Court meeting: 27 April 2020
The University Court held its most recent meeting by video conference on 27 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. 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: 27 April 2020
The following reports are summaries of a selection of items discussed and agreed at the meeting on 27 April.
Court noted the contents of the report and additional information on the approach taken in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, prioritising health and safety considerations for students and staff. Future planning work is for ‘adaptation and renewal’ rather than ‘recovery’ given the need for new approaches as the virus and its impact persist. Preparations for hybrid online/in-person teaching next semester were discussed and the varying impact of remote working and studying on different groups.
Covid-19: Mitigation and Renewal – Prioritisation and Management
The approach to co-ordination and governance of the institutional response to the Covid-19 outbreak was reviewed. The University’s pandemic plan was refreshed following the emergence of the virus and a co-ordination team established alongside specialist academic contingency and admissions mitigations groups. The University moved to remote teaching and assessment from 23 March and transitioned from immediate contingency planning to a short-term operating model, now mostly complete. Work on the next phase, adaptation and renewal, is underway and is led by a group convened by the Principal with supporting workstreams led by identified senior leaders.
Covid-19 Communications Reporting & Evaluation
The University’s media coverage and communications with external and internal audiences regarding the Covid-19 pandemic was considered. The importance of communicating with prospective students was noted, with a ‘see you soon’ video message receiving high levels of engagement. Future communications with prospective students could include messages from current students to help with student community building. Appropriate internal and external communication of the challenges facing the University was discussed.
Student Experience Update
The Vice-Principal Students provided a verbal update on the University’s move to remote teaching from 23 March and planning for the coming academic year. It is expected that a hybrid model of teaching will be developed for the next semester, blending online and in-person teaching with social distancing measures. Building an esprit de corps for all members of the student community, whether on campus or online will be a key component.
The Students’ Association President thanked University staff for the collaborative approach taken in responding to the pandemic’s impact on the student community and noted the continued importance of activity to improve the student experience, including in attracting prospective students.
EUSA President’s Report
The Students’ Association President reported on recent developments including the serious financial impact anticipated from the Covid-19 pandemic on the Association given the cancellation of the Edinburgh Festivals and generally reduced commercial trading activities. Mitigating actions planned or underway include utilising the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and discussions with University staff are ongoing regarding future financial planning.
Outcome Agreement 2020/21
A proposed single year Outcome Agreement for 2020/21 was approved and authority delegated to the Deputy Secretary Strategic Planning to refine the detail of the document prior to submission to the Scottish Funding Council.
Andrew Wilson and Oona Miller, Students’ Association President and Vice-President Welfare respectively, were thanked for their service to the student body and the University over the past year and wished well for the future, with Ellen MacRae and Rachel Irwin, Students’ Association President-elect and Vice-President-elect Activities & Services respectively, welcomed as observers to the meeting before taking office alongside Janet Legrand, Senior Lay Member-elect.
A regular update from the Director of Finance was reviewed and reports from Court’s committees on activities being undertaken in support of Court were considered.
Further information on the remit and work of Court and its Committees can be found online.