Matters Arising from the Minutes

Matters Arising from the Minutes



SUMMARY MINUTES OF THE FIRST MEETING OF 2002 OF ACADEMIC COUNCIL, held on Wednesday 23 JANUARY 2002 in the Boardroom, Southwood House, Avery Hill Campus at 2.15 pm

Present: / Rick Trainor (Chair) / Christine Rose (Secretary)
Rob Allen / Francis Duke
David Armour-Chelu / Martin Everett
Liz Bacon / John Humphreys
Robert Black / Les Johnson
Liz Briggs / Margaret Lennox
Patrick Burkett / Jane Longmore
Wendy Cealey Harrison / Liz Meerabeau
David Chambers / Zelico Sevic
Tony Clayton / Mike Sharp
Linda Cording / Janet Thatcher
Peter Dalton / Mike Thomas
Amanda Davidson / Dominic Tullett
Corine Delage / David Wills
In attendance:
Christine Couper / Malcolm Hudson
Tex Dunstan / Jill Jameson
Dai Hall / Steve Wallis
Denis Heathcote / Paul Whitehorn
02.1.1 / Stuart Ashenden / Sarah Palmer
Anthony Beezer / Chantel Phippen
Clive Burrows / Alan Reed
Mark Cross / Mary Stiasny
Kay Humphris / Paul Stigant
Ed Metcalfe / Rosalind Street-Porter
02.1.2 / Welcome to new members. The Chair welcomed new members of COUNCIL, Margaret Lennox and David Armour-Chelu, to the meeting. Both had been elected to COUNCIL under the new category of "Early Career Academics."
02.1.3 / Consideration of general academic issues. The Chair invited members to bring forward papers of strategic academic interest to COUNCIL. The Learning and Quality Committee was now operative and will be considering more detailed matters regarding regulations and COUNCIL had the opportunity to take a long-term view of academic developments. Minutes of School Boards will be presented to COUNCIL and Heads may wish to submit important papers from those meetings.
02.1.4 / Reshaping the university system. Funding by mission. The Chair reported that there had been a great deal of speculation in the educational press regarding the reshaping of universities, a matter complicated by the RAE outcomes with regard to research. 'Funding by mission', if it came to pass, might mean a split in the university system with certain universities being eligible for funds denied to others. This was an alarming prospect for the University of Greenwich which might not be considered for RAE funds for example whereas other 'research universities' would be favourably placed to attract funding because they could demonstrate particular excellence in this area. This system could create two tiers of universities with the prospect of little flexibility or mobility between them. The 'Coalition of Modern Universities' was monitoring the situation and exerting pressure on behalf of universities which, like Greenwich, were access universities and seemed likely to be adversely placed if funding by mission became a reality.
02.1.5 / Relationship between universities and FE colleges. The Chair reported that the government's aim was to ensure that 50% of the population up to 30 years of age had had further or higher education by the year 2010. The government was intent on achieving this goal and had published papers inviting universities to make constructive suggestions as to how this could be achieved. The University should make a positive response to this invitation. The Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) reported that money was available for partnerships between FE and HE from HEFCE and the Learning and Skills Council and that there was no reason why the University should not access this money in the light of several proposals for new collaborations which were being discussed in Greenwich and Medway.
02.1.6 / COUNCIL noted that partner colleges' attempts to increase their intake were complicated by the difficulties associated with student retention and it seemed that the market might be approaching saturation with some of the subjects currently offered. Increases in recruitment must not be associated with a drop in quality of provision.
02.1.7 / COUNCIL noted that the University was looking to the region centred on SE London and NW Kent for co-operation with other institutions and that the developed links with local government, non-governmental agencies and the pattern of local recruitment determined this priority for the University. COUNCIL agreed that further discussion should take place in the Academic Collaboration Committee to be referred back to COUNCIL at a later date.


02.1.8 / The Summary Minutes of Academic COUNCIL held on Wednesday 28 November 2001 were agreed as accurate and approved by COUNCIL.


02.1.9 / Awards Ceremonies 2002 (01.6.35) The Acting Head of Chemical and Life Sciences enquired whether the dates had been allocated to individual school's award ceremonies in July. The Academic Registrar explained that the scheduling of dates was dependent on the uptake of tickets from each school: the booking process started at the end of February but those who required further information should contact the Assistant Academic Registrar (Conferments) for details.
02.1.10 / Wednesday afternoon sports policy (01.6.28) The Head of Computing and Mathematical Sciences enquired whether the working group had been set up to investigate the consequences of implementing the student request for Wednesday afternoon free of undergraduate seminars and lectures. Student representatives reported that the group had met and was seeking clarification of various issues arising from the proposal. The group would meet again and report to COUNCIL.


02.1.11 /

Equal Opportunities Committee. The University Secretary noted that the Committee was looking to campuses and to COUNCIL for volunteers to serve on the Committee: there were no substantive changes to the Committee's terms of reference.

COUNCIL endorsed the proposed categories of membership.

02.1.12 /

Combined Honours Committee. The Director of Lifelong Learning stated that the members of the Committee were unanimously of the view that the title should be changed to match the Combined Honours Scheme. COUNCIL endorsed the change of title and the revised membership of the Committee.


02.1.13 / Administrative restructuring. The University Secretary reported that she had circulated a paper to administrative departments and was expecting feedback by recipients. Copies of the document were available from her. The main aim was to simplify the existing structure and a detailed discussion document would be circulated to COUNCIL, trades unions etc. at a later stage.
02.1.14 / COUNCIL noted the report and agreed that changes be notified to Heads of School as soon as possible to ensure that new school arrangements dovetailed with the revised administrative structure.
02.1.15 /

Schools and Departments. COUNCIL agreed that the list of schools and departments should show Civil Engineering as a department of Architecture and Construction until 31 July 2002 and noted a minor change in the name of the Acute and Continuing Care Department in the School of Health and Social Care.

02.1.21 / The Head of Recruitment and Marketing said that the information presented to COUNCIL at its last meeting was now published on the IPSU home page and further details were available in the document submitted to the planning group which was available from his office. The University recruitment strategy should depend less on the clearing process and this in turn meant that more realistic offers must be made earlier in the cycle.
COUNCIL agreed that the University should be made more attractive by enhanced customer care including multiple postings to prospective students between application and acceptance.
COUNCIL agreed that close analysis of recruitment data was required to identify key strategic elements and requested from the Manager of IPSU a detailed table of recruitment trends in each school, this to be circulated to schools.
COUNCIL noted that the abolition of the MASN would make the market more competitive as it would remove the numerical restriction on recruitment by institutions.
COUNCIL noted that Open Days presented particular difficulties in some areas and that there were various views as to their effectiveness in stimulating student interest.
COUNCIL requested that the Head of Recruitment and Marketing provide a discussion paper outlining the current recruitment and marketing strategies, including their cost effectiveness, for the next meeting.
02.1.22 / The Chair said that the University's RAE results represented a very considerable achievement, with widespead improvement on 1996, and thanks were due to the Secretary of the Research Committee and all those involved in the University's submission. Only ten years had passed since the University had become eligible for this type of funding. Nonetheless, the latest results revealed that although the University had improved its performance since 1996 other institutions had improved to a greater degree. Greenwich must learn from these results and devise a strategy for the future. COUNCIL agreed that a positive view must be taken of the future research endeavour in the University despite what were in some respects disappointing RAE results.
02.1.23 / The Secretary of the Research Committee confirmed that a reduction in research money was inevitable for those scoring less than 5* while a score of 4 was the effective cut-off point for major research funding. The Pro Vice Chancellor (Resources) announced that he had just heard that £20 million would be made available to targeted groups with a score of 3a but that groups with a score of 3b would not be funded. COUNCIL noted that for institutions such as Greenwich with insufficient scores above 4 there would be a substantial cut in funding. For the University this could mean a reduction of approximately 25% (£500,000) or more although the exact amounts involved were not yet known.
02.1.24 / The Chair said that the University was yet to receive direct feedback from HEFCE but this was expected shortly and further information would be published on their website in February. The review of the University's performance and the identification of policies for the future would involve the Research Sub Committee but also other bodies and a degree of external participation was required both for objectivity and to provide intelligence on RAE strategies used by other universities. COUNCIL noted that a very narrow range of scores separated institutions and a marginal improvement would have led to a higher ranking for the University.
02.1.25 / COUNCIL agreed that the results did not reflect the considerable growth in the number of active researchers in schools and that there was no perfect submission strategy which optimised the growth in quantity and quality in terms of funding especially in view of what appeared to be discrepancies in scoring and the breakdown of the present funding system.
02.1.26 / COUNCIL agreed that the Pro Vice Chancellor (Research) should present a paper at the next meeting which examined the methodology used to predict the University's scores in the exercise and analysed outcomes.


02.1.27 / Authorised programmes: 2002 start. COUNCIL noted the authorisation of programmes from the Schools of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Humanities and the Combined Honours Scheme. These had been authorised by the Academic Planning Sub Committee at its October 2001 meeting.
02.1.28 /

Changes to Law Society and Bar Council requirements for a qualifying law degree. The Head of Social Sciences and Law outlined recent changes to the requirements of the Law Society and Bar Council as published in a 'Joint Statement.' COUNCIL noted the changes and endorsed all four recommendations included in the Head of Social Sciences and Law's paper.

02.1.29 / Joint awards. The Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) reported that the University was developing, with the University of Kent, an integrated operation on the Medway campus and that the Funding Council was currently considering a bid for improving facilities on the shared campus. Other than awards both universities made under their current offer the aim was to develop a joint MPharm (and other Programmes) which both universities would confer: the first stage of approval was with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the form of a draft business plan for the site. The Programme is due to be validated during this academic session. COUNCIL noted that the matter would be reported on at a later date for further consideration.


02.1.30 / Review of Regulatory Procedures: Academic Appeals, Academic Complaints and Student Claims of Extenuating Circumstances. The Academic Registrar reported on the background to the review and said that the document would be placed on the web: those with detailed textual comments should make them to her.
02.1.31 / COUNCIL endorsed the recommendation that extenuating circumstances should be noted for each student on the PAB Report or in separate minutes.
02.1.32 / COUNCIL noted that exceptionally students appealing against academic decisions submitted new evidence at hearings and agreed that an opportunity must be provided for the school to comment on this material. Failure to do so would be contrary to natural justice. Council considered the tabled paper indicating an amendment to the appeals documentation which stated that new matters would not normally be considered at the hearing.
02.1.33 /

COUNCIL agreed that the paper should be published on the intranet for comment and endorsed, in principle, the regulation.

02.1.34 / COUNCIL noted the tabled paper containing additional text regarding the complaints procedure and agreed that it should read,
"Consultations with the Head of School, or any other appointed manager, will take place regarding the contents of the letter to be sent to the complainant relating to the decisions and outcomes of the University Complaints Panel."
02.1.35 / Undergraduate regulations: addition of a regulation defining and dealing with borderline award classification in the academic regulations for undergraduate taught awards. COUNCIL agreed the new regulation in principle and requested that the Academic Registrar consult the Director of Information Services about the precise wording. COUNCIL requested that the document be posted on the Intranet and that PABs be alerted to its existence.
02.1.36 / Greenwich Maritime Institute - Quality Assurance Arrangements. COUNCIL noted the paper.
02.1.37 /

Professional doctorate: amendment to Regulations on wordlength for doctoral thesis component. COUNCIL endorsed the proposed amendment to the Academic Regulations for Research Awards.


02.1.38 / Classifications and awards: annual Report. The Manager of IPSU reported that the average 'A' level score of undergraduate entrants to Greenwich was decreasing annually and that if this continued the University would go down the league tables performance indicator dealing with entry requirements. The Head of Recruitment and Marketing noted these numbers also reflected the fact that the University was a local access institution and 'A' level scores in Greenwich's catchment area were low.
02.1.39 / COUNCIL noted the report and agreed that the raw data presented should be examined by Heads when considering their ARPD report and by the Academic Planning Committee in order that more interpretive data be presented to COUNCIL.
02.1.40 / COUNCIL noted that other institutions appeared to be conferring more first class and upper second degrees and that differing regulations and assessment procedures might partially explain the differences. The Academic Registrar stated that a recent paper to the summer meeting of COUNCIL containing data prepared by the Director of Information Services had failed to convince COUNCIL of the need for new academic regulations on aggregation.
02.1.41 / COUNCIL agreed to examine the regulations on aggregation at the next meeting and thanked the Manager of IPSU for her report.
02.1.42 /

Undergraduates of the University continuing their studies in the University. The Manager of IPSU reported that the University was below the national average in recruiting to PG programmes from its own graduate population. There was distinct variation between schools of the University and professional and career considerations probably explained some of these differences. COUNCIL agreed that a fee discount to the University's own graduates might stimulate interest and agreed that the ARPD process should examine ways in which this strategic aim could be achieved.

02.1.43 /

End of year progession analysis: 2000/2001 versus 1999/2000 The Head of IPSU reported that both in the keeping of internal progression records and by comparison with national figures the University had room for improvement. Each year the University was in danger of doing badly and no allowance for location was made in the assessment of progression. COUNCIL thanked the Head of IPSU and requested that progression data be sent to partner colleges.


02.1.44 /

Changes to the format of the award ceremonies. The Academic Registrar reported that, as an experiment, the format of the award ceremonies would be varied in February 2002. COUNCIL approved the changes as outlined in the paper and noted the University Secretary's request that names of nominees for honorary awards be forwarded to her as soon as possible.

02.1.45 /

COUNCIL noted the minutes of the following committees:

Combined Studies Committee. 7 November 2001
Equal Opportunities Committee. 7 December 2001
02.1.46 / COUNCIL noted that the date of its next meeting was Wednesday 6 March 2002 at 2.15 pm in the Boardroom, Southwood House.
The meeting closed at 5.55 pm.