Court meeting: 5 February 2018
The University Court held its most recent meeting on 5 February.
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: 5 February 2018
The following reports are summaries of a selection of items discussed and agreed at Court on 5 February.
Court observed a minute’s silence in memory of Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, Principal and Vice-Chancellor from 1994 to 2002, who died on 29 January 2018.
New Principal’s Welcome
On behalf of Court, the Rector welcomed Professor Peter Mathieson to his first meeting. The Principal thanked Court and commented on the University’s strong position and his interest in further improving the student and staff experience and enhancing widening participation.
The University Secretary provided an update on planned sector-wide industrial action by the University & College Union (UCU) in response to proposed changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). 14 days of strike action in February and March are scheduled. A contingency planning group chaired by the University Secretary is meeting regularly, with an academic sub-group also in operation. Court agreed that the University should seek to minimise disruption to students and prioritise the student experience as strike action and action short of a strike take place.
Court noted the report of the memorial service held for Assistant Principal Professor Jon Oberlander on 12 January and formally recorded its condolences to the family of Professor Oberlander, a greatly valued friend and colleague.
The Principal reported on: student application statistics for 2018-19 entry; the Scottish Government’s announcement that the current tuition fee status of EU nationals will be extended to those starting undergraduate courses in 2019-20 for the duration of their course; and the Scottish Government’s draft 2018-19 budget, which includes a proposed £11m increase in higher education funding. The Vice-Principal Planning, Resources & Research Policy reported on an encouraging increase in research awards, including a significant Health Data Research UK award and success in the EU Horizon 2020 COFUND application previously approved by Court.
Student Experience Update
The Senior Vice-Principal introduced an update on the University’s student experience enhancement activities. The introduction of mid-course feedback and improved institutional communications was welcomed, with the 2018 National Student Survey opening to final year undergraduates on 5 February.
The Head of College of Science & Engineering summarised a metrics-and-narrative based report focused on the College of Science & Engineering, including key student survey findings, Students’ Association feedback and work underway in response.
The Students’ Association Vice-President Education provided an overview of planned changes to the system of student class representatives to create a smaller cohort at degree-programme level with personalised training and support from the Students’ Association.
Court welcomed the report and discussed improvements to non-academic facilities at King’s Buildings, learning from successful examples before undertaking a programme of change, variance in Personal Tutor practices between Schools and the University’s improving student/staff ratio.
‘Zero by 2040’ Investments
The Senior Vice-Principal presented a proposal to complete the transitioning of the University’s investment portfolio out of investment in fossil fuel companies within the next three years, taking account of the institutional ‘Zero by 2040’ carbon neutral goal. The support of the Students’ Association, Investment Committee and Policy & Resources Committee was noted and the intention to continue to engage with fossil fuel companies around climate change welcomed. It was noted that the University would continue to research, teach and work with fossil fuel companies in line with normal processes and the principle of academic freedom. Members discussed opportunities to invest in low carbon industries, stakeholder communications and plans to exit from affected investments – representing less than one percent of the University’s investments – at an appropriate time. The commitment to cease to invest in fossil fuel companies as soon as practicable in the next three years was approved.
Outcome Agreement 2018-19
The broad approach and content for the draft single year Outcome Agreement 2018-19 was agreed, with authority delegated to the Deputy Secretary, Strategic Planning, to refine the detail of the document prior to the presentation of a final version at the 23 April Court meeting.
Estates: Strathclyde Rowing Centre and Boat Centre
Court approved entering into a 30 year ground lease with North Lanarkshire Council in order to build a new rowing centre and boat store at Strathclyde Country Park.
Estates: Disability Access Improvements Programme
Court approved £15m expenditure (£3m per annum over the five year period 2018-19 to 2022-23) to implement the recommendations of the Disabled Go access audits of the University’s core buildings and teaching spaces.
Rector’s Final Court Meeting
On behalf of Court, the Student President thanked the Rector for his service to Court and the wider University.
Updates from EUSA and reports from Court’s committees on activities being undertaken in support of Court were received. Court also approved proposals for the official recognition of alumni clubs, reviewed the Development & Alumni Office’s Annual Report 2016-17 and delegated authority to conclude legal agreements for the University’s participation in the Rosalind Franklin Institute – a new UK research centre at the interface between the physical, engineering and life sciences to be established at Harwell, near Oxford.
Further information on the remit and work of Court and its Committees can be found online.