University Executive Board minutes - 12 January 2021

On

Date:

12 January 2021

Present:

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), Mr D Jones (DJ) (Item 4), Ms D McClean (DM) (Item 4), Mrs V Jackson (VEJ) (Item 5), Mr K Lilley (KxL) (item 7)

Apologies:

-

Secretary:

Mr N Button (NB)/Dr E Smith (ES)


  1. Minutes of UEB Held on 26 November 2020

  • The minutes were approved as an accurate record.

2. Closed Minute and Paper

3. Closed Minute and Paper

4. Budget Setting

  • This item was deferred.

5. Closed Minute and Paper

6. Closed Item

7. Closed Minute

8. Semester Dates: Proposed Facilitation of Flexibility in Response to COVID-19

  • UEB considered a proposal to give the President and Vice-Chancellor the facility, if required, to flex the 2020/21 Semester 2 dates for students by faculty or by department/school in response to the ongoing situation in relation to COVID-19. It was reported that FDLTs were undertaking scenario planning to determine the programmes whose ability to deliver learning outcomes and graduate students had been most impacted. Any flexibility given would be for the purpose of mitigating these impacts. Clarification was provided that the proposal related primarily to UG students, since PGT students’ programmed continued into the summer as a matter of course.  
  • During discussion, UEB raised the following points:
    • The Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan MP, had advised that the extension of semesters into the summer should only be considered if absolutely necessary;
    • It would be useful to inform campus Trade Union colleagues of the proposal prior to its circulation to Senate members for approval.
    • The exercising of the proposed facility to flex Semester 2 dates was ‘bottom-up’ in nature and changes would be by request from departments/schools. 
  • UEB agreed to the proposal in the paper, which would be circulated to Senate for approval on an offline basis and, subject to Senate approval, presented to Council for consideration at its next meeting on 8 February 2021. 

9. Coronavirus Update

General Update

  • KL updated UEB on the rent waiver campaigns following a decision by UNITE to reduce its rent and grant a four-week extension to its tenancies. It was expected that other institutions would come under pressure to follow the University in offering rent waivers to students in University-owned accommodation who were not able to make use of their term-time accommodation.
  • UEB also considered a request from the Students’ Union to consider its No Detriment policy for exams and discussed the actions the University was considering with respect to assessment and exam boards. The priority was to protect learning outcomes while accepting that there had been a detrimental impact to many students’ experience of higher education. UEB also discussed the likelihood that teaching would remain wholly or mostly online until at least Easter and the need to ensure that communications to students about this were centrally managed.

Update from the Major Incident Group

  • IW updated UEB on staff welfare issues, noting that many members of staff were reporting feeling under pressure at this time. Communications were being put out emphasising flexibility and the need for workload prioritisation, as well as practical guidance for managers to support staff. FVPs would work with HoDs to understand workload pressures further. It was important that staff were able to provide feedback to which there was a response.
    • Action: a staff survey, developed to better understanding current staff issues, would be shared with UEB.
  • RS also updated UEB on communications from students concerned about access to campus and study spaces.

FVP Update

  • No updates given.

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