University Executive Board minutes - 27 April 2021



27 April 2021


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), Mrs T Wray (TW), Mrs V Jackson (Item 1), Mr A Carlile (Item 2), Mrs L Carlile (Item 3), Mr D Barcroft (Items 3 and 4), Mr R Gower (Item 5)




Mr M Borland (MB)/Dr E Smith (ES)

  1. Closed Minute and Paper

  2. OfS Consultation on Recurrent Funding for 2021/22

    • (Al Carlile in attendance for this item)
    • UEB considered a paper that provided an overview of the OfS consultation which sought views on proposals about how the OfS would distribute recurrent funding for 2021-22 and proposed changes to the terms and conditions of funding 2021-22. The paper provided a draft response from the University. It was highlighted that the consultation was focused on how the OfS would distribute funding, not on government funding decisions.
    • UEB approved the proposed response to the consultation.
  3. Draft Response to the DfE Post Qualification Admissions Consultation

    • (Dan Barcroft and Liz Carlile in attendance for this item)
    • UEB considered a draft response to the DfE consultation on changes to the Higher Education admissions system, specifically from the current undergraduate admissions system to a ‘post-qualifications’ approach. Attention was drawn to the University’s response.. It was noted that neither of the two models, Post-Qualification Applications and Post Qualification Offers, proposed in the consultation would fully address the issues identified as in need of resolving.
    • UEB approved the draft response to the consultation.
  4. University-Wide Study Abroad Provision

    • (Dan Barcroft in attendance for this item)
    • UEB considered a paper that proposed streamlining the portfolio to provide a single clear marketing message across all undergraduate programmes regarding Study Abroad opportunities.
    • During discussion it was clarified that the proposals were compatible with the approach to portfolio review. Further detail would be required on the Turing Scheme in order to fully assess how the proposed plans would work alongside the Turing Scheme.
    • UEB members approved the following proposed changes to Study Abroad provision for 2022 entry onwards:
      • All undergraduate programmes should include the option to study a year abroad for 2022 entry onwards.
      • Any programmes that already include ‘with a year abroad’ (or a variation of) within the course title should be removed from the portfolio for 2022 entry.
      • For any students studying a year abroad, this will extend the length of their programme by one year and the year abroad will be assessed as pass/fail only.
  5. Review of Department Executive Teams

    • (Rob Gower in attendance for this item)
    • UEB considered proposals from the Academic Workforce Planning Group concerning the introduction of consistent roles and structures for Academic Departmental Executive Teams. The current position across the institution and the specific recommendations and accompanying next steps were set out in the related paper. It was highlighted that there was significant variation between Departments/Schools in respect of the constitution of their Executive Teams and these teams’ functions and levels of performance and impact. For staff in leadership positions, there were substantial differences in their workload allocation and accountability for delivering change. UEB noted that the proposals were consistent with the One University pillar of the University’s Vision and Strategy (2020-2025) and were intended to drive a consistent and efficient approach to academic leadership in Departments/School that would deliver critical support to Heads of Department, retain expertise in senior positions, and aid leadership succession planning.
    • During discussion, UEB raised the following points:
      • The Deputy position could mitigate against the risk of the Head of Department being a single point of failure.
      • The sustainability and ED&I briefs associated with the One University Director role could enable these matters to assume greater strategic importance in Departmental/School planning.
      • Having a consistent set of roles in each Executive Team should help to ensure teams had a consistent scope and the individual roles consistent and transparent expectations attached to them, even if individual workload allocations were a matter for local agreement and could therefore differ between teams.
      • The roles would be tied to the ACP leadership criteria.
      • As the proposed roles were based on existing positions with Executive Teams, there was not anticipated to be an additional cost associated with their formation and the corresponding work allocation.
      • Some smaller Departments/Schools could struggle to appoint to all of the Executive Team roles, which would warrant closer working with those in Faculty leadership positions. In such cases, the general expectation of the Executive Team would be retained, recognising that there could be slight differences in scope.
    • UEB:
      • Approved the proposals and next steps set out in the related paper.
      • Noted that the paper formed one of a suite of connected projects outlined in the ‘Academic Workforce Planning Proposals’ of 17 August 2020, which complemented the ‘One University’ pillar of the University Vision, and supported delivery of the ‘Research’, Education’ and ‘Innovation’ pillars
  6. Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

    • UEB considered proposals relating to the UK Government’s extension of ATAS requirements, which had been applicable to research students only, to cover skilled worker and temporary worker visa applications with effect from 21 May 2021. Although guidance from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) was still expected, it was clear that the change would impact on the University’s recruitment processes, with particular regard to contract renewal and extension, and that there would be additional requirements both within academic Departments/Schools and for the individual members of staff concerned. It was estimated that around 75% of the University’s current sponsored members of academic staff and researchers would be subject to the new ATAS requirements. The risks to the University of not complying with its responsibilities included the potential loss of its sponsor licence. 
    • During discussion, clarification was provided that, in the event that the University underwrote a contract extension for a sponsored member of staff working on research project that ultimately did not continue, the notice period in the contract would be activated. It was highlighted that the requirement for ATAS certificate applicants to provide detailed information about their research activity could be seen to pose a significant challenge to their academic freedom. To manage the administrative burdens on Departments/Schools, Principal Investigators (PIs) of research projects, and ATAS applicants themselves, it was envisaged that the bulk of the application process would be overseen within HR.
    • UEB:
      • Agreed the proposal to underwrite the cost of contract extensions from core budgets where grant funding was not yet finalised (within four months of expiry) to ensure sufficient time for sponsored members of staff to apply for and receive as ATAS certificate.
      • Agreed to promote the need for effective workforce planning and grant management and support the implementation of necessary process changes with Heads of Departments and PIs.
  7. AMRC-TC Apprenticeship Proposals

    • UEB considered two proposed Level 3 apprenticeships, one proposed Level 4 apprenticeship, and two proposed Level 6 apprenticeships relating to the AMRC-TC. It was noted that the apprenticeships were designed to enable the AMRC-TC to expand its provision but were not anticipated to lead to a significant increase in recruitment levels.
    • During discussion, UEB welcomed the involvement of large employers in some of the apprenticeships proposals, which could aid their ongoing robustness.
    • UEB:
      • Recommended to the President and Vice Chancellor that the apprenticeship proposal was approved in principle.
      • Noted that the course was subject to the standard University course approval process.
  8. Meeting of UEB Strategic Advisory Group - Student Numbers and Fees

    • (Meeting Held on 18 March 2021)
    • UEB approved the report, including:
      • SAG SNF’s updated Terms of Reference and Membership, to support governance role it would occupy in the processes concerning course approval, delivery, and review as agreed by UEB at its meeting on 16 February 2021.
      • Recommendations relating to the setting of 2022/23 tuition fees for overseas UG, home PGY, overseas PGT, and overseas PGR students, as detailed in the related paper.
    • UEB noted other work detailed in the report, including a student recruitment, marketing, and admissions update.
  9. Meeting of UEB IT Sub-Group

    • (Meeting Held on 24 March 2021)
    • UEB approved the report, and noted:
      • The changes to the members of IT Services staff in attendance at meetings of the Sub-Group, reflected in the updated Terms of Reference and Membership.
      • The Sub-Group’s approval in principle of the Technology Enabled Strategic Framework (TESF) Phase 3 proposal, subject to work to refine the deliverables. The proposal would be presented to UEB as a substantive paper at its meeting on 25 May 2021.
      • The Sub-Group’s receipt of a report from the Interim Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) on the cyber security threat landscape and the measures that the University was employing to encounter such threats.
  10. Coronavirus Update

    • Update from the Major Incident Group
      • It was pleasing to note that staff and student numbers were low. It was reported that the Department for Education (DfE) was preparing a proposal for the UK Government that would permit universities to manage quarantine arrangements for students from ‘red list’ countries. A decision from the Government was expected in due course. UEB agreed that the University would be interested in quarantining this group of students subject to the proposal being approved. It was confirmed that ACS was exploring the scope for both university residences and some private providers to offer accommodation for quarantining purposes.
      • UEB discussed two proposals relating to the use of the COVID-19 Support Fund, and approved:
        • The continuing use of the fund for quarantine costs for post-study work visas, which were expected to increase after the UK Government’s expected announcement on 17 May about the return of all students to campus.
        • A change to the use of the fund with effect from 1 August, under which requests for laptops would revert to being made via the Hardship Fund, which was means tested.
  11. Round Table

    • Media coverage: KL provided an update on recent media reports regarding the University’s teaching of Isaac Newton’s ideas.
    • Student occupation: KL gave an update regarding the student occupation of part of the Arts Tower.
    • Council nominations: TS reported on changes to the membership of Council from the end of July.
    • Northern Gritstone: DP reported that Northern Gritstone has launched and there had been positive social media coverage.
    • School of Languages and Cultures: SF provided an update and UEB reaffirmed its support for the process and the way that the process had been followed.
    • Staffing: RS gave an update on changes to Professional Services director posts

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