University Executive Board minutes - 8 February 2022



8 February 2022


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor J Derrick (JD), Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), Professor S Hartley (SH), J Jones (JJ), Professor J Litster (JL), Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DNP), R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor C Watkins (CW), T Wray (TW)

In attendance:

Dr T Strike (TS), V Jackson (VEJ) (item 4), R Gower (RG) (item 5), S Duke (SD) (item 6)


Professor M Vincent (MV)


D T Swinn (DS)

  1. Minutes of UEB held on 29 June 2021

    • The Minutes were approved as an accurate record.

  2. Minutes of UEB held on 9 August 2021

    • The Minutes were approved as an accurate record.

  3. Minutes of UEB held on 5 October 2021

    • The Minutes were approved as an accurate record.

  4. Closed Minute and Paper

  5. SRDS Review Update

    • (RG in attendance for this item)

    • UEB received and noted an update on the SRDS review, following UEB’s approval of a number of changes to the process for academic staff arising from a previous detailed review. Those changes had been piloted successfully in a small number of departments for the 2021 cycle prior to full roll out in 2022. UEB noted areas of learning from the pilot exercise and proposals relating to the full roll out during 2022. UEB also noted that feedback from pilot departments was overwhelmingly positive and would be used to inform future enhancements, while the Heads of those departments would be positive advocates for the changed process.

  6. Closed Minute and Paper

  7. Proposed USS changes

    • UEB considered how the University should respond to a further UUK employers consultation on revised proposals put forward by the USS Trustee following consideration of responses through the statutory members’ consultation and initial discussions at the JNC. It was also reported that UCU had publicised alternative proposals that were yet to be tabled formally at the JNC and were currently not costed.

    • UEB noted the changes now being proposed by USS, the associated increase in institutional costs, and that a further 60 day statutory member consultation period would be required, meaning that the provisions in the Scheme Rules regarding increased contribution rates would take effect in April. Members also discussed the potential benefits of the proposals, and the likely levels of support across the sector, given the variable financial positions of USS employers, as well as the likely views of the Pensions Regulator.

    • UEB agreed to respond positively to the proposals, but emphasised the importance of maintaining the current 65:35 split in contributions between employers and employees.

  8. Innovation Career Pathway

    • UEB received and noted an update on the progress of the Innovation Career Pathway Working Group and considered the proposed development of an Innovation Career Pathway under ACP and a related stakeholder consultation plan. It was reported that feedback from faculties and departments indicated an appetite for additional recognition of innovation activities under the Education and Research pathways.  However, the current proposals were primarily aimed at supporting staff who were engaged on research contracts but for whom the existing ACP pathways did not effectively measure performance or enable promotions due to the nature of their activities. It was recognised that, over time, there may be other academic colleagues whose activities would be best suited to an innovation pathway, and that other institutions offered a similar academic route. 

    • In the event that other colleagues sought to move to the new pathway, this would require the agreement of their HoD and Faculty leadership. UEB also noted that the introduction of the new route could offer greater flexibility over promotions and academic titles in future but endorsed the view of the working group that the innovation pathway should remain limited to academic staff.

    • UEB approved the development of the Innovation Career Pathway and endorsed a related stakeholder consultation exercise, including UEB-HoDs, Senate, Trade Unions and staff whose roles may be expected to fall under the new pathway.

  9. Armed Forces Covenant – Proposal for adoption

    • (DNP declared a conflict of interest in relation to this item.)

    • UEB considered and agreed to recommend to Council that the University become a signatory to the Covenant, which was supported by members of the Universities of Sheffield Military Education Committee and SU Officers. It was noted that undertaking actions required under the Covenant would support important, strategic activities in relation to Widening Participation. UEB also agreed to recommend to Council that this be marked by a signing ceremony, to take place before July 2022, between the University and the Ministry of Defence involving the Military Education Committee, the SU and the Cadet Units. If possible, the ceremony would coincide with the annual MEC lecture, scheduled for 30 March 2022 and hosted by Sheffield Hallam University.

  10. Veolia Contract

    • Pursuant to the University’s Financial Regulations, UEB agreed to recommend to Finance Committee signature by the Authorised Financial Officer of a contract with Veolia ES (UK) Ltd. It was noted that the Financial Regulations were to be reviewed and any amendments proposed to Finance Committee for approval.

  11. Industrial Action: Report from the Incident Management Team

    • UEB received and noted an update on discussions following the announcement by UCU of ten days’ strike action commencing on 14 February. It was noted that communications to staff and departments needed to emphasise the impact of changes in the regulatory requirements relating to delivery of learning outcomes and the consequent importance of taking all reasonable action to mitigate the impact of action on students and to be able to demonstrate having done so effectively. The increased risk posed by action short of a strike was also recognised, together with the importance of staff completing the necessary declarations to inform subsequent departmental mitigating actions.

  12. Round Table

    • Cyber Security: TS provided an update on current risk mitigation.

    • Levelling Up White Paper: DNP reported that a range of analysis was being undertaken to inform a more detailed briefing on the implications and opportunities of the White Paper, including with reference to particular local and regional issues.

    • Licensing Contracts: SH reported positive progress having been made towards agreeing new licensing agreements for journals and publications.

    • Graduation Ceremonies: TW provided an update on preparations for the March ceremonies, including senior level representation and presiding officers.

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.