University Court meeting

The University’s Court met on 16 January 2018. The Court is a statutory body with around 200 members that provides a forum representing the interests of some of the University’s internal and external constituencies.

Court agreed the re-appointment of His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex as the University’s Chancellor for the period 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2023.

Court also agreed Standing Orders as part of steps taken to implement recommendations made in the report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) into governance relating to remuneration.

A full and open discussion took place around the previous meeting of Court in February 2017 and the HEFCE report and two Motions were passed. The Motion to petition the Crown to appoint a ‘Visitor’ as part of an institutional checks and balances system, as many other universities have done, was agreed and will be implemented. The Motion relating to the HEFCE report was agreed and will be considered and noted at the next meeting of Council, the University’s governing body.

The University’s Council has already accepted all the recommendations contained in the HEFCE report. External consultants Halpin Partnership, appointed by the University to conduct the independent Effectiveness Review of Council, have begun their work and will make recommendations to Council in May 2018.

Minutes of Court will be available in due course. However, as one of the Motions passed has been covered in the media, we wanted our community to be able to see the full text of that Motion in advance of the minutes:

Motion

Court regrets the flawed vote at its meeting in February 2017 and the damage to the reputation of the university that has followed.

Court welcomes the report of the HEFCE enquiry and calls on University Council to accept the findings and implement the recommendations of the report in full as the first steps towards openness, transparency, inclusivity and accountability in the governance of the university.

Court notes that the following resolution was adopted at Academic Assembly by 128 votes to 29 with 8 abstentions:

Given recent damage to the reputation of the University of Bath, arising from the conduct of senior management, Council, and the Remuneration Committee, and the criticisms contained in the resulting HEFCE report, Academic Assembly believes that the management and governance response has been inadequate. We therefore wish to communicate to Senate:

1. our lack of confidence in the Vice-Chancellor and our belief that she should leave her post immediately;

2. our lack of confidence in the Chair of Council and our belief that he should step down immediately;

3. our lack of confidence in the Remuneration Committee and our belief that its members should step down immediately and that its power to set executive pay should be returned to Council as a whole;

4. a request that a complete review of governance, not only the "effectiveness" of governing bodies, be carried out, with a view to rendering the running of our university more open, transparent, and democratic.

In view of this motion from the statutory body of Education and Research staff, Court:

1. endorses the view of Academic Assembly in points 1-3 above;

2. requests that all those responsible for the failings identified in the HEFCE report step down from positions of authority in the management and/or governance of the university;

3. endorses point 4 above and emphasizes that the failings of governance identified in the HEFCE report will not be remedied by a review of "effectiveness" of existing arrangements but only by root-and-branch reform of the governance structures, implementing open, transparent, and democratic arrangements.

Court particularly welcomes recommendation 11 and requests that Council include on the Remuneration Committee reserved spaces for staff and students, to be elected by the staff of the University and by the students of the University respectively.

Court requests that delegated powers be returned from the Remuneration Committee to Council, such that recommendations from the Committee are subject to approval by the governing body.

1) Court notes that HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) has initiated enquiries into the arrangements for the departure of the outgoing Vice Chancellor.

2) Court expresses concern about the process by which these arrangements were agreed.

3) Court notes the considerable public interest in this matter, and believes that this has further damaged the reputation of the University.

4) Court is concerned that the Council has acted beyond its powers in granting a six-month sabbatical leave on full pay to the outgoing Vice Chancellor, as this contravened the Ordinances of the University (Ordinance 17.16).

5) Court further notes the public interest in the loan for a car which was provided to the Vice Chancellor and will be written off at the end of her employment with the University.

6) Court further notes that repayments for the loan were made in varying amounts each year from when the loan was provided in 2001/02 to 2010/11, but that the Vice Chancellor has repaid none of the loan since then.

7) Court believes any loans provided to senior staff should be made on the same terms as interest free loans which are provided to other University staff (e.g. motorcycle purchase loan) and these terms should be in the public domain.

In relation to recommendation 12(e), Court requests that Council also publish the ratio of the emoluments for the highest paid member of staff to the full time equivalent amount of the lowest paid member of staff. Emoluments should include costs associated with providing residence and/or the market rate for rents that would be due.

Court welcomes recommendation 12(e) of the HEFCE report and believes that all staff deserve to receive a wage they can afford to live on and asks Council to commit to the University becoming a Living Wage employer by seeking accreditation to the Living Wage Foundation within the next 12 months.

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