The University of Southampton
UEB Blog

UEB Blog 18.06.24

Author: Shaun Williams, Executive Director, Engagement and Advancement

Image of Highfield campus with text "UEB BLOG 18.06.24".

  • UEB congratulated three of our wider community on being awarded Honours in the King’s Birthday Honours. Dr Alison Vincent, a member of our University Council, was awarded a CBE for services to Engineering and Technology; Professor Rachel Mills, a former Dean of the Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences, was awarded a CBE for services to Marine Science; and Professor Judith Petts, a former Dean of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, and now Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University, was awarded a Damehood. 
  • UEB discussed a number of resolutions passed by the Southampton Branch of the University and College Union (UCU), and a separate petition from the Palestine Solidarity Network, concerning the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We fully understand that this remains a very difficult time for many in our community, especially those with strong personal and professional connections with the region. Everyone on UEB hopes for a swift and enduring end to the hostilities on all sides, which has had such a devastating impact on all civilian populations and has led to an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 
  • A formal response will be sent to the UCU branch and the Palestine Solidarity Network, recognising the University has to balance a number of obligations and responsibilities, including those requiring impartiality whilst also rigorously upholding lawful freedom of speech and academic freedom; recognising that there are a number of different and very strong-held views within our community, and wanting to provide safe forums in which our staff and students feel they can freely and respectfully express their lawful views, and feel they are seen, safe and supported.
  • Following discussion of early drafts at previous meetings, UEB considered and approved a near final draft of an updated Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom. Under existing legislation, universities and colleges are required to take reasonably practicable steps to secure free speech on campus. New legislation was passed in May 2023 which imposes new free speech duties on universities and colleges, their constituent institutions, and some students’ unions, from 1 August 2024. As a result, the University’s Code of Practice to Secure Freedom of Speech within the Law has been reviewed and updated in line with the new legislation. There has been extensive internal consultation on the drafting of the revised Code of Practice, and UEB thanked all those colleagues, and those within SUSU, for their commitment over many weeks. This further draft will be discussed at Senate this week and submitted to July Council for approval.
  • UEB discussed and approved proposed changes to the regulations covering access to, and use of, the University Library spaces and services by students and staff of the University; University partners and by external visitors. This reflects some changed practices and covers newer services introduced since the regulations were last updated. One key change to the regulations is that we now explicitly state that the Library is accessible to people aged 16 and over for independent study. Previously, this was 18 and over. This change is in line with the University’s goal to “promote equality… and transform educational opportunities”, and aligns with the University’s Widening Participation and Social Mobility agenda and our stated aim “to help students from all backgrounds progress to higher education.”
  • UEB noted a confidential business case to be discussed by Council next month relating to plans to open a campus in India. We submitted an application to the Regulator, the University Grants Commission (UGC), in January and expect to receive the result shortly. The rationale for establishing the University of Southampton Delhi centres on the University’s intention to grow its reputation as a multi-nodal global institution, as well as improving key aspects of student experience, in particular reputation, academic capacity and risk mitigation related to international student mobility and incomes. The University’s intention is for the campus to deliver social and economic impact by combining Top 100 education, research and knowledge exchange, with the talent and energy of India.
  • UEB noted proposed changes to the Governance process aimed at improving the strategic alignment of capital project development and consideration by enabling appropriate decision-making in a timely fashion. This will include the introduction of Faculty-based Estates Strategy Boards to ensure Faculty Small Works align with faculty priorities and the overall University strategic context; the phasing out of Estates Programme Advisory Groups (EPAGs) and the creation of Project Boards for new projects to enhance governance across Estates key projects; the Introduction of new Estates Business Case templates, based on best practice from HM Treasury Green Book, and aligned to Estates Governance and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) process for projects; changes to delegation of authority to ensure decision-making is both efficient and transparent, enabling Estates and Facilities to effectively deliver the University’s Estates Transformation Programme. There was broad support for the direction of travel, as part of a wider streamlined planning process.
  • UEB received an update on progress with the project to refresh the University Career Pathways. Since it was last discussed by UEB in February, a wider range of further stakeholder engagement has taken place with a range of representative groups and our campus trades unions, and further discussions will now take place. UEB also received an update on the key components of a refreshed Sabbatical Policy and a revised, centralised approach to their approval and recording. An updated sabbatical policy has now been drafted and initial consultation with our campus trades unions has begun. UEB were also updated on the latest status of the ongoing national pay negotiations.
  • Finally, there was the regular review of the University Risk Register, which has seen no changes since its last review. 
Share this post Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo