Court meeting: 4 October 2022
The University’s governing body, the University Court, met on 4 October.
Summary of the key topics discussed
Update from the Principal
Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, reported on the University’s involvement in the ceremonial events held in Edinburgh to mark the death of Her Majesty The Queen and the accession of the new monarch, and his condolences sent to both the Royal Family and, individually, to HRH The Princess Royal, the University Chancellor. This coincided with Welcome Week, which took place with great success as new students joined the University.
Accommodation challenges for returning students were discussed, noting that the University had met the accommodation guarantee for new students and gone beyond this to help many returning students, with thanks to the efforts of staff and the Students’ Association and noting that work continues in this area.
People and Money
The implementation of the finance component of the new People and Money system was discussed, recognising that the implementation period has been difficult for many staff. An escalation mechanism is in place for urgent cases and communications will be issued by the Enactment Group to respond to the concerns that have been raised.
The National Student Survey results and student experience
The recent National Student Survey results and student experience more broadly was considered. Work is underway in a number of areas, including developing a set of University-wide priorities and principles for assessment and feedback to be phased in over this academic year and next, as well as implementing a new student support model and progressing the Curriculum Transformation Programme. The importance Court places on improving the student experience more generally was re-iterated and accountability, resourcing, expected future changes to the survey itself and balancing shorter and longer term responses all discussed.
Research Excellence Grant funding
Court approved a proposal for the allocation of the University’s expected share of the Scottish Funding Council’s Research Excellence Grant over the next five years, which will increase following the University’s strong performance in the Research Excellence Framework 2021. For the current year, allocations will remain as agreed to give certainty for Colleges and Schools in their planning. In the following years, the intention is to provide the existing ‘core’ allocation to Colleges and Schools plus an overall uplift and for the remaining expected uplift, use this to support strategic interdisciplinary investments in five themes aligned to Strategy 2030.
A report on the likely outturn for student admissions in the current year was reviewed, with indications that the intake will closely match overall planned figures, along with a significant increase in the proportion of new students from widening participation backgrounds.
An overview of the rapidly changing geopolitical climate in which the University operates and international aspects of student recruitment, institutional collaborations, research and commercial income, philanthropy and other sources of funding was considered. Scenario planning and the importance of diversifying international activities was discussed.
Regular reports from the Students’ Association, the Sports Union, the Director of Finance, the Development and Alumni Office, Senate and from Court’s committees were also considered. A follow-up report on the Enhancement-Led Institutional Review was endorsed for submission to the Quality Assurance Agency for Scotland. An Annual Report to the Scottish Funding Council on Institution-led Review and Enhancement Activity 2021/22 was approved.
More detailed information on the University Court, including the membership, agenda, open papers and approved minutes can be found on the University Court webpages: