Court meeting: 23 April 2018
The University Court held its most recent meeting on 23 April.
We publish regular updates on matters discussed at all Court meetings, during which members consider matters of strategic importance to the University.
Meetings of the Court are held five times a year.
The Court is the University’s governing body and its legal persona.
With a focus on strategic direction, it takes the final decisions on issues of fundamental concern to the wellbeing of the University.
Detailed information on the membership and activities of the University Court, including meeting agendas, papers and minutes, is available online.
Summary of Court meeting: 23 April 2018
The following reports are summaries of a selection of items discussed and agreed at Court on 23 April.
New Rector and Rector’s Assessor
The Vice-Convener welcomed the Rector, Ann Henderson, and the Rector’s Assessor, Angi Lamb, to their first Court meeting following the February 2018 election.
Senior Appointments & Retirals
Court noted the following senior appointments and retirals: Professor Moira Whyte appointed as Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine from 1 April, Theresa Merrick appointed as Director of Communications & Marketing from 4 June, Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh appointed as Head of the School of Engineering and Professor James Dunlop appointed as Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy – both with effect from 1 August, and the announcement of the retiral of Phil McNaull as Director of Finance at the end of the calendar year.
The Principal provided an update on the USS pensions dispute, with 14 strike days called by the University & College Union (UCU) over a four week period in February and March and additional action short of a strike. Following a revised proposal by Universities UK, including the establishment of an expert panel nominated in equal numbers by Universities UK and UCU, UCU members voted to suspend ongoing and planned industrial action from 13 April.
Court discussed variance in the impact of industrial action across the University and the potentially significant costs to employers and USS members if the USS Trustees impose an interim solution to satisfy the Pensions Regulator before the expert panel proposes a solution.
Student Experience Update
The Senior Vice-Principal introduced a regular update on the University’s student experience enhancement activities, with the Head of College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine summarising a metrics-and-narrative based report, including key student survey findings and work underway in response. Court discussed initiatives to improve the training of NHS staff involved in student medical teaching, improving lecture timetabling, plans to develop a teaching building at Little France and the advantages and disadvantages of setting numerical targets for improvements in student satisfaction measures.
The Heads of the Moray House School of Education and the School of Physics & Astronomy presented on the approach to recognition and incentives for teaching within their Schools. Challenging a perception that research is valued over teaching was discussed, including reframing language and fully considering teaching contributions in promotion, appointment and annual review processes. It was requested that a future update include the contribution that professional services staff make to improving the student experience.
Widening Participation Strategy
A draft Widening Participation strategy was reviewed, to build on the University’s leadership in the development of contextualised admissions and innovative outreach programmes. Taking a broader approach to widening participation than the SIMD20 measure (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation least advantaged 20% of postcodes), using successful case studies, outreach to secondary school teachers, regional collaboration with other universities, mentoring schemes, potential for additional funded places and communication appropriate for a wide diversity of prospective students was discussed.
Court approved the guiding principles for the strategy and the approach to external communications, with the implementation plan and outline communications plan to progress to the University Executive for approval.
Outcome Agreement 2018/19
The draft Outcome Agreement for 2018/19 was approved and authority delegated to the Deputy Secretary, Strategic Planning, to finalise and submit the Outcome Agreement to the Scottish Funding Council by 30 April 2018.
Equality, Diversity Monitoring & Research Committee (EDMARC) Staff and Student Reports 2017
The EDMARC staff and student reports 2017 were approved for publication.
A new policy, ‘Naming Policy: Recognising Philanthropic Contributions and Individuals of Distinction’ to replace the existing ‘Policy for Naming of Buildings, Rooms and other Facilities’ was approved with immediate effect.
Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) and Edinburgh University Sports Union (EUSU)
EUSA and EUSU Planning Round Submission
The proposed University budget allocations to the Edinburgh University Students’ Association and Edinburgh University Sports Union for 2018-19 were approved.
EUSA Budget 2018-19
Following approval by the EUSA Board of Trustees, the proposed EUSA Budget for the 2018-19 financial year was approved.
Updates from EUSA and reports from Court’s committees on activities being undertaken in support of Court were received. Court also considered an update on progress towards a detailed City Deal agreement with the UK and Scottish governments, approved the appointment of PwC as External Auditors for a period of three years and approved an amendment to the Trust Deed of the Development Trust as part of the implementation of the recommendations of a review of the Development Trust.
Further information on the remit and work of Court and its Committees can be found online.