General Assembly


Minutes of the Sixty-fourth Meeting of the General Assembly held on 20 March 2002.

Present: 63 members signed the attendance list. Apologies were received from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and the Bursar.

1. Minutes

The Minutes of the sixty-third meeting of the General Assembly held on 10 October 2001 were confirmed as a true record.

2. Matters Arising

The Vice-Chancellor reported that it was noted at the recent meeting of Council that work in Departments in structural deficit was proceeding according to plan. The two proposed redundancies in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering had been halted by Council in the light of discussions with individuals.

3. Vice-Chancellor’s Report

The Vice-Chancellor’s report concentrated mainly on the 2002/03 grant allocation received from HEFCE, compared with the 2001/02 allocation:


  1. Teaching Funds - taught student income had risen by 5.5% as a result of a 1.7% per student funding increase and the award of a some 90 additional student numbers to the University. The Vice-Chancellor commented that the University’s strategy was to aim for a modest rise in the number of UK/EU students, but not to seek a large increase because of limitations imposed by the campus infrastructure.
  2. Widening Participation and Disability - the University’s funds for these areas were now approximately £0.5m, underlining the importance the government puts on its widening access policies.
  3. Research - the University had received an increase of just over £523,000, which was average for the sector. The Vice-Chancellor reported that a few universities had gained substantially from the RAE, whilst others had lost significantly. Those HEIs who had gained would be investing to maintain their lead, while those who had lost would be restructuring. Loughborough, being in the middle ground, also had to change and invest or it would be left behind.
  4. Rewarding and Developing Staff – HEFCE approved the University’s HR Strategy as ‘emerging’ in 2001/02. Around £1.2m was available for 2002/03, most of which would go into rewards for academic and non-academic staff and improvements in systems.
  5. The Vice-Chancellor outlined the University’s position in comparison to key competitors.

In summary, the Vice-Chancellor reported a fairly good settlement for the whole sector, with Loughborough being broadly average. This was encouraging for the University, but there was no room for complacency.

4. Performance Review Scheme (ga02-p1)

Patrick Cole introduced the proposed Performance Review Scheme developed by the Human Resources Working Group. It was generally felt that the existing appraisal scheme was not working as well as it should – it was accepted that it was too complex and that a two year gap between appraisals was too long. HEFCE had identified six priority areas for HEIs, one of which was annual performance reviews for all staff, with rewards given where appropriate. The University had been granted £3.9m over three years subject to receipt of a satisfactory Strategy in June 2002. The proposed Performance Review Scheme was a central part of this Strategy.

The Scheme would involve the identification of targets and training needs for all staff. Ratings would be used to inform the process of accelerated increments and/or lump sum payments, as well as performance-related pay for Professorial and ALC6 staff. The three campus Unions were currently being consulted about the Scheme, following which it would be discussed by the Human Resources Committee, for final approval by Council on 19th April. The first set of reviews needed to commence as quickly as possible, so targets can be set ready for review in May/June 2003.

A detailed discussion took place. Points raised included:

  1. It was suggested that the current appraisal scheme was working well. However, it was noted that its implementation was very patchy.
  2. Staff involved in the process already have too heavy a workload with a bi-annual process, and would not cope with an annual process plus identifying six-monthly research objectives.
  3. The new scheme appeared to allow reviewers to set targets without the agreement of the individual under review, and some members expressed disquiet at the linkage between development and performance evaluation in the new scheme.
  4. The Vice-Chancellor agreed that there would be some extra work involved, particularly for reviewers, but stressed that the University had more money to distribute to staff and needed a fair mechanism to do so. Clear guidance would be given to reviewers over the setting of objectives, the support that was appropriate, and how to make that process agreeable between all involved.
  5. A representative of the AUT commented that the Union had a number of concerns about the new scheme and also felt that the timetable for implementation was unachievable.
  6. The Vice-Chancellor gave reassurance that Performance Review data would not be used to deny staff a normal salary increment, and that the funds given to the University for HR purposes would be used specifically for those purposes.
  1. A member asked how the new Scheme would fit in with the probation process. Patrick Cole replied that once a person completed their probationary period, they would move into the Performance Review Scheme. The Scheme would not prevent a probationer receiving a recommendation for additional reward.
  2. A further question was asked whether teams could be reviewed together. Patrick Cole replied that this had been considered, but it was felt too difficult to draw boundaries around a team.
  3. A member commented that from previous experience, performance review was extremely helpful for staff development, provided there is support from the Head of Department or other management.

The Vice-Chancellor thanked those present for their comments, and reported that they would be taken into account in the finalisation of the scheme. It was agreed that the timetable was tight, and that implementation would only be partial this year, with achievement against objectives being evaluated for most staff for the first time in 2003.

Research Management (ga02-p2)

Professor Neil Halliwell outlined the proposed Personal Research Planning process. Twenty two per cent of the University’s staff were not returned in the 2001 RAE, which resulted in a loss of approximately £2m for the University. Key competitors did not return around 7-10% of staff. Loughborough therefore needed to find a way of raising its research profile with a minimum of bureaucracy. The proposed Research Performance Monitoring Group was a method of reviewing research performance on a more consistent basis, rather than just before the next RAE.

A question was asked whether two cycles of meetings were planned – Research Review and Performance Review. Professor Halliwell reassured the meeting that the Personal Research Planning Review was designed to complement and feed into the Performance Review Scheme, not be additional to it. A single form for Personal Research Plans was under discussion with the Deans for use from next year.

5. University Financial Position

Bob Hinds spoke about the University’s financial position. At 31 July 2001 the University had a surplus of £3m, against a target of £1.6m. On the basis of recent HEFCE performance indicators, the University was financially strong compared to many others in the sector. The Finance Office could supply detailed information on all the HEFCE performance indicators on request.

The University was on course to meet the financial strategy for 2001/02 agreed by Council. The 2002/03 grant from HEFCE was average for the sector, and because of pressures of inflation and other areas, the next budget round could be as tough as usual, however, it was anticipated that the University would see increased income from international students. The Budgetary Review Group had held an initial meeting to set priorities.

A member enquired about progress with establishing a development fund for research. The Vice-Chancellor reported that discussions were still ongoing but he hoped that Council would consider spending against the HEFCE 3% target surplus for purposes of strategic restructuring.

6. Any Other Business

There was no other business.

7. Date of Next Meeting

To be confirmed.

Author: JC Nutkins/WJ Ferguson

Date: 28 March 2002

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