6. Preparation of Papers
- Papers should be as concise as possible, bearing in mind the intended audience.
- All papers should identify clearly (by typing in bold) the action that the Committee is asked to take. The author should be clear together with any previous committees which have considered the paper.
- Papers relating to changes in ordinances, regulations or procedures should clearly indicate the ‘with effect from…’ date and detail any transitional arrangements that may apply.
- Once a paper has been submitted into the committee system, amendments and/or modifications should normally only be carried out on the recommendation of the committee(s) considering the paper and should be clearly recorded in the minutes of relevant meetings. Exceptionally other amendments may be permitted, for example corrections of errors of fact or updating in the light of new information. However, any such changes must be clear in the paper itself or on the cover paper so that members of higher committees are explicitly aware of the changes.
6.2 Format and Numbering
- Papers whose ultimate destination is Senate and/or Council should always include a formal coversheet (Annex 6) and it is good practice to use this routinely for other major items to ensure that key aspects e.g. link to strategy, options considered and risk are explicitly covered. As a minimum papers should include the name of the Committee, and the subject, origin, date of the paper, relevance to strategy and action required. Where a paper is submitted by an individual, their name, status and School/section should be included under origin if at all possible.
- Papers should, as far as possible, use Arial font-style, size 11. Pages should be numbered.
- All papers should be numbered to identify the Committee, the calendar year, and the consecutive paper number, e.g. SEN05-P34 (see also Annex 4).
- At the top-right corner of the paper, the paper number and date of meeting should be set out.
- A paper which needs approval by several committees will normally be given a new paper number for each new committee at which it is considered. The paper should ideally make clear whether it is the same as the version considered by the previous committee (with reference to the previous paper number) or whether any amendments have been made. In the case of the latter, and/or if the minute from the more junior committee contains substantive issues of which the more senior body needs to be aware, a cover paper setting out the report from the junior committee should be prepared. This should be headed and numbered in accordance with the system for the committee to which the item is to be submitted whilst the attachment retains its original heading and number if unchanged.
6.3 Submission and Circulation of Papers
- As far as possible, committees should be operated on a “paperless” basis with documents stored and accessed electronically both by the Secretary and members. The Committees website is intended to facilitate this approach and documents representing “work in progress” should be stored in workspaces.
- The agenda and papers should be finalised 5 working days in advance of the meeting, if at all possible and mounted on the Committees website as soon as possible with an email notification sent to members to alert them that the papers are now available. For senior committees, lengthy meetings, or those with a large membership, members should have the option of requesting a hardcopy set of papers if they prefer, but the default should be that committees operate on a paperless basis. In such cases, items in section B and C may be omitted from the hardcopy circulation for economy where all members are internal to the University as long as the papers have been mounted on the web. Working groups, perhaps working to shorter timescales and whose papers are not mounted on the web, may find it easier to circulate papers by email.
- Some committees have a list of people who receive papers for information only. The Secretary should review this list regularly. Those on this list should normally be expected to access the papers electronically.
- The Committee website should always be used to circulate papers for current meetings and as a repository of past documentation for committees in the formal governance structure. Separate websites and workspaces should not be set up to access papers. The website can also be used to share other documentation (e.g.key policies and procedures) with committee stakeholders on either an open or restricted basis. Advise on use of the site is available from the Programme Quality and Teaching Partnerships Office in the Academic Registry.
6.4 Late/Tabled Items and Papers
- Ideally all papers should be circulated in good time with the agenda. However, on occasion a paper will not be available in time but can be sent round as a late paper a few days before the meeting. Such papers should be clearly marked as “to follow” on the agenda.
- Occasionally the secretary will receive a request for a late agenda item with or without a paper after the deadline for the papers has passed. Acceptance of such items is at the discretion of the Chair, but as a general rule, late additions to the agenda should be avoided. If an item is accepted, the committee members should be informed and any late papers circulated before the meeting (time permitting).
- Papers should only be tabled at the meeting in exceptional circumstances, and the practice should be discouraged as it does not allow members time to consider the content in detail or to seek further advice and guidance from colleagues as appropriate. By definition tabled papers cannot be regarded as starred items as members would not have the opportunity to unstar them in advance. Where tabled papers are permitted, they should be circulated to any members not in attendance immediately after the meeting and added to the agenda of the meeting on the Committee website.
- All late and tabled papers should be given a paper number so clear reference to them can be made in the minutes and by other committees if required.