University Executive Board minutes - 8 March 2022



8 March 2022


Professor K Lamberts (KL) (in the Chair), Professor J Derrick (JD) (items 2-6), Professor S Fitzmaurice (SF), J Jones (JJ), Professor J Litster (JL) (items 2-6), Professor C Newman (CN), Professor D Petley (DNP), R Sykes (RS), Professor G Valentine (GV), Professor M Vincent (MV), Professor C Watkins (CW), T Wray (TW)

In attendance:

A Bath (AB) and M Nolan (MN) (item 1), S Duke (SD) (items 2-3), S Want (SW) (item 4)


Professor S Hartley (SH), Dr T Strike (TS)


D T Swinn (DS)

  1. OfS Consultations

    • (AB and MN in attendance for this item)

    • Regulation of Student Outcomes

      • UEB discussed the draft institutional response to the OfS’ consultation on its proposed approach to regulating student outcomes by setting baseline performance requirements. It was noted that the OfS would decide whether to implement the changes in early summer, with revised condition B3 and associated guidance taking effect in around July 2022 to enable the provision of data and consideration by the OfS, where required, in the period to December 2022.
      • In reviewing the proposed sector-level numerical thresholds for all levels and modes of study, UEB noted the relatively low figure for UG apprenticeship completions. While the University’s completion rate was significantly higher than this, UEB noted the need to monitor trends in future.
      • UEB approved the draft response for submission to the OfS.
    • Teaching Excellence Framework
      • UEB discussed the draft institutional response to the OfS’ consultation on a new approach to the Teaching Excellence Framework. The new TEF would rate providers on their performance above the minimum baselines for the purposes of registration condition B3, set out in the two parallel consultations on regulating student outcomes and constructing student outcome and experience indicators. Students Unions were also able to respond to the consultation alongside evidence about how students’ views had been sought. The current expectation was that all providers would be required to make an institutional TEF submission in Autumn 2022 with the outcomes being announced in Spring 2023. It was noted that the relevant data would be publicly available and that OfS intended to publish this data on an annual basis in order to incentivise action by providers and to enable prospective students to access it via DiscoverUni. Publicly available data would include not only aggregated data at institutional level but also data relating to student characteristics and programme level data. OfS would use the data to identify themes for investigation and action, which would also reflect government priorities. The impact of a reintroduced TEF and the publication of related data on applicant decision making and league tables was uncertain at present, although it was likely to be of relatively more significance to home students than to international students.
      • UEB approved the draft response for submission to the OfS.
  2. Closed Minute and Paper

  3. Closed Minute and Paper

  4. Closed Minute and Paper

  5. Industrial Action: Report from the Incident Management Team

    • UEB received and noted the report and also received verbal updates on recent developments since the IMT meeting. In particular, UEB discussed the situation regarding mitigations for disruption to learning and teaching as a result of industrial action, particular areas of challenge and measures being implemented and planned. UEB also considered the University’s approach to deducting pay from colleagues undertaking action short of a strike (ASOS) where this had a serious impact on students. UEB reaffirmed the previously stated position that the primary concern was to minimise the impact of industrial action on the University’s students.  
    • During discussion, UEB noted the following key points and considerations:
      • The nature of programmes and extent of module choice in different disciplines, as well as variations in the availability of learning material for students and in the relatively linearity of subjects, were key factors affecting the ease with which mitigation could be achieved.
      • The University recognised the impact of industrial action on all colleagues, whether or not they were participating in the action, and the wider operating and external contexts in which the action was taking place. Although the recent programme of VC/DVC departmental visits had included a positive invitation to colleagues to suggest how the University could enhance staff engagement and communication over both the industrial action and the underlying pay and pensions issues themselves, nothing had been forthcoming to date.
      • There may be more to do in terms of enabling colleagues to understand the University’s financial position, and that of the sector more generally, informed by recent positive feedback about the VC message regarding the real terms value of the home UG tuition fee and the value colleagues placed on hearing from members of UEB directly. 
      • It was essential that colleagues understood and appreciated the various legal and regulatory requirements with which the University must comply.
      • The University needed to continue to seek to identify and implement all reasonable and practicable means by which to minimise the impact on students.
      • Any approach to pay deductions for action short of a strike should be considered as part of the University demonstrating that it had taken all reasonable steps to avoid detriment to students.  It was likely that the University would need to notify the OfS of a reportable event if mitigations for particular students or cohorts could not be achieved satisfactorily, with the added risk that the OfS may also receive notifications from individual students themselves.
      • Although contested by UCU, legal advice had confirmed that the proposed action short of a strike constituted a breach of individuals’ contracts of employment.
      • Out of a total staff base of c.8000, current data indicated that only 460 members of staff had participated in strike action on any given day during the latest phase.
  6. Round Table

    • Ukraine: Members noted the recent statement from HE institutions and the city council in Manchester in relation to the war in Ukraine, and noted planned institutional updates to staff on the University position.
    • Cyber Security: UEB endorsed action to accelerate the implementation of measures previously agreed by UEB in relation to retired staff University computer and email accounts, to conclude by July, in order to further manage and mitigate increased cyber risks.
    • South Yorkshire Sustainability Centre: It was reported that an announcement would be made on 9 March in relation to establishment of the new centre, a multimillion pound venture supported by external funding and in partnership with key regional partners. The centre was intended to play a vital role in responding to and delivering on the region’s net zero commitments.

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