Minutes of the Fifty-fourth Meeting of General Assembly held on Thursday 16 May 1996
The Vice-Chancellor was in the Chair and forty-seven members signed the attendance roll. Five apologies for absence were received.
The Minutes of the Fifty-second meeting of General Assembly held on 20 June 1995 were confirmed and signed by the Chair as a correct record of proceedings.
The Minutes of the Fifty-third meeting of General Assembly held on 17 October 1995 were confirmed and signed by the Chair as a correct record of proceedings.
96/2 Matters Arising from the Minutes
There were no matters arising from the Minutes of the Fifty-second meeting not appearing elsewhere on the Agenda.
The Vice-Chancellor reported that the use of straplines by the Faculties had been approved.
i) The University's 1996/97 HEFCE grant settlement
The Vice Chancellor reported that Non-consolidated funds had been cut by 57.48%, adding 1% to the overall reduction in HEFCE funds of 3.84%, a total of almost 7% in real terms. There had been an unexpectedly large cut of 35.47% in capital funds. Universities were expected to compensate by seeking additional funding for capital equipment through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The Vice-Chancellor expressed the view that this was unlikely to be successful as the PFI had been established to help fund long term rather than short term projects or equipment.
A meeting to discuss and publicise the impact of the cuts had been arranged for Monday 20 May 1996.
The Vice-Chancellor reported that, although the University had suffered a higher than average reduction in funding, it had been protected from the severest cuts suffered by the older Universities.
ii) The University's budget for 1996/97
The Vice-Chancellor informed the General Assembly that the reduction in HEFCE funding of almost 7% in real terms, would be met in part by reducing the 1996/97 allocation to the capital building programme and by phasing the Engineering building. Central Services budgets were being held constant in cash terms for the second year in succession. Departments must take advantage of opportunities to increase external income. External income would need to be increased. It was hoped that cuts in the FRASL budget to academic departments could be kept to a maximum of 2% in real terms.
The Vice-Chancellor remarked that the University's wider income base had helped it cope with the cuts in Funding Council grant and that external income would become increasingly important to the University's budget.
iii) Buildings Plan : an update on current and proposed developments
The Vice-Chancellor reported that the tennis centre had been completed and opened and that the new sports hall was to be opened officially on 15 July 1996.
The General Assembly was informed that the phasing of the Engineering building was dependent upon loan capital.
The General Assembly received a report from the SPVC on membership of Faculty Boards.
a) It was suggested that, if professors did not receive automatic membership, but were included in the electorate, the number of places to be filled by professorial staff could be specified per Department. In response the SPVC agreed that such an arrangement would be possible, but that attention would need to be paid to continuity of attendance at meetings.
b) The abolition of automatic membership for full-time professors would provide greater scope for involvement of more junior members of the academic staff.
c) Elected membership would enable those individuals with the greatest commitment to the role to be selected irrespective of academic status.
d) As the Senate was dominated by professorial staff, the Boards should present openings for other academic staff.
It was noted that the view of those present was that full-time professors should not receive automatic membership of the Boards, but should be included in the electorate.
It was noted that finance for the proposals might be restricted.
To be arranged.
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