Minutes of the Sixty-seventh meeting of the General Assembly held on 16 March 2005.
Present: 30 members signed the attendance list. One apology for absence was received.
The Minutes of the sixty-seventh meeting of the General Assembly held on 17 March 2004 were accepted as a true record.
2. Matters Arising
There were no matters arising.
3. The Research Assessment Exercise 2008
The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) provided an overview of the University’s current position regarding the RAE exercise scheduled to take place in 2008.
The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) clarified how the exercise would be carried out and detailed how the various panels and sub-panels, which have begun meeting, would contribute to the process. This was followed by a detailed overview of the quality profile and how this would be determined by the Research Outputs, Research Environments and Esteem Indicators.
It was noted that part-time and Category C colleagues could be particularly important in enhancing the quality profile.
4. Update on the University’s Strategic Review
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor delivered a report detailing the progress of both the Strategic Review and the Estates Strategy Review, commenting that it was the University’s intention to be a 21st Century University in pursuit of the highest quality international excellence. It was recognised that the University continues to change and develop, which would in turn impact on both its size and character, as well as external perceptions.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor then provided a more detailed overview of the Estates Review, which has been tasked to look at the capacity of Estates to meet the demands of University expansion for the next 10-20 years, in the context of the Local Development Framework for Charnwood Borough Council.
Information was provided relating to a number of planned developments, which it was hoped would preserve the character of the campus. Particular attention was drawn to the development of the Post Graduate School and the proposed plans for four Research Schools.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor concluded that the outputs of each review were coming together satisfactorily, and that they would be due for submission to HEFCE in 2007.
Further updates will follow.
5. Access Agreement
The Senior Assistant Registrar reported that the Access Agreement has now been submitted and approved in its entirety by the Office For Fair Access (OFFA).
It was confirmed that from 2006/07 academic year, a £3000 annual tuition fee would be charged by Loughborough University for all of its courses, with the exception of the sandwich year which will remain at its present rate. The schedule of means tested bursaries was discussed. In addition, merit based scholarships would be available from some departments in Science and Engineering. It was noted that the approved proposals for tuition fee charges and the accompanying financial support represented a straightforward and clear package of support.
Other elements of the Access Agreement were detailed including an increased provision of widening participation outreach work, involving greater numbers of current Loughborough students as well as an increased provision of financial support information.
It was commented that the milestones detailed in the Access Agreement were challenging but realistic, and that Loughborough University was committed to increasing the numbers of under represented groups at the institution
A member queried whether there would be an ongoing review of the success of the bursary scheme, and it was confirmed that this would be done on an annual basis. It was commented that the financial cost of bursaries would increase as the targets for widening participation were met. It was also confirmed that the duration of the Access Agreement with OFFA would be five years.
A member queried how scholarships would be paid for, and it was confirmed that funding would be derived from the additional income generated by additional tuition fees. It was noted that in total 20% of additional income generated would be used as part of the bursary package, with the remaining 80% being available for other purposes.
6. The National Student Survey
The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching) reported on the current situation regarding the National Student Survey. This survey, which was launched in February, is being conducted by Ipsos UK and has targeted all final year undergraduate students.
It was reported that thus far there has been a 50% response rate, which compares favourably within the sector. The high response rate is pleasing in view of the difficulties experienced by students when completing the email form. These difficulties were of a technical nature, stemming from Ipsos UK and would be placed on record with the Funding Council.
The results of the survey will be published on the Teaching Quality Information (TQI) website towards the end of summer 2005, and will be sub-divided by subject grouping. Colleagues will be advised of the outcomes
7. Update on Job Evaluation
The Director of Personnel Services reported on the current progress of the Job Evaluation Scheme which is currently being undertaken using the Hay method.
A number of evaluation phases are currently being undertaken with a view to being completed for Spring 2005, at which point proposals for the new pay scales will be put to the Trade Unions. Further clarification was given regarding the terminology of the process, in particular that of job families and how they are identified. It was noted that significant work had been undertaken by the evaluators and they were thanked for their commitment.
A question was raised as to the likely outcome for those employees that were Red Circled. An explanation of the term Red Circle was provided, and it was noted that pay could be protected for up to 4 years. Alternatives could include an employee’s job being further developed, or the employee being re-posted.
In response to further questions, it was also confirmed that an appeals procedure would be in place once a decision had been made, and that terms and conditions would be the same for all employees across each level of the Hay scale.
The Vice-Chancellor noted that as of yet it is unclear what the cost of job evaluation will be to the University in terms of increased salaries
8. University Financial Position
The Bursar presented the University’s current financial position. It was confirmed that there had been an international student tuition fee income shortfall and that at present there are some 200 empty rooms in the halls of residence.
A comparison was drawn between the HEFCE grant for 2004/05 and 2005/06, and the figures for these were clarified. It was noted that there had been an increase in the levels of widening participation funding.
The Bursar also noted that tuition fee income wouldexceed that of Funding Council income before 2010. It was also noted that there is likely to be a requirement for increased employer contributions to pension funds.
9. Vice-Chancellor’s Report
The Vice-Chancellor began by commenting that the previous reports had provided a thorough overview of the major issues that are now prevalent within the sector.
The Vice Chancellor then drew a comparison between the University’s current position and that of 1992/3. Particular attention was given to the increased numbers of students, the University’s improved positions in league tables and the improved ratings for both Teaching Quality Excellence and the Research Assessment Exercise.
The Vice-Chancellor concluded that the University was well placed for the future, with its academic reputation enhanced and a strong renewed asset base.
10. Any Other Business
There were no other items of business.
11. Date of Next Meeting
To be confirmed.
Author: M Lister
Date: 18 March 2005
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