University Executive Board minutes - 9 March 2021



9 March 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), Mrs T Wray (TW), Mr I Wright (IW)




Dr E Smith (ES)/Mr D Swinn (DS)

  1. Closed Minute and Paper

  2. Closed Minute and Paper

  3. SU Constitutional Review

    • UEB considered the outcomes from the review of the Sheffield Students’ Union (SU) Constitution, which the Education Act (1994) required HEIs to conduct on a quinquennial basis alongside providing ongoing assurance that the SU had a written Constitution. Members noted that a Task and Finish Group had been convened to lead the review, to which Shakespeare Martineau had provided advisory support. The review established that Council’s obligations under the Education Act were being appropriately and adequately discharged with two minor exceptions, set out in the related paper. Attention was drawn to the review’s recommendations both to the SU and University management, including that the SU pursue legal incorporation. A UEB position on this question, including the scope for the University to financially support the SU’s incorporation, was sought ahead of Council’s meeting on 26 April 2021.
    • During discussion, UEB raised the following points:
      • The EDAS and EDCS would contribute to the recommended development of criteria identifying the SU’s or University’s (Sport Sheffield’s) responsibilities for each club and society and these bodies’ consistent application of the relevant owning organisation’s policies and procedures.
      • The recommendation for the Student Administration Service to draw certain matters to the attention of students on registration would be challenging to implement at this stage due to the surplus of information that registering students tended to receive. In this regard, an equalities audit led by the VPE would be coordinated.
    • UEB approved a series of recommendations, as set out in the related paper, including actions to draw student’s attention to a number of matters as required by the Education Act (1994) and amendments to the composition and terms of reference of UEB Health and Safety Committee.
    • Actions:
      • To discuss the clubs and societies recommendation identified above.
      • To review the Student Contract signed at Registration as part of an equalities audit.
  4. Closed Minute and Paper

  5. Closed Minute and Paper

  6. Report of UEB Health and Safety Committee

    • The Minutes were approved as an accurate record.
  7. Financial Forecasts/Budget

    • UEB approved the report. Particular attention was drawn to COVID-19-related health and safety interventions, including (i.) the management of a local outbreak in January 2021 among members of University and University-affiliated staff, (ii.) a review of the University’s four risk assessment templates in cooperation with the Joint University Campus Committee (JUCC), (iii.) the ongoing operation of the internal Track and Change Team, and (iv.) the success of the COVID-19 Testing Centre at The Octagon. It was noted that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had contacted Health and Safety to establish the actions that had been taken to ensure student compliance with COVID-19 guidance on campus. The appropriate assurances had been given and the HSE had endorsed the University’s actions and closed the matter.
    • During discussion, UEB recognised that the new Director of Health and Safety’s consultative approach to cooperating with campus Trade Unions had contributed to a positive working relationship. It was also noted that the new leadership in Health and Safety provided an opportunity to regularise and consolidate the governance route between UEB Health and Safety Committee, UEB, and Council.
    • Action:
      • To agree the governance route for health and safety reports and updates between Health and Safety Committee, UEB, and Council.
  8. Coronavirus Update

    • KL reported that in-person teaching had resumed for students at the University and across the sector on practical courses from 8 March 2021. A Government announcement on when other groups of students could return to campus was expected after Easter. The University and College Union (UCU) had drawn attention to the practices at three HEIs in the sector that it deemed in contravention of Government guidance. No concerns had been raised about the reinstatement of students on practical courses to the University campus.

    • UEB noted that work to consider the University’s approach to learning and teaching in the 2021/22 academic year would begin in the coming weeks.

    • Action:

      • To bring a paper to UEB on plans for learning and teaching in 2021/22 in due course.

    • Update from the Major Incident Group

      • UEB received and noted the update, which covered the low number of staff and student cases, and the internal Contact Tracing Service, the activities of the COVID-19 Marshals, the COVID-19 Testing Site, and study spaces. In regard to the latter, it was confirmed that Firth Hall was unavailable for utilisation as an additional study space but that there could be scope to use the Mappin Building for this purpose.

      • It was reported that, in the interests of encouraging staff and students to take a lateral flow test if they were on campus, HFK had agreed to be videoed taking a test.

      • During discussion, UEB noted the updated guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) recommending that students on campus remain in their local residence over the Easter vacation. Corporate Communications would prepare communications encouraging that students act in line with the Government guidance. It was also noted that DfE was re-making its case to the Department of Health and Social Care on students being able to quarantine in their local residences, given the recent allowances made for boarding schools in this respect.

      • UEB:

        • Approved the use of Mappin Hall as a study space.

        • Nominated CW as an academic male volunteer to be videoed taking a test.

      • Actions:

        • To work to identify an alternative study space to Firth Hall.

        • To share updated guidance on student quarantine if this changed.

    • FVP Update

      • The FVPs reported on the reinstatement of face-to-face teaching for practical courses in their respective Faculties. In the Faculty of Engineering, it was noted that there could be potential difficulties in making space available for study and practical activities, but there had been good cooperation with the Library on the conversion of library space for teaching purposes. In Arts and Humanities, the Faculty was monitoring the situation for practical courses with single-person technical dependencies to ensure that students continued to receive the necessary provision. Each of the Faculties was considering for the potential return of students for non-practical courses after the Easter vacation, and the means of assisting overseas students who were unable to travel to the UK for their studies.

  9. Round Table

    • Office for Students (OfS) Condition C1 Review: RS reported on the formation of a Working Group to lead on the University’s response to the OfS review of its condition relating to consumer protection law. The Group would produce a paper that would be brought to a meeting of UEB in due course for onward consideration at the meeting of Council on 26 April 2021.
    • Faculty of Science: JD updated UEB on the appointment of the new Head of the School of Biosciences

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