UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN
Minutes of the meeting held on 29 January 2003
Present: Principal, Professors Sewel, Logan and Houlihan, Dr JG Roberts, Professors Rodger, Torrance and MacGregor, Ms CA Macaslan, Professors Hubbuck, Thomson, Sleeman, Urwin, Racey, Gane, Jordan, Chandler, Bryden, Graham, Logie, Watson, Beaumont, Hunter, Dunkley Ohlmeyer and Secombes, Dr B Fennell, Dr S Kunin, Mrs L Stephen, Mr I Stefanov, Professors Blaikie, Duff, Lurie, Salmon, Saunders, Shucksmith, Mr WTC Brotherstone, Dr G Coghill, Dr I Craw, Dr P Edwards, Dr J Farmer, Dr J Geddes, Dr C Gray, Dr D Hay, Dr D Heddle, Dr M Holmes, Dr J King, Dr PR Kinnear, Dr WD McCausland, Dr D Macphee, Dr A Memon, Dr JG Ollason, Dr D Pearson, Dr LJ Philip, Mrs ML Ross, Dr H Sinclair, Mr SC Styles, Dr M Syrotinski, Dr SP Townsend, Dr HM Wallace, Mr D Cockburn, Mr M Raith, Ms D White, Dr N Dower with Ms J Duncan in attendance.
Apologies for absence were received from Professors Lyall, Pennington, Mordue, Miller, Forrester, Templeton, Spracklen, Harris, Seaton, Williams, Deregowski, Bruce, Baker, Whalley, Helms, Jolliffe, Hurst, Forte, Ritchie, Buckland, Sharp, Macinnes, Della Sala, Seymour, Docherty, Rees, Webster, Little, Hukins, Cassidy, Killham, Fraser, Hutchison, Evans-Jones, Lomax, Gilbert, Alexander, Booth, Flin, Dawson, Hannaford, Pope, Freeston, Ingold, Macdonald, Leboutte, Van der Merwe, Davidson, Simpson, Howe, Player, McCaig, Ayres, Roberts, Mitchell, Greaves, Smith, St Clair, Ms R Buchan, Dr J Murdoch, Ms M Ramsay, Dr I Ross, Professor PR Duff, Dr A D Clarke, Mr PB Wilson, Mr G Pryor, Ms C McCourt, Professors Archbold, Gow, Heys, Hotson, Reid, Swanson, Dr P Benson, Ms L Clark, Mrs B Hookey, Dr A Hull, Dr D Inglis, Dr AW Laing, Dr J MacDowall, Dr H McKenzie, Ms DW McKenzie Skene, Dr MR Masson, Mr LE Moffat, Dr AJ Mordue, Dr C Thomson, Dr ER van Teijlingen, Dr M White, Mr B Gunnee, Ms S Kemp, Mr C Galleitch and Ms C McCay
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
683. The minutes of the meeting of 20 November 2002 and of the Winter Graduation Ceremonies were approved.
STATEMENT BY PRINCIPAL
684.1 The Principal drew Senate’s attention to a number of recent and prospective external publications and consultation documents that, potentially, could have a significant impact on the future shape and funding of higher education in the UK. While the Government’s recently-published White Paper: The Future of Higher Education would have major implications for English Universities, the impact of the proposals for Scottish Higher Education would not be known until the Scottish Executive had published its proposals for Scotland. Nevertheless, it seemed likely that several of the proposals in the Government’s White Paper, when considered in light of a current consultation on the standards of research degrees and on an impending consultation on the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), would result in a significantly more competitive environment, with research being concentrated in a relatively small number of Universities in the UK. Since these external variables could have a major effect on the outcome of the merger discussions with The Robert Gordon University, the Principal indicated that they would need to be considered seriously during the forthcoming weeks and months. He then invited Professor The Lord Sewel to comment further on the Government’s White Paper and Professor Logan to update the Senate on the merger discussions.
684.2 Professor Sewel indicated that he expected the thrust of the Scottish Executive’s impending proposals for Higher Education to be broadly similar to those proposed for England and, when taken together with the external consultations on Research Degree Standards and the RAE, were likely to result in a very radical restructuring of Higher Education in the UK.
684.3 Although increased funding would be made available to English Universities, partly through being able to charge higher fees than at present, details of the Scottish Executive’s proposals for funding teaching and for student financial support were awaited. However, it seemed clear that funding for research would be concentrated in universities with a predominance of subjects with the highest RAE ratings. Currently, the University of Aberdeen was not in this position. This likely future scenario would therefore need to be taken into consideration by the University in its preparations of Costed Academic Plans. It was also extremely important to assess the likely ability of a merged institution to achieve the future criteria for being considered as a research-intensive university.
684.4 In regard to the merger discussions, Professor Logan indicated that the vast majority of reports from the various academic groups had now been submitted. All reports would be made available to Heads of School in the Faculties of Arts & Divinity, Social Sciences & Law and Science & Engineering, and to Heads of Department in the Faculties of Education and Medicine & Medical Sciences, for dissemination and discussion within Schools and Departments as considered appropriate, on the understanding that all reports were confidential to the University. Deans would also be asked to undertake some editing of reports prior to circulation, to ensure that individuals could not be identified from the reports. Professor Logan indicated that the reports should be considered as position papers and encouraged wide discussion and participation within Faculties. Professor Logan and other Vice-Principal’s would attend meetings that would be organised by Deans, to engage in discussions and to ensure that Faculties’ views were considered by Senior Management as part of a dynamic process of consultation and discussion. Senior Management would then formulate a position paper, to incorporate the outcomes of the reports from the academic groups and the further discussions within Faculties, and also to incorporate the outcome of financial, estates and constitutional analyses that were currently being undertaken. This consultation paper would be discussed at the Senate on 5 March, the outcome of which would inform the development of formal proposals, for discussion at the Senate and the University Court in June.
During discussion, the following points were agreed:-
684.5 In conclusion, the Principal indicated that he believed it unlikely that the governing body of either institution would support a merger if the overwhelming view of their institution’s academic body was against merger.
MOTION FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
685.1 The Principal invited Mr Cockburn to address the Senate in regard to the Students’ Association concerns at the introduction of top-up fees that had been announced recently in the Government’s White Paper (Minute 684.3 above refers).
685.2 Mr Cockburn indicated that the Students’ Association opposed the introduction of top-up fees for several reasons: that they would lead to a two-tier system whereby some students would be unable to afford to attend certain universities; that access to Higher Education would be deterred; that student debt would become normalised and would increase compared with current levels; that the introduction of top-up fees would not resolve the problems of funding teaching in universities; and that graduates currently contributed significantly to the economy and that the proposals for top-up fees would increase this level of contribution by graduates.
685.3 During discussion, it was agreed that the points made by Mr Cockburn were extremely cogent, although they were related primarily to English Universities and students attending those institutions. While the general thrust of the Scottish Executive’s proposals for the future of Higher Education were likely to be similar to those for England, there would be some differences, one of which was likely to be in the detailed arrangements for the funding of universities and student support. The Minister for Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning had already publicly stated that top-up fees would not be introduced in Scotland. It was therefore suggested that the Senate should defer reaching a view on the various funding proposals until the Scottish proposals had been announced and there had been opportunity for a full and considered discussion on the various issues.
685.4 Mr Cockburn indicated that the Students’ Association was willing to withdraw the motion that had been placed on the Agenda, on the understanding that there would be an opportunity for the Senate to give full consideration to the strategy for, and funding of, Higher Education in Scotland, once it had been published by the Scottish Executive.
685.5 Mr Brotherstone, who had seconded the motion proposed by Mr Cockburn, also agreed that the motion should be withdrawn. The motion was not, therefore, formally considered by the Senate.
REPORT FROM THE UNIVERSITY COURT
(17 December 2002)
1. Draft Resolution No of 2002 [Chair of Public Health]
686.1 The Senate noted that the Court, at its meeting on 17 December 2002, had agreed that the following draft Resolution be forwarded to the Senate and made generally available in terms of Section 6 of the Universities (Scotland) Act, 1996.
DRAFT RESOLUTION NO OF 2002
[CHAIR OF PUBLIC HEALTH]
After consultation with the Senatus Academicus, the University Court of the University of Aberdeen, at its meeting on , passed the following Resolution:
Chair of Public Health
686.2 The Senate, for its part, approved the draft resolution.
2. Admissions Targets 2003
687. The Senate noted that the Court had approved various admissions targets for entry in the 2003/04 academic year, as recommended by the Joint Planning, Finance & Estates Committee.
3. Partnership Agreement – Barony College
688. The Senate noted that the Court had approved a recommendation from the Senate that a Partnership Agreement with Barony College be approved.
4. Policy on Good Research Practice and Procedure on the Handling of
Allegations of Research Misconduct
689. The Senate noted that the Court had approved the Policy on Good Research Practice and Procedure on the Handling of Allegations of Research Misconduct, as recommended by the Senate.
5. Race Equality Policy
690. The Senate noted that the Court had approved the Race Equality Policy.
REPORT FROM THE JOINT PLANNING, FINANCE AND ESTATES COMMITTEE
(3 December 2002)
1. Going Rates for 2004 Entry
691. The Senate noted that the Joint Planning, Finance and Estates Committee had approved a recommendation from the Student Recruitment and Admissions Committee that there would be no change to the ‘Going Rates’ for admission for session 2004/05.
2. Three Year BA Programme in Arts & Social Sciences
692. The Senate noted that the Joint Planning, Finance and Estates Committee had approved a recommendation that the University withdraw from development of a three year Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Social Sciences.
REPORT FROM THE UNIVERSITY COMMITTEE ON TEACHING AND LEARNING
(13 December 2002)
693.1 The Senate noted that, in May 2002, the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL) had agreed that degree examination statistics should be routinely circulated to Faculties and that where failure rates exceed 20%, the Heads of relevant Schools/Departments should be asked to comment and to suggest remedies, where appropriate. The UCTL, at its meeting in December 2002, had received a request from the Academic Standards Committee (Science, Engineering & Medicine) for clarification of the procedures to be used in the exercise for monitoring degree exam pass rates and the role of the ASC in this process. In the light of this request, the UCTL had agreed to establish formal procedures for the monitoring of degree examination statistics, as detailed below:-
Where the failure rate is greater than 20%, Registry would circulate a report form with the relevant degree examination statistical information (with comparative data from the previous two years) pre-entered, by e-mail, to the relevant Heads of School/Department for completion.
693.2 During discussion, it was suggested that Heads of Department should only be required to report on courses where, after the August examination diet, the overall failure rate for a course (i.e. when combining the results for the first attempt in January or June with the resit results) exceeded 20%. It was agreed that the UCTL should consider this suggestion and report back to the Senate.
2. Review of SENAS Forms
694.1 The Senate noted that the UCTL had given consideration to the issue of completion of questions 25, 31 and 35 concerning learning outcomes of the new course proposal form, which had been referred by the Academic Standards Committee (Arts & Social Sciences, Education, Divinity and Law). The ASC were concerned that many Schools/Departments adopt a standard 'template' approach to the completion of these questions and did not really address the questions posed on a course by course basis.
694.2 In view of the change in external focus from Subject Review to Institutional Review and the accompanying revisions to the University's procedures for Internal Teaching Review, the UCTL agreed that it was appropriate to give consideration to a review of the SENAS forms and accordingly established a Working Group to come forward with recommendations to a future meeting of the UCTL.
3. Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework
695. The Senate noted that the UCTL Working Group on Qualifications Framework and Levels Descriptors had held its first meeting and had given consideration to ensuring compliance of existing awards with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). The SCQF required that, with effect from 2003 entry, all University awards should comply with the Framework. In interpreting this statement, the Working Group had agreed that by the start of 2003/04, the non-Honours degrees offered by the University should be compliant with the SCQF. While there were some issues that required to be addressed in regard to Honours programmes, it had been agreed that these should be dealt with through the Planning Cycle in 2003/04. Any student who first registered in September 2003 would not commence their Honours programme until at earliest September 2005, by which time these programmes would be compliant.
4. Institutional Strategy for the use of C&IT in Teaching, Learning and Assessment
696. The Senate noted that, following discussion of the recommendation from the Staffing and Development Committee that the University Committee on Teaching and Learning had given consideration to the development of an Institutional Strategy, a Working Party had been established to come forward with recommendations to a future meeting of the UCTL.
REPORT FROM THE ACADEMIC STANDARDS COMMITTEES
1. Degree; Diploma and Certificate Regulations
697.1 The Senate approved, for its part, and agreed to forward to the University Court, the draft Resolution ‘Changes in Regulations for Various Degrees’ (Appendix 1 – copy filed with the principal copy of the minute), which enacted the changes in Degree Regulations recommended by the Academic Standards Committees since March 2002.
697.2 In response to a question concerning the reason for increasing the credit requirement for award of the degree of Bachelor of Science in Pure Science (BSc), the Senate noted that this change, along with others in the draft Resolution, had been proposed to ensure compliance with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. It was agreed, however, that Professor Rodger, Dr Long and Dr Townsend should meet to discuss the potential implications of this change.
697.3 The Senate also approved, for its part, draft Regulations to govern award of the KEY Learning Certificate in Philosophical Studies, and various amendments to the Regulations for Certificates and Diplomas (Appendices 2 and 3 – copies filed with the principal copy of the minute).
697.4 The Senate also empowered the Conveners of the Undergraduate Programme Committees and the Convener of the Academic Standards Committee (Postgraduate) to consider and approve, on its behalf, any drafting amendments to the above documents which might be suggested by the Business Committee of the General Council in the course of its consideration of the draft Resolution, or which might come to light following circulation or discussion of the Senate Papers.
2. New and Discontinued Courses and Programmes
698. The Senate noted that the Academic Standards Committees, on the recommendation of the relevant Faculties, had approved changes to the list of courses and programmes available, subject where indicated to resolution of queries with individual Schools and Departments (Appendix 4 - copy filed with the principal copy of the minute).
FITNESS TO PRACTISE
699.1 The Senate noted that Regulation 14 for the Degrees of MBChB currently provided for any health, conduct, behaviour or other issue that could bear on an MBChB candidate’s suitability or fitness to practise medicine to be investigated by the Fitness to Practise Committee of the Undergraduate Programme Committee (UPC) [Medicine]. If the Fitness to Practise Committee judged that a student was not "fit to practise", the UPC (Medicine) Students’ Progress Committee, on the recommendation of the Fitness to Practise Committee, may suspend or terminate a student’s studies. The Senate had delegated authority to Students’ Progress Committees to take decisions on its behalf. Any appeals against decisions of Students’ Progress Committees were therefore made directly to the University Court.
699.2. During 2002, the UPC (Medicine) had established a Group, under the convenership of Professor Peter Duff, School of Law, to consider the practical aspects of considering fitness to practise cases. The Group had been asked to bring forward proposals concerning the remit and composition of a Fitness to Practise Committee for Medicine and to develop procedures for dealing with cases.
In considering these issues, the Group had recommended the following to the UPC (Medicine):-
699.3. In considering the procedures for dealing with cases of fitness to practise, the Group had also taken cognisance of the likelihood that other professional areas of study, and in particular Education, were likely to seek to establish Fitness to Practise Committees and develop procedures in regard to their professions.
699.4 In approving the above recommendations, the UPC (Medicine) also had approved revisions to Regulation 14 for the Degrees of MBChB to take account of these recommendations, if approved by the Senate. The UPC (Education) had also approved changes to the BEd, BMus and PGCE Supplementary Regulations so that they would be consistent with the proposed MBChB Regulation 14. The various changes to the MBChB, BEd, BMus and PGCE Regulations were detailed in the draft Resolution "Changes in Regulations for Various Degrees" [Minute 697.1 above refers].
699.5 The Senate considered the following recommendations from the Undergraduate Programme Committee (Medicine):-
699.6 In approving the above recommendations, the Senate agreed to record the disassociation from these decisions of the President and Vice-President (Representation) of the Students’ Association.
APPOINTMENTS TO COMMITTEES
700. The Senate approved the following proposals:-
(i) that Dr J Murdoch be appointed to the Honorary Degrees Committee until 30 September 2006 in the first instance, vice Ms C Macaslan who would be in attendance at the Committee ex officio following her appointment as Dean of the Faculty of Education;
(ii) that Ms R Buchan, Ms M Ramsay and Professor M A Player be appointed to fill vacancies on the Committee for Research, Income Generation and Commercialisation, with immediate effect.
UNIVERSITY POSTGRADUATE OFFICER
701. The Senate approved a recommendation from the relevant Deans that Dr E C Phimister be appointed as a University Postgraduate Officer for Arts & Social Sciences, with immediate effect.
GRADUATION CEREMONIES : JULY 2003
702.1 The Senate approved the arrangements for the July 2003 Graduation Ceremonies, to be held in the Mitchell Hall, Marischal College, as shown below.
Ceremony 1: Monday 7 July at 11.00 A.M.
Higher Degrees in Arts & Social Sciences: MBA, MSc Econ and MSc Entrepreneurship
Designated and Honours Degrees of MA: Accountancy (Single and Joint), Economics [Economic Science] (Single and Joint), Economics [Political Economy] (Single and Joint), Entrepreneurship, European Management Studies, Finance-Management Studies, Management Studies to Management Studies-Sociology, Sports & Leisure Management
Ceremony 2: Monday 7 July at 3.00 P.M.
Designated and Honours Degrees of MA: Celtic Civilisation (Single and Joint), Celtic Studies, Celtic-History, English (Single and Joint), European Studies, Film Studies (Joint), French (Single and Joint), Gaelic Studies, German (Single and Joint), Hispanic Studies (Single and Joint), Language & Linguistics (Joint)
Ceremony 3: Tuesday 8 July at 11.00 A.M.
Higher Degrees in Law
Degrees and Honours Degrees of LLB
Ceremony 4: Tuesday 8 July at 3.00 P.M.
Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc: Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Environmental Microbiology, Genetics, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Physiology, Sports & Exercise Science
Degrees, Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc Biomed Sci
Higher Degrees in Medicine
Degrees of BSc Med Sci*
Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc Health Science
Ceremony 5: Tuesday 8 July at 6.30 P.M.
Designated and Honours Degrees of MA: Agricultural Economics-Management Studies, Countryside & Environmental Management, Environmental Geography, Geography to Geography-Sociology, Human Geography, International Relations-Legal Studies to International Relations-Sociology, Physical Geography, Political Studies, Politics & International Relations to Politics-Sociology
Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc: Animal Care, Animal Health & Welfare, Animal Science, Countryside & Environmental Management, Environmental Geography, Equine Science, Geography, Human Geography, Organic Agriculture, Physical Geography
Degrees, Designated Degrees and Honours Degrees of BSc Agr
Degrees and Designated Degrees of BSc For
Ceremony 6: Wednesday 9 July at 11.00 A.M.
Designated and Honours Degrees of MA: Computing, Information Systems & Management, Mathematics (Single and Joint), Mental Philosophy to Philosophy-Sociology, Psychology, Psychology with French, Statistics (Single and Joint)
Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc: Computing Science (Single and Joint), Mathematics (Single and Joint), Psychology
Ceremony 7: Wednesday 9 July at 3.00 P.M.
Higher Degrees in Science
Degrees of BSc (Ordinary)
Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc: Animal Ecology, Biology, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Immunobiology, Marine Biology, Parasitology, Plant Science, Soil Science, Tropical Environmental Science, Zoology
Ceremony 8: Thursday 10 July at 11.00 A.M.
Designated and Honours Degrees of BSc: Chemistry (all programmes), Geology & Petroleum Geology, Geoscience, Physics
Degrees of MChem
Higher Degrees in Engineering
Degrees of MEng, BEng and BSc Eng
Ceremony 9: Thursday 10 July at 3.00 P.M.
Higher Degrees in Arts & Social Sciences: PhD, MPhil, MRes and MLitt
Degrees of MA (Combined Studies Programme)
Designated and Honours Degrees of MA: Anthropology (Single and Joint), Cultural History (Single and Joint), Economic History (Joint), History (Single and Joint), History of Art (Single and Joint), Sociology, Sociology with Women’s Studies
Ceremony 10: Thursday 10 July at 6.30 P.M.
Higher Degrees in Arts & Social Sciences: MLE
Designated and Honours Degrees of MA: Divinity (Single and Joint), Religious Studies
Degrees and Honours Degrees of BLE
Degrees and Honours Degrees of BSc Marine Resource Management
Higher Degrees in Education
Honours Degrees of BEd
Degrees of BA
Higher Degrees in Divinity
Degrees and Honours Degrees of BD and BTh
Ceremony 11: Friday 11 July at 11.00 A.M.
Degrees of MBChB*
*The size of the graduating Medical class means that the BSc Med Sci degree could only be conferred at Ceremony 11 on those who were graduating MBChB at Ceremony 11. In all other cases, the BSc Med Sci degree would be conferred at Ceremony 4.
GRADUATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR DOCTORAL CANDIDATES
702. The Senate approved a proposal that doctoral candidates carry the scarlet robes for their degree at Graduation Ceremonies rather than wearing black gowns and that conferral of doctoral degrees be signified by the Sacrist assisting graduates into their gown rather than the current procedure of placing the appropriate hood on the graduate. These procedures were analogous to those currently used for the graduation of honorary doctoral candidates.
MONITORING STUDENTS’ PROGRESS
703. The Senate noted that the Vice-Principal for Teaching and Learning had held an open meeting with Advisers of Studies on 14 January 2003 and a meeting with Heads of School/Department on 16 January 2003 to discuss the new arrangements for monitoring students’ progress that had been implemented in the first half-session. Directors of Studies (Advising) and Undergraduate Programme Committee Conveners had attended each meeting. The meeting on 16 January had also been attended by Advisers representing each Area of Study. Following these meetings, Dr Roberts had taken Convener’s Action on behalf of the University Committee on Teaching and Learning to approve revisions to the system, for implementation either in the second half-session, where feasible, or in the next academic year.
UNIVERSITY ACCOUNTS AND STATEMENT OF ENDOWMENTS
704.1 The Senate noted that the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 July 2002 could be accessed at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/finance/accounts2002.hti
704.2 Members who wished to discuss any matter arising from the Accounts were asked to contact the Director of Finance by 19 February 2003 and, after such discussions, to indicate if they wished any issue to be discussed at the next meeting of the Senate.
704.3 It was noted that copies of the Statement of Endowments for the year ended 31 July 2002 could be obtained on request from the Secretary to the Director of Finance (firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone extension 2115).
GRADUATIONS IN ABSENTIA
705.1 The Senate noted that a list of those qualified to receive degrees and diplomas who had applied to have them conferred in absentia could be obtained from the Senate Office of the Registry. [See Appendix to Minutes of June 2003].
705.2 The Senate conferred the degrees on, and awarded the diplomas and other qualifications to, the persons stated.