Court Minutes 31 March 2021

Confirmed minutes of the meeting of the University Court held at 3.10 pm on 31 March 2021 by Video Conference.


Court Members Court Members

Linda McPherson (Acting Chair),

Elaine Acaster OBE

Carolyn Bell

Professor Richard Butt,

Julie Churchill

Dr Maria Giatsi-Clausen

Colin Cox

Karen Cullen

Sir Paul Grice

Cynthia Guthrie

Professor John Harper

Dr Arturo Langa

Frank Lennon OBE

Ken McGarrity

hiara Menozzi

Melanie Moreland

Robert Pattullo

Sarah Phillips

Elizabeth Porter

Dr Eurig Scandrett

Dr Andrew Scott

Andy White


In Attendance  Department

Professor Fiona Coutts

Dean, Health Sciences

Gordon Craig

Head of Planning

Sophie Cunningham

Vice-President Elect, Student Union

Malcolm Cutt

Director of Operations and Finance

Irene Hynd

University Secretary (Secretary)

Neil Mackie

Acting Head of HR (agenda item 5.3)

Dawn Martin

Assistant Secretary, Governance and Quality Enhancement (Minute Secretary)

Aasiyah Patankar

President Elect, Student Union

Steve Scott

Director of Campus and Commercial Services

Professor David Stevenson

Acting Dean, Arts, Social Sciences and Management

Pamela Woodburn

Chair Elect, University Court


Welcome and Membership

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting of the University Court, which was being conducted virtually due to restrictions in place during the coronavirus emergency. As advised to members previously, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator had stated that charities may hold their meetings in this way, including where the governing document was silent on the matter. In line with good governance, Court discussion and decisions would be recorded in the usual form of confirmed minutes, approved by members.

Particular welcome was extended to Julie Churchill, newly appointed Senate member, and to the following attendees who were present as observers: Sophie Cunningham, Student Vice-President Elect, Aasiyah Patankar, Student President Elect, and Pamela Woodburn, Chair Elect. Members were advised that Aasiyah and Sophie would formally take up their roles on 10 June 2021. In response, new members thanked the Chair for the very warm welcome, reporting that they looked forward to being able to contribute to the work of the Court, and to the broader University in their respective roles.

Conflicts of Interest

There were no conflicts of interest declared.

Determination of other Competent Business

There was no other Competent Business identified.

Chair's Report

The Chair reported on her participation in a recent meeting held between a number of Chairs nominated by the Committee of Scottish Chairs (CSC), and Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science. The meeting had presented an opportunity to discuss a range of matters, including the following:

  • Funding arrangements: The Chairs discussed with the Minister the important contribution made by the HE sector to Scotland’s economic and wider societal recovery from Covid, and highlighted the need to recognise that contribution through sustainable funding provision. Statements within the phase two report of the SFC’s Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability concerning an improved, coherent funding model, were welcomed in particular.
  • International education and training: The potential benefits and limitations of the Turing Scheme were discussed, in so far as they could be determined at this early stage of the Scheme launch. CSC members expressed their considerable disappointment at the cessation of the Erasmus scheme, and suggested that further initiatives to support student and staff exchanges with established European partners would be welcomed.
  • Support for mental health: The Minister acknowledged the impact of the unprecedented challenges of the past year on individuals’ mental health and wellbeing. The Scottish Government was committed to working with the sector to provide targeted and accessible mental health and well-being support to students and staff.
  • UN Climate Change Conference (COP26): The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was due to be hosted in Glasgow in November 2021. The Conference presented a valuable opportunity for the sector to work collaboratively in support of the sustainability goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework
    Convention on Climate Change.

Principal's Report

Principal’s presentation

The Principal presented a detailed update on key developments since the meeting of the University Court held on 10 February 2021 (COURT (21) 11). Matters highlighted included the following:

(a) Update on semester two

The significant majority of teaching continued to be delivered online, reflecting the tightening of Government coronavirus restrictions over the winter closure period. The key issue for the remainder of Academic Year 2020-21 would be the extent to which it would be possible to increase the amount of in-person teaching delivered. This remained a complex issue, with many factors to balance at both a national and University level. The University remained committed to in person delivery wherever possible, in recognition of the benefits in terms both of student learning and student welfare. The Senior Leadership Team and Business Continuity Group continued to work through the implications of possible relaxations in the current restrictions.

As detailed in the minutes of the Senate meeting held on 17 March 2021 (presented at agenda item 12), the Senate had taken a number of decisions on assessment regulations, examination boards, and the start of Academic Year 2021-22. Importantly, the current emergency assessment regulations had been extended to the end of 2020- 21 to ensure continued fairness, equity and integrity in decisions concerning student academic progress.

Senate had also approved a recommendation from the Senior Leadership Team that the start of academic year 2021-22 be delayed by one week, with induction week starting on Monday 13 September 2021, and Semester 1 commencing on Monday 20 September 2021. The start of Semester 2 would also be delayed by one week, and would commence on Monday 17 January 2022.

The University continued to engage fully with the Scottish Government and other agencies on arrangements for student Covid testing. Weekly reports continued to be provided to the Scottish Government on Covid cases within the University. Over the period since the start of the January, a total of 8 students had tested positive for Covid- 19, of which 3 were in university halls and 5 in private accommodation off campus. Three staff have tested positive during that period. No cases of on-campus transmission had been reported.

(b) Ministerial Task Force

As reported previously, the Principal had been appointed to represent Universities Scotland on the Further and Higher Education Ministerial Task Force. The Task Force provided a forum to identify and to respond to cross-cutting issues, and to bring together a range of stakeholders, including the Scottish Funding Council, trade unions and NUS. The Task Force had met twice since the most recent Court meeting, with a particular focus at those meetings on the challenges affecting Scotland’s colleges. There was broad consensus on the main challenges and the measures required, individually and collectively, to address them.

An associated Working Group chaired by the Principal had also met twice. The Working Group had a particular remit to look at the ability of students to graduate this year and how best to support new and continuing students. Further updates on the work of the Task Force would come to future meetings of the Court.

(c) Student support

The University had been pleased to receive from the Scottish Government an allocation of Coronavirus Discretionary Funds to support students experiencing hardship due to the coronavirus emergency. The Principal extended his sincere thanks to staff in Student Services and in the Finance Office for their hard work in ensuring effective distribution of the extra payments. Thanks were extended also officers of the Students’ Union for their exceptional efforts and leadership during this period. An update on the work undertaken by the Students’ Union during the pandemic was provided separately under agenda item 5.2.

The Principal reported on arrangements to mark the achievements of the 2020 and 2021 graduating cohorts. Unfortunately, plans published previously for graduation ceremonies at the Usher Hall in mid-July were not likely to be possible under restrictions on indoor gatherings likely to be in place at that date. The University was actively considering alternative arrangements, an update on which would come to a future meeting of the Court.

(d)  The staff experience

The Principal again paid tribute to all staff for their continued efforts to support the delivery of learning and teaching and to provide a high level of pastoral care. The University continued to work to support staff, including providing specific guidance to staff dealing with childcare and caring responsibilities when working at home. Additional leave days had been put in in place over the Easter period, with staff being provided with rest days on Friday, 2 April and Monday, 5 April. Further detailed information on staff support and wellbeing would be provided in the presentation from the Acting Head of HR (Minute 5.3 refers).

(e)  Student Recruitment

The Admissions Team continued to process applications and to determine applicant fee status. The positive position advised in the Principal’s previous report to the Court remained. As at 22 March 2021, undergraduate applications were some 11% higher than at the same time the previous year. Home and Rest of UK applications were also quite significantly higher, as were international applications. Whilst EU students were now included in the latter fee category, their inclusion did not account fully for the increase in applications. Republic of Ireland applications were down slightly. Postgraduate numbers had increased, but it was too early in the postgraduate recruitment cycle to draw any firm conclusions on likely final numbers.

(f)  Financial position

The forecast outturn for the year, as reported in the quarter two update, remained broadly in line with the position reported after quarter one. Members were advised that, on 24 March, the Scottish Funding Council had announced additional grant funding for 2020-21. This would reduce the level of the 2020-21 forecast deficit. The University had applied successfully to the Scottish Funding Council for Financial Transactions loan funding, which would be used to repay 10% of the existing Barclays loan. The saving realised on interest payments would provide part of the funding required to undertake remedial works in the student accommodation. This arrangement would also have the benefit of reducing Barclays’ level of exposure to the University, and might assist the University in its discussions around refinancing of the loan. Additional detail on the financial position was provided in the financial update papers presented to Court (Minutes 7.1 and 7.2 below refer).

(g)  Research Excellence Framework

The full University Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission had been subject to detailed scrutiny through the REF Strategy Group and Research Strategy Committee, and an overview report considered by the Senate. The Equality and Diversity Committee had considered the associated Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) at an Extraordinary meeting of the Committee held on Friday 26 February 2021 (minute 15 below refers).

The Principal thanked the Deputy Principal for his leadership of the REF preparations. Thanks were extended also to academic and professional services colleagues for their contributions to this important initiative.

(h)  Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability

The Scottish Funding Council had issued a brief update report on phase two of its review of coherence and sustainability. In phase two, the SFC had focused on policy development in a range of areas, including: funding, planning and delivery of Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships, the digital learning experience, regional development, and access and inequalities. While the stated intention remained to provide a final report and recommendations in summer 2021, there was recognition in the update that SFC’s engagement with partners and stakeholders had been significantly affected by the external environment and the need to respond to the current coronavirus emergency.

(i)  Planning assumptions – summer period 2021 and medium term

As reported previously to members, the Senior Leadership Team had commissioned a detailed piece of work to proactively identify and manage the various streams of work involved in delivering on all aspects of the university’s work in Academic Year 2021-22 and beyond. The Deputy Principal provided further detailed information on planning assumptions for Academic Year 2021-22 under minute 5.2. Looking beyond the next academic year, the focus would be on future approaches to learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange, strategic collaboration, investment priorities, and overall financial objectives and approach. This would be reflected in revisions to the Delivery Plan, which would in turn be considered at a proposed University Court Strategy day, the date of which would be subject to agreement by members.

In discussion, members commented variously as follows:

Post-election strategic considerations: The Principal was invited to expand on the University’s medium to longer term planning assumptions in view of the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections. In response, a number of factors were outlined that would influence strategic priorities, irrespective of the election outcome. These included the University’s responsiveness to funding decisions, and to the wider challenges facing Scotland during the recovery from the pandemic. As a small and agile institution, the University was well placed to respond flexibly and creatively in terms of the development of its portfolio, and other matters. Court members’ guidance and expertise would be invaluable during this critical period, and the Principal expressed his thanks to members for their continued support and effective working relationship with the Senior Leadership Team.

Recruitment: Members were interested to learn more about application numbers, relative to any sector trends. The Deputy Principal advised that the University’s distinctive portfolio meant that, overall, it was potentially less vulnerable to recruitment fluctuations. However, within the overall positive application position for the forthcoming year, programmes that were over-subscribed were balanced by a number that were currently under subscribed. While European Union applications had reduced considerably, no significant financial detriment was attached to that, on the grounds that many EU applications were to over-subscribed programmes. These programmes were attractive also to students from the Republic of Ireland, and irrespective of a small decline in ROI applications, it was expected that there would be strong recruitment from this market.

Research and innovation: Members were interested to learn more about the possible future direction of research and innovation funding, in so far as this could be determined. It was noted that recent cuts to research funding had given some cause for concern, although the impact was relatively less acute on the University than on many other larger HEIs. More positively, the University Innovation Fund (UIF) allocation, which was informed by the University’s Outcome Agreement, would support a range of relevant innovation activity. It was anticipated that there would be further detail on research and innovation in phase three of the SFC Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability, developing the preliminary information presented in the phase one and two reports.

5.2 Students’ Union Overview report

The Student President and Student Vice-President provided an overview of adaptations to student activities during 2020-21, including sports and societies and representation.

As reported previously to the Court, the traditional September Freshers’ week, welcoming students to QMU, had been delivered as a three-week blended programme. Despite the Covid restrictions, there had been good engagement with sports and societies, with risk assessed in-person sport and physical activity delivered on campus where possible. Thanks were extended to the University for funding a dedicated post to support the Students’ Union (SU) in its compliance with Covid regulations. Students had also appreciated the provision of the marquee on campus, which had facilitated more live interactions. Particular highlights noted in the presentation included the fundraising undertaken for men’s health charities, and the establishment of the Food Pantry in partnership with the Cyrenians charity, providing affordable, healthy food to students on campus each week.

Representation had moved successfully online, with training and meetings conducted virtually. The Sabbatical Officers had represented the student voice on relevant groups, and continued to do so. These included the Business Continuity Group, and return to campus work streams. Students had also influenced University policy around changes to assessment regulations, and other matters, through their representation on senior committees including the Senate. The recent student elections had been held online, with a turnout of 10%, which was higher than the sector average.

The Students’ Union had conducted two surveys to gather feedback on the student experience of learning and teaching. The first of these had been conducted in May 2020, shortly after the emergency pivot to online learning, and the second in October 2020.The survey results had been shared with key stakeholders internally and externally to support wider sector debate.

A key message from the surveys was that students favoured at least some element of face-to-face learning and teaching. Another important theme highlighted was the impact of the lack of social interaction on mental health. The results from the surveys and wider experiences during 2020-21 were being used to inform the Students’ Union planning for 2021-22, as well as the University’s future adaptations to learning and teaching. There was particular recognition that the majority of 2021 entrants to Higher Education would have experienced two years of disrupted learning, and the Students’ Union and University were committed to supporting their transition and facilitating as much in- person engagement as possible.

The Chair thanked the Student President and Vice-President for their comprehensive presentation, which captured the breadth of activity progressed under the auspices of the Students’ Union, and in partnership with the University, during the pandemic. Thanks were extended also to the wider Students’ Union team, including the Officers’Committee, and to Class and Sports and Societies Representatives for their on-going commitment and flexibility.

5.3 Planning Assumptions 2021-22

The Deputy Principal provided an overview of planning assumptions for the 2021-22 Academic Year. Members were advised that they were informed by engagements with Scottish Government officials and sector colleagues, including discussion at weekly meetings of universities’ Covid Leads. Key priorities underpinning the planning assumptions were the health, safety and welfare of students and staff, and the delivery of a positive student experience.

It was expected that semester one would commence as planned, with no staggered intake. Large group lectures would be delivered online and recorded, with smaller group learning and learning in laboratory, practical and performance spaces taking place on campus. There would be full access to the campus library and study space facilities, and student support services would be delivered face to face (as was the case currently), with some provision continuing to be delivered online.

A combination of risk mitigations would likely remain in place, in line with Scottish Government Guidance. These could include some degree of physical distancing, combined with reduced room occupancy and improved ventilation. At this stage, it was unknown whether there would be a testing requirement for students returning to campus in September 2021. Other matters to be clarified were the suitability of student accommodation for managed isolation (quarantine), and arrangements for student vaccination. In response to a specific question, the Deputy Principal confirmed that there were no plans to extend the teaching day, as it was important to balance a positive student experience and staff workload within the planned adaptations framework. However, this had worked well in semester one and could be revisited if necessary.

5.4 Staff Well-being and Support

Members RECEIVED a presentation from the Acting Head of HR on wellbeing and other support in place for staff of the University during the coronavirus emergency.

Members were advised that dedicated staff Internet and Intranet repositories had been created, and were regularly updated, communicating across a range of matters, including adjusting to working from home, IT support, physical and mental health and wellbeing, caring responsibilities, business continuity and staying connected with the QMU community. This was supplemented by a staff FAQ site and regular staff Moderator communications.

Mandatory online training packages were in place, covering both home working and return to campus, when applicable. All QMU staff had access to the Online Employee Assistance Service, Be Supported, and to the Togetherall online mental health and wellbeing community. Covid risk assessments were accessible to all staff and updated monthly, or more frequently as required. A return to campus checklist had also been developed.

Staff had recently been provided with the opportunity to participate in a wellbeing survey, the results from which had been used to develop an action plan, as reported previously to the Court. A separate stress risk assessment was due to be launched over the coming weeks. Staff and managers were encouraged and supported to maintain regular contact within and beyond their immediate teams. The Senior Leadership Team had held a number of open online discussion sessions for staff to ask questions, highlight concerns and provide feedback. As noted earlier in the meeting, additional rest days had been provided in early April.

Members were interested to learn how staff had responded to the revised working arrangements, and whether any positive aspects of that might be carried forward. The Acting Head of HR explained that staff experiences varied, and that the University was mindful of differing circumstances and needs. All staff were invited to access training on stress management, both to help them manage their own circumstances and to support colleagues experiencing stress. Many positive aspects had been reported, including a better work life balance for some staff. These were being considered in preparation for the development of revised guidance on working from home/flexible working to assist staff to re-engage with the campus environment.

In response to a specific question concerning support to staff in accessing vaccine appointments, it was confirmed, while vaccine uptake remained an individual decision, staff were encouraged and facilitated to access such appointments.

The Chair thanked the Acting Head of HR for the very informative presentation, and commended the Senior Leadership team on their flexible and supportive approach. As the Acting Head of HR was due to return to his substantive post in April 2021, the Principal took the opportunity to thank him for his outstanding contribution during his time with QMU.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

The unconfirmed minutes of the Court meeting held on 10 February 2021 (COURT (21) MINS 01) were APPROVED as an accurate record, subject to Elizabeth Porter being added to the list of members present.

Finance and KPIS

Financial performance and updated forecast outturn position

Court RECEIVED an update on financial performance for the six months to 31 January 2021, and the updated forecast outturn position (Court (21) 12).

Introducing the paper, the Director of Operations and Finance reiterated the position outlined previously by the Principal that there had been a small improvement in the forecast outturn to a deficit of £2.1 million (Minute 5.1 (f) refers). This position assumed further accommodation fee refunds and loss of summer commercial business in summer 2021. The cash flow forecast showed cash balances remaining comfortably above the covenant level of £5 million. Additional SFC allocations for 2020-21 had been announced in the previous week. These included funds for research activity, protecting jobs and helping students; capital funding for research and knowledge exchange; and funds to mitigate, in part, the cost of providing rebates and refunds of accommodation fees to students as a result of Covid. The total additional funding was just under £1.2 million. Some of this would be spent in the year 2020-21, but an element would be used to offset loss of income and additional costs incurred, and this would reduce the year end deficit.

SFC initial funding allocations for 2021-22 had also been announced in the previous week. There had been an overall increase in the University’s teaching and research funding of 3.9% (£644k) on a like for like basis. This included an increase of £104k to reflect additional intake numbers resulting from the changes to SQA exam arrangements. Global Challenges Research Funding had been withdrawn by the UK Government, but there had been an increase of 10% in the University Innovation Fund (UIF). Funding for Graduate Apprenticeships was moving from Skills Development Scotland to the SFC. A small reduction in level of capital maintenance funding had been applied. Further allocations were awaited, including confirmation of additional funded numbers for controlled subjects. The allocations announced thus far showed an increase of 4.8% above the level assumed in the previous forecast figures used for the going concern analysis.

Plans and budgets for Academic Year 2021-22 were being prepared, although there remained a number of uncertainties around the implications of Covid. Financial forecasts would come to the University Court for approval at the meeting on 23 June 2021.

The Chair thanked the Director of Operations and Finance for the detailed update, noting that the financial position was more positive than might have been expected, although some challenges remained.

In discussion, further detail was requested on the number of students in the residences, and it was confirmed that there had been an occupancy of around 400 students consistently since January 2021, which had increased to 450 more recently. Members asked also whether there was likely to be further additional funding linked to SQA exam adjustments in 2021, in response to which it was stated that no announcement had been made.

The University Court NOTED the Q2 financial update and the updated financial position for 2020/21.

7.2 Key Performance Indicators

Court RECEIVED the Second Quarter Key Performance Indicators (KPI) report and APPROVED proposals for the development and implementation of a revised suite of KPIs (Court (21) 13).

Introducing the paper, the Head of Planning explained that the Senior Leadership Team and Finance and Estates Committee had given further consideration to the revised suite of KPIs following Court discussion in autumn 2020. Particular consideration had been given to the inclusion of additional lead indicators, which would be of greater use in alerting management to the need to take action at an early stage. It was proposed that the quarterly reporting to Court should remain but with a focus on the data available, areas of particular concern and interest. This would have the advantage of providing more targeted information and reducing repetition with financial updates. A full report on the outturn would be provided annually. Work on determining the full set of KPIs was ongoing, and an update would come to a future meeting of the Court.

The main updates from the Second Quarter related to student access, research and innovation, student numbers and fee income. The following matters were highlighted:

  • The percentage of HN students admitted with advanced standing, and the percentage of students from BAME backgrounds, were slightly below target.
  • The percentage of students from SIMD20 postcodes was below target. However, core Commission on Widening Access targets had been met. SIMD20 targets would be subject to further discussion with the SFC as part of the ongoing development of the 2021-22 Outcome Agreement.
  • Student numbers looked to be above target, and now included the January 2021 intake.
  • The University Innovation Fund and Research Excellence Grant income reflected the SFC allocations.
  • The number of graduate start-ups remained above target, but the use of Innovation Vouchers had been affected by Covid. It was anticipated that this would recover once restrictions eased.

Land Development Update

Court RECEIVED an update from the Director of Campus and Commercial Services on the Land Development project.

As reported previously, the main activity continued to be the development of the Full Business Case (FBC) for the Edinburgh Innovation Hub. A further draft had been submitted at the end of February to the Project Management Office (PMO) of the City Deal, following which the PMO had advised that the Business Case was in a position to be submitted for approval to the Joint Committee on 4 June 2021. Prior to this, it would be necessary to conclude internal discussions and secure approval both from the Finance and Estates Committee and the Court. A Sub-group of FEC had met on 30 March 2021 to consider progress with the FBC, and a further meeting was planned for the week commencing 19 April 2021. At that meeting, FEC would review a further iteration of the FBC and the associated Heads of Terms plus a further supporting paper identifying the benefits realisation for the University, the financial and non-financial implications of progressing with the Hub, and the resource impacts (both risks and rewards).

Members were asked to note that an Extraordinary meeting of the Court would be scheduled for w/c 26 April 2021 to consider the near final FBC, prior to submission to the Joint Committee.

Freedom if Information Compliance Report

Court NOTED the annual report on Freedom of Information, Environmental Information Regulations, Data Protection and Records Management activity for calendar year 2020 (Court (21) 14). Thanks were extended to staff involved in the oversight of these key areas of compliance, and to the paper author.

Finance and Estates Compliance Report

Court NOTED the annual report on Freedom of Information, Environmental Information Regulations, Data Protection and Records Management activity for calendar year 2020 (Court (21) 14). Thanks were extended to staff involved in the oversight of these key areas of compliance, and to the paper author.

  • Long term maintenance (minute 6.1 refers): The Director of Campus and Commercial Services updated members on planned remedial fire safety works in the student accommodation, noting that the work was necessary to protect the University’s assets, but that there was no safety risk to occupants. A scheme of works had been agreed, detailing procurement arrangements and actions to be taken over a five year period.
  • Energy procurement (minute 6.2 refers): FEC had considered a paper detailing the current condition of the Biomass plant, the impact that this had on the intended contractual renewal and the options that were being investigated around the potential wider area energy supply scheme. This item was subject to further consideration at a future FEC meeting.

Audit and Risk Committee

Court RECEIVED the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Risk Committee held on 26 February 2021 (AUDIT (21) MINS 02). Members noted the planned discussion with the internal auditors on risk appetite (minute 4 refers).


Court RECEIVED the minutes of the meeting of the Senate held on 17 March 2021 (SEN (21) MINS 01). There were no matters brought to members’ attention.

Health and Safety Committee

Court RECEIVED the minutes of the meeting of the Health and Safety Committee held on 16 March 2021 (H&S (21) MINS 01). There were no matters brought to members’ attention.

Nominations Committee

Court RECEIVED the minutes of the meeting of the Nominations Committee held on 11 February 2021 (NOM (21) MINS 01). The following matters were brought to members’ attention:

  • Reappointment to a serve a second term of office (minute 1 refers):

Court APPROVED the recommendation that Melanie Moreland be reappointed to membership of the University Court for a second term of office to 21 December 2023.

  • Reappointment to serve a second term of office (minute 5.2 refers):

Court APPROVED the recommendation that Robert Pattullo be reappointed to membership of the University Court for a further period of three years to 30 April 2024.

  • Appointment of the Vice-Chair of the University Court (minute 5.3 refers)

Members were reminded that a vacancy in the position of Vice-Chair would arise from 31 March 2021, and that, under the provisions set out in the Standing Orders of the University Court, appointment to the office of Vice-Chair ‘shall take place at any time after a vacancy occurs’. Candidates for the office of Vice-Chair were drawn from the lay members of the Court, with appointment being determined by an election amongst the members of the University Court.

  • Appointment to Committees of the University Court (minute 5.4 refers)

Court APPROVED the recommendation that Professor John Harper be appointed to the Finance and Estates Committee.

Court NOTED the discussion around the potential to co-opt external members to standing committees of the Court, with such membership not being tied to full membership of the University Court. Members were advised that the forthcoming externally facilitated Court effectiveness review would provide the opportunity to review the terms of reference and membership of Court Committees.

  • QMU Enterprises Ltd (minute 5.5 refers)
Court APPROVED the recommendations that Linda McPherson be retained as a Director of QM Enterprises Ltd, following her retirement as a lay member of Court in March 2021, and that a third Director be appointed. Consideration of the third Director was deferred, pending the conclusion of the current lay member recruitment round.
  • Appointment to Lay Court Membership (minute 6 refers)

Court APPROVED the recommendation that the following persons, interviewed by the Nominations Committee on Friday 5 March 2021, be appointed to the University Court for a period of three years with effect from 1 June 2021:

  • Steven Hendry
  • Garvin Sealy
  • Chancellor (minute 7 refers)

Court APPROVED the recommendation that the period of office of the Chancellor be extended to July 2023, as provided for in the arrangements for the role, such extension being subject to the Chancellor’s agreement.

Equality and Diversity Committee

Meeting held on 28 January 2021

Court RECEIVED the minutes of the meeting of the Equality and Diversity Committee held on 28 January 2021 (EDC (21) MINS 01). There were no matters brought to members’ attention.

Extraordinary meeting held on 26 February 2021

Court RECEIVED the minutes of the Extraordinary meeting of the Equality and Diversity Committee held on 26 February 2021 (EDC (21) MINS 02). The meeting had been convened to discuss the Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) of the University’s submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The EQIA had also been subject to consideration by the Senate at the meeting held on 17 March 2021. The EDC had identified no significant concerns that, in terms of submission of the REF, any identifiable group of staff had been treated unfavourably on the basis of a protected characteristic.

The EQIA highlighted a potential for there to have been an under-representation of women with Significant Responsibility for Research (SRR) compared to the proportion of women on the academic staff group as a whole, and considered that any under- representation of women could be linked to the higher percentage of women in part-time roles. Both FTE-related and sex-related patterns in the EQIA were likely to be related to broader employment patterns, and appeared to be neither specific to research at QMU, nor to the REF 2021 submission.

The EDC had noted too that, for some other protected characteristics, the uneven availability of data meant that conclusions were hard to draw. This lack of data reflected the extent to which staff had provided such data on a self-declared basis. Increasing self-declaration for all relevant criteria had been identified as a priority area for development, and would likely be reflected in the University’s Mainstreaming Report and Equality Outcomes, and in the workstreams of the Race Equality Steering Group.

Retiral: Acting Chair

Members were advised that this would be Linda McPherson’s final meeting, her extended term of office concluding on 31 March 2021. In recognition of this, the Principal addressed members on Linda’s significant contribution to the University Court and to the wider University community over the seven years of her tenure.

Linda joined the University Court in 2014, and was appointed to the role of Vice-Chair in 2016. It was in that capacity that Linda assumed the role of Acting Chair in 2020, taking up the role just a week before the historic lockdown announcement.

Linda joined the University Court having established a distinguished management career in a number of sectors aligned closely with the University’s portfolio, including in particular the Food and Drink, Tourism and Creative Industries sectors.

During her tenure, Linda had been an unfailing supporter of university events, and a wonderful ambassador. Over the last year in particular, Linda had provided welcome encouragement and support to the Principal, and to the rest of the senior team. Importantly, she had also overseen the process for the appointment of the Chair.

Whilst this would be Linda’s final meeting of the Court, the Principal was delighted to report that she had agreed to continue to work with the University on the Innovation Park, having always viewed the University as a key contributor to the wellbeing of the local and wider Scottish economy.

Thanking the Principal for his kind words, Linda expressed how much she had enjoyed her period of tenure. She thanked members for their individual and collective contribution to the success of the University during that period, and extended her very best wishes to the QMU family, and her particular good wishes to the incoming Chair.

Date of Next Meeting

Meeting dates for the remainder of the Academic Year 2020-21 were confirmed as follows:

  • w/c 26 April 2021: Extraordinary Meeting to review the Land Development Full Business Case.
    Secretary’s Note: Date of meeting confirmed as 12.30 pm on Tuesday, 27 April 2021.
  • 23 June 2021 at 3.00 pm.

April 2021