Court meeting: 30 September 2019
The University Court held its most recent meeting on 30 September.
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: 30 September 2019
The following reports are summaries of a selection of items discussed and agreed at Court on 30 September.
New members and new senior staff attendees
Five new Court members were welcomed to their first meeting:
- Alastair Dunlop, Chancellor’s Assessor
- Jock Millican, General Council Assessor
- Sarah Wolffe, General Council Assessor
- David Law, Co-opted Member
- Caroline Gardner, Co-opted Member
For biographical information on the new Court members, please see:
Professor Colm Harmon, Vice-Principal Students, was welcomed to his first meeting as a senior staff attendee. For more information on Professor Harmon, please see:
Findings of Student Surveys 2018/19
A summary of performance in the 2018/19 National Student Survey (NSS), Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) was reviewed. There had been no significant change in the NSS overall satisfaction score, with the results remaining below the Russell Group average, with PTES satisfaction scores generally in line with or above the Russell Group average and PRES scores slightly below the Russell Group average. Actions underway to improve the student experience include a review of the Personal Tutor system, the planned opening of a new Health and Wellbeing Centre in February 2020 and accompanying additional investment in delivering the Student Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy.
Court discussed lessons learned from previous initiatives to improve the student experience; academic staff perspectives on the Personal Tutor system; and, using the launch of new projects such as the Health and Wellbeing Centre to communicate improvements already made.
The Vice-Principal Students added some initial reflections, highlighting the opportunity to develop an over-arching student experience narrative, the University’s commitment to breadth of subject and course choice and desire for curriculum review.
Estates: School of Engineering Module 1
A funding request to enable the first stage of the relocation of the School of Engineering within the King’s Buildings campus was considered. It was noted that the new building will enable a growth in teaching as well as research activity, with an improved staff:student ratio planned. The environmental impact of the new building was discussed, with solar panels and sustainable materials to be used.
Court approved £30.61m funding from University Resources to progress the Engineering Module 1 project to completion.
Overview of the Main University Rankings
A briefing note on the main UK and international university rankings and their differences was reviewed. It was reaffirmed that University decisions are not led by league table rankings but strategies and policies instead support the pursuit of excellence, with the expectation that this should/will be recognised by rankings. The briefing note was welcomed and the following points raised in discussion:
- Improvements in UK rankings in recent years have been influenced by positive changes in the staff:student ratio and graduate employment outcomes;
- The strong influence of the National Student Survey results on the UK rankings and commensurate effect on the University’s position in the UK rankings; and,
- The University’s position of 13th in Scotland in a Sunday Times inclusion table – acknowledging recent significant improvements in the proportion of students recruited from the least advantaged 20% of Scottish postcodes (SIMD20 measure).
Updates from the Director of Finance, from the Students’ Association and reports from Court’s committees on activities being undertaken in support of Court were received. Court also received an update on the Edinburgh BioQuarter site and approved: an annual quality assurance report to the Scottish Funding Council; the delegation of authority to the Principal and to the Chief Information Officer to approve and sign a new contract to continue the campus-wide provision of Microsoft software; and, minor amendments to the Terms of Reference for Policy & Resources Committee relating to the establishment of Staff Experience Committee and the dissolution of People Committee.
Further information on the remit and work of Court and its Committees can be found online.