The following principles have been agreed by the Project Board to guide the review of our governance framework:
Correct omissions and align with current legislation and regulations: Within the agreed purposes of the Charter and Statues we will seek to add anything that is currently missing. We will also ensure we are compatible with current legislation and regulations, such as those from the Office for Students or any successor organisation.
Remove redundant text and repetition: There is a small amount of historical detail which is no longer relevant, which will be removed. To avoid inconsistencies arising with amendments over time, we will also remove duplication between and within documents. Where it is essential that two layers of the framework make provisions on the same issue (see proportionality), these provisions should be distinct and of an appropriate level of detail in each case.
Flexibility: Wherever possible, the documents should seek to accommodate legislative and regulatory requirements in such a manner that further legislation or regulatory changes can be easily accommodated. They need to allow for the University to grow in size and stature, for example by ensuring that Statutes do not define quora in terms of absolute numbers that will be quickly outgrown. Similarly, the review should anticipate that the way the University is organised may in future be modified. For this reason, mention of specific roles should be restricted as far as possible to the most critical posts only to allow for responsibilities and titles to shift over time.
Durability: Providing that compliance is not compromised, care should be taken to future-proof the framework and avoid hostages to fortune. For example, jargon and contemporary HE terms (“impact agenda”, “REF” etc) should be avoided to ensure that the provisions age well. Where there is no option but to use these terms, they should be clearly defined.
Proportionality: Each layer of University regulation is subject to a different threshold for amendment (Privy Council, Council, Senate etc). The level of detail of each provision should be proportionate to the level of protection afforded by the amendment threshold. Our understanding of what constitutes good practice and good governance evolves over time: processes must be sufficiently adaptable to allow us to deliver the strategic aims of the University within whatever context we find ourselves operating. In order to achieve this, we will seek to separate the fundamentals on which we build from operational rules and functions. Wherever appropriate we keep principles in Charter and Statues and move operational rules ‘down’ into the Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations, where they can best serve their function.
Simplicity: We will simplify processes wherever possible to remove redundant steps and aid understanding and swift action, ensuring that only those activities which serve the purpose of the process are retained.
Fairness: Where the documents impact working conditions, rights or behaviours of staff or students, our principle will be that of equality and fairness for all members of the University community.
Change by agreement: Given the crucial role of the Charter and Statutes at the heart of the University, we will consult and seek consensus wherever appropriate.
Adherence to our values and commitments: The documents must both adhere to, and promote, the University’s values and commitments including those of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and initiatives such as the Climate Action Framework, as well as the broader Code of Ethics:
Delivering quality and excellence, whilst being quick to listen and learn
Nurturing high aspirations, for the benefit of all
Aspiring to the highest standards of scientific, ethical and professional integrity, and supporting the freedom to challenge received wisdom
Fostering inclusion, equality, diversity and accessibility where the unique value of each individual is recognised, and we build a community of trust by treating each other with respect
Supporting a sustainable community and adopting best environmental practice
User-friendly: The drafters of the original governance documents adopted a formal, quasi-legal style, in line with practice and custom of the time. Whilst there may be an argument in favour of using some legal terms, and of maintaining some ceremonial language at Charter level, the documents are – above all – there to be understood and applied by members of the University community, and will therefore be written in plain English wherever possible. Users should also be able to find provisions that are relevant or useful to them at speed, so indexes will be created to aid this.