Court meeting: 17 June 2019
The University Court held its most recent meeting on 17 June.
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: 17 June 2019
The following reports are summaries of a selection of items discussed and agreed at Court on 17 June.
Queen’s Birthday Honours
Four staff members recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours were congratulated: Dorothy Miell, Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – OBE for services to higher education and psychology; Professor Hector MacQueen – CBE for services to legal scholarship; Professor Amanda Amos – OBE for services to public health; and, Dr Jane Haley – MBE for services to scientific engagement and education.
Student Experience Action Plan Update
An update on the programme of work to address the student experience was reviewed, with the following points raised in discussion:
- To aid with promotion opportunities for teaching-focused academic staff, revised Exemplars of Excellence in Student Education have been developed and will be submitted to the University Executive for approval. Existing examples of teaching-focused academic staff promotions could be communicated more widely;
- Recommendations from a review of student support, including the Personal Tutor system, are expected in December 2019. Student-facing administrative hubs will be rolled-out across University campuses from January 2020 onwards;
- Work to improve the accessibility of the estate is ongoing, including in the refurbished Law School;
- The significant increase in lecture recording to 85% of all lectures was welcomed. While, in common with other universities, lecture attendance is not compulsory, guidance for students recommends attendance at lectures with recordings supplementary; and,
- The £14.2 million budget for the three year programme of work is included within the Court-approved planning round, with key new areas of expenditure in the programme including curriculum reform and digital teaching.
Draft Strategic Plan
An update on the consultation process and final draft text for a new Strategic Plan was reviewed. The move to a values based approach and utilising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a lens to view the University’s wider contributions to society were welcomed. Drafting comments for consideration prior to publication in the Autumn were provided, including: case study suggestions; emphasising sustainability; and, enhancing language on the vision and active contributions of the University. The draft Strategic Plan was agreed, with authority delegated to the University Secretary and Deputy Secretary Strategic Planning to make final drafting amendments and agree the document design prior to publication.
Undergraduate Access Scholarships
Proposed changes to replace the existing undergraduate access scholarships from 2020 entry with a single, consolidated and simplified access scholarship programme to be named the Access Edinburgh Scholarships were approved. The following points were raised in discussion:
- Strong support for the simplification of existing scholarships and opportunities for accessing support prior to Welcome Week in some circumstances;
- Students with a home address in the City of Edinburgh are not currently eligible for an accommodation bursary but would be eligible for the full package of support in the new scheme;
- The steepness of the household income taper between £21,000 to £24,000, although these match government income banding when assessing student support eligibility;
- Equalising financial support between Scottish and Rest of UK students, with the intent to maximise the impact of the scheme; and,
- Court will be updated on the impact of the scheme and level of financial expenditure after implementation.
Estates: Peffermill Sports Village: Indoor and Outdoor Sports
Following approval of the full business case by Estates Committee, a funding request to improve sports facilities at the Peffermill site was considered. Joint funding of a four court indoor tennis centre was discussed, noting that this was a new opportunity that had arisen since the capital prioritisation exercise had been agreed but could be accommodated within the estates capital budget with minor modification. The outcome of capital prioritisation exercise would remain open to future amendment if sufficiently strong new opportunities arose. Potential for community access to the facilities, the importance of sport to the student and staff experience, attracting philanthropic funding and the intention to develop student accommodation at Peffermill were discussed.
Court approved expenditure from University Resources comprising:
- funding to deliver a new sports pavilion with 12 court sports hall, outdoor hockey pitch, archery range, event car parking and associated landscaping;
- a contribution to deliver a new four court indoor tennis centre subject to securing external funding from the Transforming Scottish Indoor Tennis Fund.
Ordinances: Senate and General Council
- considered the responses received during the statutory consultation and agreed a response to the comments submitted by the General Council;
- approved the final draft Ordinances as presented for submission to the Privy Council; and,
- delegated authority to the University Secretary to agree any further non-material changes to the Ordinances if requested by the Scottish Government or Privy Council
Updates from the Students’ Association and reports from Court’s committees on activities being undertaken in support of Court were received. Court also approved: the annual risk report and strategic risk register; internal and external audit plans; the 2019/20 allocation for the Estates Small Works Programme Budget; a revised process for the award of University Benefactor status; minor revisions to the University Computing Regulations and the recognition of eight University alumni clubs.
Further information on the remit and work of Court and its Committees can be found online.