Court meeting: 3 December 2018
The University Court held its most recent meeting on 3 December.
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: 3 December 2018
The following is a summary of a selection of items considered on 3 December.
Student and Staff Experience Action Plan
Emerging proposals for an ambitious, multi-year programme of work to address concerns about the student and staff experience were reviewed. 8 themes have been identified, with a range of possible actions to shift practice and enhance student experience. It was noted that the action plan is not intended as a comprehensive set of staff experience actions, with the plan remaining student experience focused. Court discussed: the importance of regular communications with students and staff; linking physical and digital projects and connecting these with student and staff experience actions; and, improving digital offerings without depersonalising the learning experience. Noting that a more detailed and costed version of the plan is under development, the scale of ambition and direction of travel was supported.
Strategic Plan 2016 Performance Measurement Framework
An annual overview of progress using the Strategic Plan 2016 performance measurement framework was presented. The following points were raised:
- Positive performance in widening participation and research income was welcomed;
- Measures for undergraduates in graduate level employment six months after graduation and for operating surplus as a percentage of total income are within target parameters but marked as ‘watching’ indicators to match reporting in the Annual Report and Accounts;
- Measures of social and economic impact help demonstrate the positive community benefits of the University and this is under review;
- Reasons for the flat performance against the research income per academic measure will continue to be explored; and,
- Racial diversity will be considered within the forthcoming EDMARC (Equality Diversity Monitoring and Research Committee) report.
Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18
Following scrutiny by the Audit & Risk Committee and the Policy & Resources Committee, the Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 July 2018 were presented for approval. The integrated reporting approach and its benefit in demonstrating performance to external funders was noted. Briefings held on the Annual Report and Accounts prior to the Court meeting were welcomed and it was requested that these continue in future years. Court thanked all staff for their contribution towards the financial performance of the University and those involved in producing the document. The Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18 was approved.
Student Accommodation Residential Strategy 2018-2028
A proposed student accommodation residential strategy was reviewed, noting the intention to update the strategy on an annual basis. Members commented on: welcoming the intention to improve the socio-economic mix and geographical spread of student accommodation and the future integration with the emerging transport strategy; the proportion of family/couples accommodation– to be kept under review; the estimated proportion of incoming Edinburgh-based students who would wish to take University accommodation; opportunities for student co-operatives; and, community engagement with a student accommodation development currently in the City Council planning process. The Strategy was approved and work underway to procure additional accommodation supported.
Staff Survey Update
Results of the first all-staff engagement survey and initial next steps were considered. The following points were raised in discussion:
- The response should include communication of positive findings and be mindful of the need to prioritise and avoid initiative overload;
- Opportunity with large number of ‘amber’ responses to convert these to ‘green’ in future surveys and opportunity to address specific issues raised in different areas of the University;
- Managers should be fully engaged in responding to the survey, to avoid assumption that this is a central HR responsibility;
- Two-way engagement at all levels needed in considering responses and next steps;
- The visual presentation of the survey and detailed information provided at School/Directorate and subject/team level was welcomed;
- Guaranteed hours contracts were discussed, with management discussions continuing with Trade Unions.
EUSA President’s Report
The Students’ Association President reported on recent developments. Members discussed NHS, University and EUSA support for students experiencing mental health issues and transport provision between campuses, particularly the King’s Buildings-Central Area shuttle bus service.
Draft Ordinance: Composition of Court
Responses received during the statutory consultation were considered and a final draft Ordinance was approved for submission to the Privy Council Office.
Reports from Court’s committees on activities being undertaken in support of Court were received. Court received a progress update on social investments and approved revisions to the Delegated Authority Schedule and Treasury Mandate to assist in making future social investments. The expansion of the Remuneration Committee’s membership to include one staff member of Court and the Students’ Association President was approved. The delegation of authority to the Principal for budget and contract approval for an upgrade of the IT Network was approved. The Modern Slavery Statement 2017/18 was approved.
Further information on the remit and work of Court and its Committees can be found online.