Minutes of the meeting of General Assembly held on 9 FEBRUARY 2011
Present: 28 members signed the attendance list.
The Minutes of General Assembly held on 10 March 2009 were accepted as an accurate record.
The Minutes of General Assembly held on 21 June 2010 were accepted as an accurate record.
2. Matters Arising
There were no matters arising.
3. Vice-Chancellor’s Report
3.1 The New Funding Environment
The Vice-Chancellor began her report by highlighting the successes of the University, noting in particular that Loughborough had made significant progress on its strategy ‘Towards 2016’. Loughborough was a financially robust, leading institution. These successes would assist when meeting the challenges presented by the current financial climate.
The Vice-Chancellor reviewed the challenges facing the HE sector, and noted that as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, Higher Education faced cuts of 40% over the next four years (with teaching income reduced by 80% during this time). It was anticipated that funding for Band C and D programmes would be fully withdrawn by 2012/13 and that public funding for teaching would be completely focused on priority subject areas.
It was noted that the government had approved a new system of graduate contributions and that this would see the tuition fee cap raised to £9K. It was likely that the facility to charge this level of fees would be linked to an new Access Agreement due to be submitted in March 2011. The cost of student loans would need to be controlled by the government with any overspend likely be recovered via the HEFCE settlement. A Higher Education White Paper addressing some of these issues was expected in Spring 2011. The Vice-Chancellor highlighted that the Browne Report had envisaged a future market driven by student choice.
It was acknowledged that higher fees did not represent enhanced income to the sector. Instead, greater student contributions towards tuition would simply replace the funding lost as a result of the forthcoming cuts. Public perception would not necessarily reflect this.
3.2 Financial Position at Loughborough
The Director of Finance then addressed the key points of the December 2010 BIS letter to HEFCE, concerning allocations for 2011/12. 2011/12 would be a year of transition and it was noted that whilst the cuts would begin to take effect from April 2011, higher tuition fees could not be charged until 2012/13.
The Teaching Grant would be reduced by 6%, and it had also become apparent that there would be a further concentration of Research funding, including a removal of funding for 2* research. Capital funding would be reduced by 61% (Research) and 54% (Teaching). The interaction between the University and industry would become ever more important as HEIF would further reward high performing institutions.
The University faced immediate and difficult decisions, with a requirement to submit a tuition fee proposal and Access Agreement by the end of March 2011, but without full details of plans for government funding beyond 2012-13. The sector faced several years of change.
It was reported that extensive scenario planning had been undertaken with regards to various tuition fee options. Viable levels of surplus to maintain capital investment in the campus would only be generated at a tuition fee level of £9K.
It was noted that a number of Value for Money programmes were in place and that through services working more effectively together, costs could be reduced. It was also reported that a Group had been set up to plan strategy for the new fee regime and that in particular the views of current Loughborough students were being sought.
In response to a question, the Vice-Chancellor noted that the view of current students appeared to favour a uniform fee that would reflect the importance of the Loughborough ‘Student Experience’. However, it was noted that students paying more for courses that cost less to deliver could prove divisive.
4. University Structure
The Vice-Chancellor provided an update regarding the ongoing implementation of the new University structure – the key focus of which was to ensure that the University was operating robustly in light of the challenging external environment.
The Project Management Board had made good progress and 9 out of 10 Deans of School had been appointed. The appointment of Associate Deans, Heads of Department and Operations Managers was imminent and a much more consistent management structure across the ten schools was the intended outcome.
It was noted that in terms of communication, a website had been established which included FAQs as well as an updated timeline. Q&A sessions had been held in January and it was anticipated that these would be extended.
It was noted that a paper addressing the proposed changes to the Charter and Statutes had been made available via the agenda. Any comments regarding these should be directed to the Academic Registrar.
5. Pay and Pensions
The Chief Operating Officer reported that the UCEA had made a final offer of 0.4% which had been rejected by UCU. The EIS dispute process had been exhausted and UCU were balloting their members with regard to industrial action. UCEA will proceed with the 0.4% increase, with effect from 1 August 2010.
The USS Pension consultation had ended in December 2010 and revised proposals had been prepared. These included amended provisions relating to members re-joining the scheme and the promotion of support staff into USS eligible posts. The USS Joint Negotiating Committee would consider these proposals, with any agreed changes to be implemented in April 2011.
6. Any Other Business
There were no other items of business.
7. Date of Next Meeting
To be confirmed.
Author: Mark Lister/Jennifer Nutkins
Date: 15th March 2011
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