Academic Board Minutes 2 October 2013

Minutes of a meeting of Academic Board held on 2 October 2013.
Steve West, Vice Chancellor (Chair); Paul Gough, DVC Academic (Vice
Chair); Julie McLeod, PVC (LTSE); Alex Gilkson, PVC/Exec Dean (ACE);
Paul Olomolayie, PVC/Exec Dean (FET); Helen Langton, PVC/Exec
Dean (HAS); Fiona Tolmie (representing PVC/Exec Dean (FBL); John
Deane, Vice-Principal Associate Faculty; James Lee, HoD (ACE); Paul
Dowdall, HoD (FBL); Sarah Green, HoD (HAS); Richard Parnaby
(representative Professor); Bernhard Gross, Vice Chair Faulty Board,
(ACE); Darren Reynolds (representative Professor); Jeanette Sakel
(representative L&T Fellow); Rachel Sales (representative L&T Fellow);
Manuel Frutos-Perez (representative L&T Fellow); Lynne Lawrence
(representative L&T Fellow); Adam Pinfold (representative Professional
Services); Charlie Roper, President, UWE Students’ Union; Megan
Edmunds, Vice-President Education, UWE Students’ Union.
In Attendance:
Rachel Cowie, Acting Director CAS (Clerk); Helen Millican, nominee CAS
(Deputy Clerk).
Martin Boddy, PVC (RKE); Jane Harrington, PVC/Exec Dean (FBL);
Catherine Hobbs, HoD (FET), Rosie Scott-Ward (representative
Associate Faculty Board); Jo Midgley, Director SPS; Richard Parnaby,
(representative Professor), Cathy Rex, Director Library Services; Tracy
Willis, Director IT.
Jim Costello, UCU; Jodie Anstee, Vice-Chancellor’s Office.
Paper AB13/10/01 was received
The Terms of Reference were introduced and membership explained. There
was a balance of executive and non-executive members, some of the latter
being elected representatives. Service Directors were in attendance to
advise on matters as appropriate. Academic Board was a deliberative body
with a close functional relationship with the Board of Governors where the
Vice-Chancellor and the President of Students’ Union had overlapping
membership. Academic Board members were accountable to the decisions
made by the Board and were expected to attend all meetings (membership
attendance will be monitored by the Board of Governors). Normally, in the
event of non-attendance, an alternative would not be allowed. Under
exceptional circumstances the Vice-Chancellor could agree a deputy,
particularly to ensure that there was full Faculty representation at Executive
The merits, or otherwise, of Board meetings being conducted virtually was
discussed. The majority of members favoured face-to-face meetings, but it
was acknowledged that virtual meetings by video/web conferencing could
be a useful way for task and finish groups of Academic Board to conduct
Paper AB13/10/02 was received
The minutes of the meeting held on 23 June 2013 were approved as an
accurate record, subject to the following amendments: Minute 13.06.26 to
read “The Board felt overwhelmingly that UWE should not have a religious
observance policy as presented”; Minute 13.06.04 to read “Potentially
around 300 staff would be submitting and approximately 1000 publications
would be considered”.
Religious Observance Policy
Minute AB13.06.26 refers
The Board had not been satisfied with the assessment part of the Policy as
presented in June. It was agreed that a re-worked draft would be presented
during the 2013/14 academic year.
Action: Acting Director CAS and PVC LTSE
Report on matters approved by Chair’s action
Minute AB13.06.25 refers;
Paper AB13/10/03 was received
The report detailed the actions signed off by the Vice Chancellor in his role
as Chair of Academic Board between June 2013 and September 2013. It
was noted that Helsinki Psychotherapy Institute, Finland now had a signed
agreement and that Academic Board would be asked to closely monitor this
activity as it was the first time delivery had taken place in a foreign
Systems integration
Minute AB13.06.07 refers
The DVC Resources would update the Board in writing.
Action: DVC Resources
Update on matters from the Students’ Union
It was reported that registration had gone well, despite a power outage
which had caused slight technical issues with overnight feeds. Student
course reps were currently being recruited. They would be supported by
training which was also available to academic tutors to help them
understand the role of the student rep. The Vice-Chancellor stressed how
important the student rep system was and how influential academic staff
could be in encouraging students to put themselves forward for election.
How to encourage participation where the number of student reps was down
was discussed. It was agreed that a joint communication from the SU
President to new students and the Vice-Chancellor to programme managers
would be beneficial. It was suggested that this might be done via Youtube in
future. Concern was expressed that the inevitable information overload
from being at a new institution meant that the message did not always get
through to new students, however, the need to appoint reps as soon as
possible was vital in order to engage students in the training programme. It
was agreed that it might be useful to consider the earlier recruitment of reps
from previous years. The Acting Director of CAS agreed to convene a
small group with the SU to look at ways of encouraging participation.
Action: SU President, Vice-Chancellor and Acting Director CAS
Annual Report
Paper AB13/10/04 was received
The report provided an overview of student feedback received in 2012/13,
documenting where real progress had been made and suggesting areas for
further development. The PVC (LTSE) thanked the Union for a clear report
and commented that it was reassuring to see work that had been
undertaken, around, for example, Academic Personal Tutors, was taking
effect. Likewise, it was reassuring to see progress in the areas of feedback,
Blackboard, organisation/management/communication and placements
although there was still work to do. She highlighted that the group
established to look at the start of the year had been particularly successful.
The Board was pleased to note that a number of the issues highlighted by
the Students’ Union were already in hand, for example, a group had been
set up, chaired by the PVC (LTSE) to look at timetabling issues. The
UWESU VP Education would be invited to participate.
The report highlighted that the word count policy had caused confusion. It
was confirmed that the policy was being revised to make it clearer for
students and staff. It would be brought to the Academic Quality and
Enhancement Committee in due course. It was acknowledged that this was
a good example of where the University had listened and taken action to
address students’ concerns. Demonstrating that the University was listening
to students’ concerns and either taking action about them, or explaining why
matters could not be addressed, was a current priority for the University with
the introduction of the “Full Circle Campaign” being led by the Acting
Director of CAS (discussed further below).
Regarding feedback about placements where students reported feeling
unsupported and unprepared at the start, it was stressed that technology
enhanced learning could help with this.
With regard to feedback on students’ work it was stressed that, although it
was hoped that the 20 day working day turnaround for feedback on
students’ coursework would bring demonstrable change in student
satisfaction, it was high quality student feedback which staff should be
working to provide. In addition to this, it was reported that the Nursing and
Midwifery Department had moved from academic to student led feedback by
asking students what they wanted from their feedback mid-module.
Engaging students in this way to be reflective about their feedback led to
discussion about how practice oriented learning might affect feedback on
students’ work. It was recognised that many parts of the institution were still
very traditional in terms of their assessment techniques.
Paper AB13/10/05 was received
The Board noted the report which provided an update to Academic Board on
issues considered by the Executive not covered elsewhere on the agenda. It
provided a brief update on: The Times and the Sunday Times Good
University Guide - Performance 2014, where the University was making
steady progress towards its ambition to be in a top 50 position; the
University for the Real World marketing campaign which gave prospective
students the opportunity to engage emotionally with student stories and
other engaging context to bring the UWE Bristol experience to life; initial
recruitment figures which suggested recruitment targets had been met and
average tariff on entry was likely to increase, but which also highlighted our
exposure to clearing; student number controls 2014-15 and beyond
published by HEFCE.
Paper AB13/10/06 was received
The paper by the Acting Director of CAS highlighted key issues and areas of
concern from both the National Student Survey (NSS), the UWE Student
Experience Survey (SES) and the feedback gathered from Student
Reps/Staff Forums (SRSFs) and set out some actions already underway
and the proposed methodology for monitoring progress over the year.
Five priority programmes were highlighted for action in 2013/14 based on
NSS data: electrical and electronic engineering; civil engineering; building;
nursing; and psychology. Within the 7 themes of the NSS, those subject
areas which had fallen below the national bottom quartile were also
identified. This year, for the first time, CAS had undertaken some cohort
analysis and identified areas of good practice and those in need of further
development within two themes, namely assessment/feedback and
organisation/management. The themes had been identified by triangulating
responses from the NSS, the SES and feedback received throughout the
year from the Student Representative/Staff Forums (SRSF). Departments
were to be encouraged to reflect on these themes in their programme
monitoring action plans.
In terms of monitoring progress, it was recommended and agreed that
University Academic Quality and Enhancement Committee (AQEC) be given
delegated authority to closely monitor the 5 subject areas that require action
as a priority; and that Faculty Academic Standards and Quality Committees
(ASQC) be given delegated responsibility for monitoring those subject areas
which the paper identified had fallen below the national bottom quartile in
the 7 themes considered by the NSS. ASQCs should also ensure that
Departments were taking forward action regarding the areas of good
practice/need for further development identified above. It was the intention
that actions and outcomes could be built into the annual monitoring cycle
more holistically to determine progress and highlight work which is having
an impact. It was acknowledged, however, that communication around
these issues could be simplified so that ‘at a glance’ everyone in the
University could see the priorities for action.
Actions already underway identified in the paper included a ‘full circle’
campaign in partnership with the Students’ Union to highlight actions taken
in response to student feedback supported by a UWE App; new Programme
Management Committees looking further at bunched assessment deadlines;
an audit of hidden costs to students; a new working group to look at
timetabling and examination schedules; expansion of the assessment subgroup of AQEC looking at issues with marking criteria so that it looks at
wider assessment practices; a new Survey Enhancement Project to take a
strategic oversight of cross University initiatives; continuation of the Start Of
The Year (SOTY) Board in 2013/14.
Paper AB13/10/07 was received
The paper put forward for discussion a UWE interpretation of ‘practice
oriented and professionally recognised’ education as part of the University’s
2020 strategic ambition; and a range of examples of activities and learning
environments to enable the strategy’s implementation. A presentation by
the PVC (LTSE) provided further ‘food for thought’. Following the
presentation members of the Board worked in three groups to further
discuss what it means to be a University “internationally and nationally
recognised for a practice-oriented and professionally-recognised portfolio
which contributes to an outstanding learning experience and generates
excellent graduate employability opportunities and outcomes for all
students.” (cf UWE Bristol Strategy 2020)
Feedback from the groups highlighted that whilst the actions, enablers and
outcomes were clear there was no indication of which were priorities. It was
also felt that the action plan would benefit by being mapped to the four
priorities of the 2020 strategy. Following their discussions, each group was
asked to feedback one key priority for action/further discussion. These were:
how to empower programme teams at programme level to engage with this;
staff development; and by whom are we recognised? The last point
prompted discussion about striving to be ‘best in class’ in some subject
The Board approved the action plan as presented and recognised that it
was the start of a long journey and set of discussions which would be
monitored through the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive and Academic Board as
appropriate. It was noted that an Equality Impact Assessment would be
initiated as the action plan started.
Action: PVC LTSE, DVC (Academic) and Director of Transformation
Paper AB13/10/08 was received
The Vice-Chancellor’s Executive had invited Academic Board to consider
and advise on the management of academic risks identified within the
Corporate Risk Register, including ways in which the risks could be
monitored. The Corporate Risk Register would be made available to
members for reference in due course.
The Board was asked for thoughts on the risk areas identified, namely:
quality; technology enhanced learning (TEL); external partnerships
(academic and business); research and knowledge exchange (RKE);
undergraduate recruitment; and postgraduate recruitment. It was noted that
there were no key actions for further control identified for TEL and that the
hazards and obstacles which can create risk in this area would be further
identified as the ‘living document’ grew. There was discussion about RKE
and the University’s definition of ‘Research with Impact’ compared to that
used in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). No further risks were
identified that could present a barrier to the University’s ability to meet its
strategic objectives.
In terms of monitoring risk, the Board agreed to endorse using a number of
key quality indicators, in the form of a ‘quality dashboard’, to identify
movement in risk and as a means to keep Academic Board updated on and
engaged with the risks identified.
Paper AB13/10/09 was received
The paper highlighted a number of areas of work undertaken by Academic
Board and its sub-committees during the academic year and future
developments. The paper asserted the belief that Academic Board, in light
of changes made to the way it had worked and its relationship with other
committees, had provided it with the ability to effectively discharge its
responsibilities. Academic Board approved the report for submission to the
Board of Governors.
18 December 2013
12 March 2014
21 May 2014
25 June 2014
AB Minutes: H Millican
Draft Unconfirmed: 9/10/13
Unconfirmed: 9/10/13
Actioning Officer
Acting Dirctor CAS No later than 12
Observance Policy, and PVC LTSE
noon Friday 13 June
re-work draft to be
Systems integration DVC Resources and End of October
- written update to Deputy Clerk
be circulated
SU President, VC By 12 March 2014
participation in the and Acting Director Board meeting
student rep system of CAS