-term direction of travel for the University and the proposed 5-year targets for the University and individual Departments/Professional Services,
      • To take forward the revised Gender Pay Gap work programme, outlining priority areas of action for 2020/21 and accompanying measures of success.
  4. Research Quality

    • UEB received and noted an oral update on Research Quality. It was proposed that a paper be developed for discussion at UEB in due course that would (i.) set out a roadmap for delivering research excellence at the University in line with the new Vision and Strategy and (ii.) define the internal and external context underpinning this ambition. At a sector level, attention was drawn to the new leadership of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and a related emphasis on large-scale interdisciplinary projects, both of which could shape the University’s future activities in the research sphere. Following UEB’s discussion of the paper, it was envisaged that an implementation plan would be developed for consideration.
  5. Coronavirus Update

    • General Update
      • KL reported on the planned introduction of local restriction tiers into which regions would be placed on 2 December.
    • Update from the Major Incident Group
      • UEB received and noted the update, which reported on the work undertaken to set up the asymptomatic testing site at The Octagon, and plans to communicate with students about the expected behaviour in relation to tests and returning home in the ‘student travel window’. It was confirmed that deliveries of PPE and testing kits had been received. Students would be offered two tests prior to their return home in the student travel window. To date, the recruitment of staff to support the testing site had been positive; supervisors with clinical experience were in the process of being appointed.
      • With regard to testing, clarification was provided that students’ receipt of two lateral flow tests had been recommended.
      • In relation to the contract, RS noted that, from 15 December, testing providers were no longer expected to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as COVID-19 testing would be exempted as a regulated activity under the Health and Social Care Act 2008. The contract also permitted the University to test other institutions’ students. In this regard, it was proposed that the University extend access to the asymptomatic testing service to USIC and ULaw students.
      • During discussion, UEB noted that there may be some demand for tests from students on clinical placements that would necessitate keeping the testing site open until 18 December.
      • UEB approved the proposal to give USIC and ULaw students access to the asymptomatic testing service.
    • Update from the On Campus Activity Group
      • UEB received and noted the update. The Group had focused its recent discussions on the conclusion of face-to-face teaching in advance of the ‘student travel window’ and a problem with student UCards being issued and collected that was being resolved.
      • During discussion, it was proposed that the Group’s Terms of Reference be amended to reflect that it would meet once a fortnight and that its role was operational and communications-based. It was noted that the existence of different frameworks for returning different groups of staff to the campus would allow the Group to be flexible in responding to changing Government guidance and with regard to both its frequency of meeting and operational focus.
      • UEB endorsed the proposed changes to the Group’s Terms of Reference.
  6. Round Table

    • Collective Grievance: IW updated UEB on a collective grievance from the campus Trade Unions.
    • Sheffield City Council: KL reported that the City Council was holding an open meeting at which the University’s approach to COVID-19 would be one of the items discussed. The University would prepare a statement. 

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