The Court is a statutory body that provides a forum representing the interests of some of the University’s internal and external constituencies.
The meeting provided an opportunity to hear the thoughts and opinions of Court members on ‘Universities and the Digital Skills Gap’; ‘Enterprise and SME engagement’; and the Halpin Review.
Dr Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding, and Professor James Davenport from the Department of Computer Science delivered the first presentation ‘Universities and the Digital Skills Gap’. Court members were provided with an overview of the role of universities in addressing the digital skills gap, and heard how the recently-announced Institute of Coding will help will help fill the UK’s digital skills shortage, as well as attracting more people from underrepresented groups into the sector.
The £40 million National Institute of Coding – led by Bath - brings together a consortium of more than 60 universities, national and international corporations, SMEs, industry groups, experts in non-traditional learning and professional bodies to form a national initiative which will reach throughout the UK.
The second presentation, given by Adam Hickman, Economic Development Manager, and Rosie Bennett, Bath SETsquared Centre Manager, explained how the University, through SETsquared, is supporting SMEs and highlighted how this support is generating economic growth both locally and nationally.
The University of Bath is a key part of the SETsquared Partnership, which has been voted the Global Number One University Incubator for the 3rd year running. Through SETsquared, businesses can receive bespoke support in a variety of areas and in 2017 alone SETsquared supported 381 companies who in turn raised £218 million of investment.
Mr Hickman also flagged the £38.9 million of government funding secured for the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) which will be built at the Bristol and Bath Science Park. This £60 million research facility will lead the development of future generations of ultra-low emission vehicles and support the development of a much larger and more competitive automotive business cluster in the South West by providing access to its state-of-the art facilities to regional start-ups and SMEs.
Mrs Bennett gave three case studies of the success achieved by a range of start-up businesses (some initiated by our students) based at the University’s Innovation Centre.
Both items were well received and Court members were invited to contribute their views, facilitated by a question and answer session following each presentation.
Court also discussed the Effectiveness Review of University Council which was considered by Council at its meeting on May 24. Following a presentation by David Allen from the Halpin Partnership and opening remarks by the Chair of Council, Mr Thomas Sheppard, in which he outlined the action already taken by Council in response to the report, members of Court participated in a wide ranging discussion about the review and its recommendations.
The Vice-Chair of Council, Mrs Ruth Foreman, will chair the Steering Group set up by Council to consider how the recommendations made by Halpin should be taken forward in line with Council’s stated ambition to place Bath at the forefront of governance practice in the sector.
The Chair, Pro Chancellor Mr Peter Troughton, responding to views expressed from the floor in favour of bringing forward the date of the next meeting of Court, agreed that this should be considered.
Following the discussion, Court passed the following motion. 45 members voted in favour, 5 against with 14 abstentions:
Court notes the receipt of the Halpin Review on 25th May.
Court welcomes recommendation PR13 and believes that any review undertaken must be led by Court. Court has played a critical role in initiating long overdue debate and reform at the University. Court must be able to continue as an independent body representing the interests of the University's internal and external constituencies.
Court welcomes recognition in the Halpin Review that there should be improvements to the inclusion of MSA, OFS and T&E staff within the structures of university governance.
Court also welcomes proposals to create a more diverse University Council. Court notes the significant under-representation of staff within the MSA, OFS and T&E job families on University Council.
Court recommends that the number of elected places on University Council reserved for staff in the MSA, OFS and T&E Job families be increased as part of a strategy to create a more diverse Council.
The view expressed by Court will be reported to the next meeting of Council.