Staff news

Court meeting: 4 December 2023

The University’s governing body, the University Court, met on 4 December 2023.

Summary of the key topics discussed  


Update from the Principal


Peter Mathieson, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, reported on:

  • The UK government’s announcement of twelve new doctoral training centres in different aspects of Artificial Intelligence research, Edinburgh being the only university to be awarded more than one (two outright and one jointly with Heriot-Watt University);   
  • The award to Professor Jane Hillston of the Lovelace Medal, making her the first person to have won all three of the British Computer Society’s three top awards (having previously won the Needham Award and the Distinguished Dissertation Award);
  • A wide-ranging Student Voice Forum on 14 November in which the Principal had participated, along with the Deputy Secretary Students and Vice-Principal Corporate Services;
  • A successful recent visit to the United States, which had advanced numerous objectives, including engagement with alumni, development of philanthropic activity and strategic university partnership development;
  • The presentation in October of the Chancellor’s Awards for outstanding achievements by members of staff across the range of the University’s activity;
  • Winter graduation ceremonies and the receipt of awards by the vast majority of those affected by the UCU Marking and Assessment Boycott earlier in the year;
  • Communications with staff and students in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which focused on supporting any members of the University community who were affected and making clear that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have no place in the University;
  • The screening on campus of the film Adult Human Female, which required significant security measures.


Main Agenda Items


People and Money – External Review Report

Court received and discussed an independent report, which Court had commissioned, into the implementation of the People and Money system and lessons to be learned from this for future large-scale projects. The report’s authors detailed key themes that had emerged from their extensive research and consultation with stakeholders and provided context from other major change projects in the Higher Education sector. Court received a commitment from the University’s senior management that all of the report’s recommendations would be implemented, noting that much relevant work had already been carried out and significant progress made.


Annual Report and Accounts 2022-23

Court considered the draft Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31 July 2023, which were nearing final approval for submission to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), subject to the completion of audit work. The Annual Report and Accounts are published on the University’s Finance webpages later in the year, following the completion of SFC processes.

To complement this, in line with standard procedures, Court also received assurances regarding on-going risk management and was updated on the University’s progress towards achieving its strategic goals for 2030, as measured by a set of key performance indicators.

The Director of Finance reported that the University was facing significantly increased costs, due to the wider inflationary environment, but was well-positioned to manage this challenge.


Staff Reward and Recognition

Court approved revisions to the University’s pay grade structure, as part of the University’s wider approach to attracting, rewarding and retaining high-performing staff and so enhancing the experiences of both staff and students.


Student Experience Update

Court was updated on work in progress to enhance the student experience, including monitoring and further developing the student support model, progress towards curriculum transformation and actions taken on the timeliness and quality of assessment and feedback.


Edinburgh Futures Institute

An update was provided on progress towards completing the Edinburgh Futures Institute, by conversion of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary building. Court approved the allocation of funds required to complete the works.


Other items

Plans for an effectiveness review of Court were reviewed and approved. Proposed revisions to the criteria for membership of the General Council, in the form of a draft Ordinance, were approved to be taken forward for statutory consultations. Regular reports from the Students’ Association, the Sports Union, the Development and Alumni Office, and from Court’s committees were also considered, as was an annual report on Health and Safety. Court also approved Resolutions to establish professorial Chairs and to amend the title of one Chair.


More detailed information on the University Court, including the membership, agenda, open papers and approved minutes can be found on the University Court webpages:

University Court