«UC 359 LIVERPOOL HOPE UNIVERSITY Annual General Meeting of Liverpool Hope University UNIVERSITY COUNCIL: TUESDAY 26th NOVEMBER 2013 PRESENT: Mgr John ...»
LIVERPOOL HOPE UNIVERSITY
Annual General Meeting of Liverpool Hope University
UNIVERSITY COUNCIL: TUESDAY 26th NOVEMBER 2013
PRESENT: Mgr John Devine (in the Chair), Ms Anne Seddon, Ms Eleanor Benson,
Dr Wendy Bignold, The Rt Revd Richard Blackburn, Dr John Brinkman,
Dr Jimmy Chubb, Mr Frank Cogley, Mr Mike Gilbertson,
Dr Penny Haughan, Mr Charles Mills, Professor Atulya Nagar,
The Revd Michael O’Dowd, Professor Gerald Pillay, Mr Ben Ramsdale, Revd Howard Sharp, Mrs Diane Shaw, Mrs Maggie Swinson, Sr Margaret Walsh, Miss Clare Whittington-Egan, Revd Peter Winn, HH Judge Graham Wood (22 members).
By invitation: Mr Graham Donelan (Clerk); Ms Ann Marie Fowles (minute secretary).
Apologies for absence had been received from Sr Dr Kathleen Bishop, Professor Hilary Russell and Cllr Nick Small.
The Chair invited members to remember in prayer the following supporters of the University who had died recently: Dr Geoffrey Barnard, former principal of S.
Katharine’s; Mrs Doreen Burke, wife of the former Rector of Liverpool Institute of Higher Education (LIHE) and Mrs Pat Dennis, a governor of LIHE and former member of Staffing Committee.
The paper on Conflicts of Interest was noted.
1. Apologies for absence were noted
2. Minutes of previous meetings The minutes of the meetings held on 4th July 2013 and on 17th October 2013 were APPROVED as a correct record.
3. Matter Arising from those minutes The Chair advised that all matters arising would be dealt with under the substantive items on the agenda.
4. Vice-Chancellor's Notes to Council The Vice-Chancellor highlighted a number of points from his report to Council.
It was noted that the allocation of teacher training numbers by the National College for Teaching & Leadership (NCTL) had resulted in a reduction in numbers for PGCE Secondary and withdrawal of all places for PGCE Primary.
This was in line with the government’s aim to have half of teacher training places in schools by 2015 and had affected all institutions which did not have an “Outstanding” grade in the most recent Ofsted inspection. Members were advised that a strategy was in place to mitigate the reduction in student numbers and associated loss of income of around £2.7m. This would include strengthening the University’s engagement with the School Direct programme through delivery of the academic components of teacher education programmes and accreditation of qualifications. It was recognised that the University’s long- standing commitment to partnership arrangements was valued by schools in the region. The Chair commented that the academic repositioning of the University over the last five years had proved advantageous in terms of broadening the range of provision and minimising the risks to the University of changes in external funding priorities or Government educational policies. He reminded members that the University’s Constitution included an obligation to educate teachers for Church schools. It was felt that the opportunities for engagement with professional practice and practitioner research offered by the Faculty of Education would strengthen the University’s offering in this respect. With regard to the forthcoming return visit by Ofsted, the Vice-Chancellor reported that staff continued to implement the action plan and a mock inspection, undertaken by current HMI inspectors, had been completed with broadly positive outcomes.
The Vice-Chancellor reported that Rectorate Team received regular updates on preparations for the Ofsted visit.
In terms of overall student numbers, it was noted that there had been a reduction in the recruitment of undergraduates within the HEFCE student number control. The Vice Chancellor commented that some constriction of student numbers would allow the University to reset the staff:student ratio in order to maintain the quality of academic provision. He reminded members that Council had endorsed the policy of maintaining entry levels and this had contributed to the progress achieved on measures such as retention, progression and achievement rates. The student recruitment strategy would focus on strengthening the church schools’ network and growing international student numbers. At the same time, the planned recruitment of high quality academic staff would continue, with an emphasis on research-informed teaching posts. Given the fluctuations in student numbers outlined above, it was acknowledged that some re-deployment of staff into developing areas of the curriculum might be required, although the Vice-Chancellor confirmed that there were no plans, indeed no need, for a second phase of the Change Management programme.
Reporting on the financial position of the University, the Vice-Chancellor confirmed that the strategy of protecting a minimum healthy surplus would 2 continue. It was noted that adherence to this strategy had enabled capital projects to be completed without borrowing, including the re-acquisition of Aigburth student residences. Management would continue to balance plans for continued investment in the enhancement of student facilities with the need to maintain an appropriate level of cashflow. Members were advised that the next capital investment priority had been identified as strengthening science provision and the development of new science and sport facilities.
The Vice Chancellor informed members that the University had recently completed its submission for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and he wished to acknowledge the work of Professor Nagar, as Chair of the REF Steering Group, in coordinating the submission. Professor Nagar confirmed that 52% of eligible academic staff had been entered at the level of 2* and above (i.e. research at least internationally recognised). This demonstrated the scope and quality of research at the University and members commended the progress made in this area since the previous Research Assessment Exercise in 2008. It was noted that the results of the REF would be announced in December 2014 and research funding decisions based on the outcomes of the current exercise would come into effect in the academic year 2015/16.
Members had received the External Auditors’ Management Letter which had been considered in detail at Audit Committee. It was noted that the External Auditors had provided an unqualified opinion on the Financial Statements for 2012-13. Members were advised that three low-priority performance improvement observations within the Management Letter were being addressed by the relevant management teams. It was noted that the management letter had considered key areas of risk, in particular the recognition of income for the HEFCE grant and associated tuition fee / bursary arrangements and the risks associated with the outcome of Ofsted inspections. The Committee had been assured that those areas were being given an appropriate level of attention by management and that actions were being taken to mitigate the level of risk.
The External Auditors’ Management Letter on the Financial Statements for the year ended 31st July 2013 was APPROVED.
Mr Cogley highlighted the discussion on the Students’ Union financial procedures, which had been raised as a matter of concern by Audit Committee and the Finance & General Purposes Committee. It was noted that audited year-end accounts for 2012-13 had not been presented to Council in accordance with the agreed schedule which had been a matter of grave concern to Audit Committee. Mr Ramsdale confirmed that full financial statements would be presented to the Students’ Union Board of Trustees which was due to meet the following day. Release of the accounts was subject to approval by the Trustees and, in the interim, a draft statement of financial activity had been circulated to the Chairs of both Committees and to the Chair of Council.
Whilst members acknowledged the legal role of the Trustees in approving the accounts prior to submission to Council, there was serious concern across the Council over the failure to adhere to the agreed control framework. It was suggested that this be addressed by the preparation of a schedule of key dates to ensure alignment of processes in future. In addition, there were on-going concerns regarding 4 the quality of the information contained within the statements that had been received. Ms Seddon, as Chair of Finance & General Purposes Committee, reported that that committee had also been very disappointed with the situation. She commented that the most recent quarterly management report had indicated that there had been some improvement in financial record-keeping, but members of Finance & General Purposes Committee had noted that the report had not included a quarterly balance sheet which would be essential in order for the Committee to monitor the financial position of the Students’ Union.
Members reiterated its disappointment with the failure of the Students’ Union to meet the schedule and endorsed the recommendation of both Committees that the conditions attached to the release of funding should be enforced in the event that the year-end accounts were not presented in accordance with the agreed schedule. It was agreed that the Chairs of Audit Committee and Finance & General Purposes Committee would meet as soon as possible after the Trustees meeting to consider the full set of financial information and to advise the Chair of Council on any actions to be taken.
In addition, Mr Gilbertson offered to provide support and advice to the Students’ Union officers on issues with financial control and the preparation of accounts.
(iv) Representation Letter Council APPROVED the Letter of Representation to be submitted with the Financial Statements to the External Auditors.
(v) Appointment of External Auditors Council APPROVED the re-appointment of KPMG as External Auditors of the Company until the next AGM (subject to satisfactory performance).
(vi) Annual Report of the Internal Audit Service 2012/13 Council APPROVED the annual report of the Internal Audit Service for 2012/13. It was noted that arrangements for internal audit would remain unchanged following the merger of RSM Tenon and Baker Tilly.
(vii) Annual Report of the Audit Committee 2012/13 Council APPROVED the annual report of the Audit Committee for 2012/13.
7. Finance & General Purposes Committee and Financial Report and Accounts for the year ended 31st July 2013 Ms Seddon, as Chair of the Committee, presented the minutes of the meeting held on 4th November 2013.
With regard to the Financial Report, Ms Seddon highlighted the achievement of a surplus of £5.3m, representing 10.2% of turnover. It was acknowledged that this was a strong result given the decrease in overall income due to the new funding regime and the overall increase in expenditure, in particular staffing costs, during the period.
6 Members were pleased to note that the increase in cash reserves had enabled the University to complete a programme of Estates developments without recourse to borrowing. This had included the re-acquisition of the Aigburth Park site. Members noted that, in line with the delegation of authority agreed at the meeting of Council held on 4th July 2013, the Chair of Council and the Chair of Finance & General Purposes Committee had deemed it was in the best interests of the University to proceed to offer to purchase the property at the price of £6.7 million. The Chair wished to commend the management of the process and the successful conclusion of negotiations by members of the Finance and Estates team.
Council ADOPTED the Report and Accounts for the year ended 31st July 2013.
The Financial Forecast for 2013-14, which included a revised target surplus of £3,957m, was APPROVED.
8. Council Standing Committee on Health and Safety Mr Mills, on behalf of the Chair of the Council Standing Committee on Health & Safety, introduced the minutes of the meeting which had been held on 29th October 2013. Members noted the Health & Safety Action Plan for 2013-14 which would be monitored by the Committee.
The Code of Practice on Manual Handling was APPROVED.
Students’ Union 9.
The President of the Students’ Union, Mr Ramsdale, presented his report. It was noted that during the previous year a full Trustee Board had been established and that Charitable Status had been achieved.
Mr Ramsdale outlined a range of initiatives to increase student engagement, including a sports and societies development plan, a women’s leadership programme and strengthening the course representative system in partnership with the University. Monitoring of participation in clubs and society activities would be facilitated by the revised Students’ Union website.
10. Staffing Committee
Fr O'Dowd, the Chair of the Committee, presented the minutes of the meeting held on 31st October 2013. There were no recommendations arising from the meeting, although it was noted that a revised Personnel Strategy was in development and would be subject to University-wide consultation prior to submission to Council for approval.
R 12. As recommended as good practice by the CUC Guide, the Chair gave a (verbal) report on the principles used by the Senior Remuneration Panel in determining salaries in 2013.