University Executive Board minutes - 4 October 2022



4 October 2022


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor A Blom, Professor J Derrick (JD), Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Professor S Hartley (SH), J Jones (JJ), Professor J Litster (JL), R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor M Vincent (MV), Professor C Watkins (CW), I Wright (IW)

In attendance:

J Strachan (JS); Z Ahmed (ZA) (item 1)




D T Swinn (DS)

  1. Religion, Belief and No Belief Strategy and Action Plan

    • (ZA in attendance for this item)          

    • UEB considered and approved the Religion, Belief and Non Belief Strategy and Action Plan. This was the result of extensive consultation, including a listening project open to all staff and students led by the University Chaplaincy, with development having been overseen and guided by the Council Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The Committee had endorsed the proposals and agreed that religion, belief and no belief should be added to the Universities ED&I priorities. The strategy and action plan would sit alongside and complement the University’s growing range of ED&I strategies and action plans, the overarching ED&I strategy and core One University values.
    • It was also noted that detailed proposals for specific actions would be brought to UEB for consideration and approval throughout the delivery period and UEB approved proposed plans to move into the delivery phase and communicate the Strategy and Action Plan to colleagues and key stakeholders.

    • During discussion UEB recognised that this was an especially challenging area and, with respect to belief and no belief, clarification was provided that the focus of this strategy and action plan was on faith, as a protected characteristic within the parameters of the Equalities Act, rather than strongly held views or opinions. It was also clarified that the strategy and action plan sought to account for expected new HE free speech legislation and recent action relating to combatting anti-Semitism and the adoption of the IHRA definition, by providing a clear framework for institutional activity that also addressed external requirements or demands. Following UEB approval, a dedicated Delivery Group would lead the implementation work, with an initial prioritisation of actions and a consideration of timescales and resources.

  2. Closed Minute and Paper

  3. Student Protection Plan

    • UEB received and noted proposed updates to the University’s Student Protection Plan, which would be presented to Senate for approval on 12 October, on the recommendation of the Senate Learning & Teaching Committee, ahead of submission to the OfS. It was noted that the updated plan reflected new and evolved risks and previous institutional engagement with the OfS and that the Students’ Union had responded positively to the proposals.

  4. Closed Minute and Paper

  5. Closed Minute and Paper

  6. Closed Minute and Paper

  7. Closed Minute and Paper

  8. Department of Journalism Studies name change

    • UEB considered and approved proposals for a change of departmental name from the Department of Journalism to the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, noting that the related paper, which had been reviewed by the Faculty of Social Sciences’ Executive Board, would be updated before being presented to Senate to recommend the change of name to Council. The potential change had also been subject to extensive consultation.

    • UEB noted that the proposed change sought to reflect the evolution and expansion of the department’s portfolio as well as changes in the journalism profession, as a means to safeguard the department’s market dominance while mitigating attendant risks. It was also reported that some concerns had been expressed about the potential impact of adding “media and communication” into the name and the risk that this might impact on other departments’ or faculties’ provision. However, there were equivalent examples across the University that worked successfully, with added oversight and control through SAGSRP and the programme approval process such that the use of a particular term did not convey exclusivity on a specific department or school.
  9. Cowrie Scholarship Foundation

    • UEB discussed and approved a recommendation that the University collaborate with the Cowrie Scholarship Foundation, supporting the higher education of disadvantaged black British students by covering the undergraduate tuition fee for one student per year for the next three years. It was noted that this initiative was complementary to the Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan and access and participation objectives more broadly. Clarification was provided about the range of existing scholarships available for other disadvantaged student groups and that the University would work with the Foundation to shortlist potential recipients of the scholarship from those already applying to study at Sheffield.
  10. Round Table

    • Conservative Party Conference: TW and KL provided an update on institutional engagements.
    • Science Minister: Nusrat Ghani had been appointed Minister for Science, Research and Innovation.
    • USS Pensions: It was noted that the pensions sector was exposed to financial pressures arising from the economic impact of the Chancellor’s recent fiscal statement. This was also likely to be relevant for the USPS scheme. The University was seeking confirmation from the trade unions about their representatives on the joint USS Valuation Working Group.
    • Industrial relations: Industrial action was taking place across
    • Staff Code of Conduct: GV provided an update on the planned launch and related briefings, including with UEB-HoDs.
    • Staff Survey: IW reported the latest response rate.