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University Council

University council minutes 6 February 2024

Last updated: 27 March 2024

Academic Board Membership (for C.24.01):

Rakhee Aggarwal
Bobola Ajibola
Dr Matthew Andrews
Prof Cathia Jenainati
Prof Jackie Labbe
Dr Graham Parton
Prof Angus Pryor
Dr Matthew Reed
Dr Louisa Watts
Dr Julia Webb

University Council Membership:
Paige Archer (from C.24.02)
Ingrid Barker
Thomas Chambers
James Cooper
Paul Crichard
Nicola de Iongh (Chair)
Ruth Dooley
Chris Fung
Stephen Gardiner
Dr Louise Livesey (also on Academic Board)
Clare Marchant (Chair of Academic Board)
Pamela Sissons
Elonka Soros (from C.24.02)
David Soutter A
The Rt Revd Robert Springett
Joe Sucksmith (from C.24.02)
Julie Walking
Dr Peter Warry
Ibby Williams (also on Academic Board)

In attendance:
Julie-Ann Brooks, Director of People
Tom Kidd (for C.24.01), Head of UK Recruitment
Prof Jackie Labbe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost
Jess Lawson, Director (Strategic Planning and Transformation)
Camille Stallard, Chief Financial Officer
Nigel Wichall (for C.24.14), Director of Estates
Daniel Ramsay (Officer for Academic Board), Head of Academic Registry
(for C.24.01)
Tanya Collins (Minutes for C.24.01), Head of Governance and Legal
Dr Matthew Andrews (Officer for Council), Chief Operating Officer
Penny Gravestock (Minutes from C.24.02), Assistant Secretary to Council
Barnaby Rugge-Price, Observer

C.24.01          Identity and Growth

C.24.01.1       Received: a presentation from the Vice-Chancellor regarding maturing the University’s identity and brand, facilitated by the Director of Strategic Planning and Transformation, and the Interim Director of Communications, Marketing and Student Recruitment. The presentation included the University’s current priorities, its vision and values, and the refreshed identity proposition. 

C.24.01.2       Considered:

  1. the identity proposition had been through many iterations and was the outcome of staff and student workshops.  ‘The Connected University’ had been selected as the word ‘connected’ felt important to students and staff; the marketing could then talk about the University being digitally, employer and community connected. It was recognised that the institution had strengths in all three but that it could do more to be a connected University;
  2. how the University was community connected, particularly in relation to the region and the importance of getting out there.  It was questioned whether the University was measuring its engagement with partners and businesses, but also whether its identity should be broadened to include being globally connected;
  3. there was an observation that the pillars of provision included a mixture of general terminology and subject areas / courses which the University actually delivered.  In choosing the pillars, the University had had to balance words which would resonate, that were relevant and specific to the organisation and its curriculum and which would attract students, and to refine its identity to what it did really well;
  4. it was recognised that with T-levels, apprenticeships, an upcoming election, etc., there would be change and that the identity proposition was not set in stone.  However, the University needed to start talking about its identity internally which would then be translated to its marketing and brand. 

C.24.01.3       Discussed the following questions in breakout groups:

  1. how the University brought its identity to life;
  2. how the University would measure its success.

C.24.01.4       Noted feedback from the breakout group discussions included the following points:

  1. the importance of celebrating staff which were the ‘connection’ which, in turn, would improve student satisfaction and recruitment.  It was also noted that connection needed to be made more explicit for students in the University’s narrative, that connections could be brought to life through bringing different disciplines together and collaborating more, and living and breathing connections through performance, everyday role modelling, integrated into management meetings etc.;
  2. with the University’s mission, values, purpose, goals and new identity proposition, there was a risk of overly complicating the brand and messaging with too many straplines.  Simplicity was key in bringing the identity to life and it was suggested that these were stripped down to be more coherent e.g. ten things that everyone knew and which became a mantra that people believed in;
  3. the importance of not being static and needing to pick up and drive the pace; the University had spent a lot of time talking about what it was doing but that it was missing out on recruitment opportunities;
  4. the following measures of success were suggested: financial performance, recruitment figures, league table positions, staff and student survey results, Research Excellence Framework outcomes, and how and what the University was known for both in the region and further afield.  Part of the University’s big success would be City Campus, to signal that it had arrived in the county and that it wanted to be a destination.  Measuring success was also about recognition of the brand and being able to measure pride in terms of where people studied, the University’s alumni, but also through open day attendance, applications, graduate outcomes, whether people returned to the institution etc. 

C.24.01.5       Resolved: the Vice-Chancellor thanked attendees for their contributions and outlined the next steps.  It was noted that as the University put the refreshed identity out to staff and other stakeholders, it needed to strip back some of the other straplines and messaging so that they did not overlap.  The intention was that the identify would be the drive and focus for 2024 and 2025 recruitment, but for the University to also start using and applying it internally in its language etc. to ensure it was meaningful.

C.24.02          Prayer

                     The Rt Revd Robert Springett led the meeting in a prayer.

C.24.03          Welcome and Apologies

C.24.03.1       Received: apologies for absence from David Soutter. It was noted that Ingrid Barker and Elonka Soros had joined the meeting via Microsoft Teams.

C.24.03.2       Noted: that:

  1. there were two observers present at the meeting: Barnaby Rugge-Price and Jess Lawson;
  2. it was the first meeting of Council for Julie-Ann Brooks since she had joined the Executive team;
  3. it was the first meeting of Council for three new External Members: Thomas Chambers, James Cooper, and Ruth Dooley. Each Member and attendee introduced themselves.

C.24.04          Business of the Agenda

                     Noted: that:

  1. there had been no request to unstar any item on the agenda, and therefore it was assumed that papers C/11/24 and C/12/24 had been approved or noted as stated;
  2. there would be one item raised under Any Other Business.

C.24.05          Declarations of Interest

                     Received: the following declarations of interest:

  1. that Dr Louise Livesey was a member of staff and a member of the University and College Union (UCU);
  2. that Joe Sucksmith was a member of staff and a member of Unison;
  3. that Julie Walkling was currently working with Cardiff University.

C.24.06          Minutes of the meeting held on 28 November 2023

                     Resolved: it was agreed that the minutes were an accurate record of the meeting held on 28 November 2023.

C.24.07          Matters Arising (C/01/24)

                     Received: details of the matters arising as outlined in the paper.

C.24.08          Chair’s Business

C.24.08.1       Received: a verbal update from the Chair, noting recent attendance at a meeting of the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) and discussions held regarding sector issues, regulatory compliance, and government priorities. The Chair noted that it was essential to focus on what the University could do under such a challenging environment. In response to a query, it was noted that the Deputy Vice-Chancellor would be attending a Universities UK event on financial sustainability and would disseminate anything useful after the meeting.

C.24.08.2       Received: updates from each of the Committee Chairs on key discussions held at the following meetings:

  1. Governance and Nominations Committee, 13 December 2023;
  2. Council Chairs’ Group, 10 January 2024;
  3. Finance and General Purposes Committee, 23 January 2024;
  4. Council Chairs’ Group, 8 November 2023;
  5. Remuneration and Human Resources Committee, 5 February 2024.

C.24.08.3       Noted: that since the last meeting, there had been two matters agreed via circulation related to the Executive restructure (these were reported under Confidential Business).

                       It was also noted that the Company Seal had been used on the following occasions:

  1. 11 December 2023 – for a deed of rectification between the University and Aviva Investors Commercial Assets GP Ltd and Aviva Investors Commercial Assets Nominee Ltd related to land between Ladybellegate Street and Barbican Road in Gloucester;
  2. 24 January 2024 – for a deed of variation of contract between the University, Aster Communities and E.G. Carter and Company Ltd related to the Folley in Cheltenham.

C.24.09          SU Update Report to Council (C/02/24)

C.24.09.1       Received: the Students’ Union (SU) update, noting in particular:

  1. the latest campaign news;
  2. the success of the January Welcome events;
  3. the upcoming elections for the three Full Time Officers;
  4. plans for Varsity to be held 18-20 March 2024.

C.24.09.2       Considered:

  1. that following some issues in 2023, the elections would be held in person on campus. A concern was raised that there was a risk of disenfranchising certain groups by not allowing electronic voting;
  2. the preparation in advance of a meeting with the local Members of Parliaments, noting the focus on student concerns regarding the cost of living. It was suggested that the University’s progress with the City Campus and work on its identity could also be raised with them;
  3. the Varsity timetable, noting sessions being held at the Oxstalls arena.

C.24.09.3       Noted: the recent activities within the Students’ Union.

C.24.10          CONFIDENTIAL: Vice-Chancellor’s Report (C/03/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.11          CONFIDENTIAL: December Finance Report, 2023/24 Forecast 1 and 2024/25 Budget Process (C/04/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.12          CONFIDENTIAL: Financial Scenarios (C/05/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.13          People Plan Priorities (C/06/24)

C.24.13.1       Received: an update on the People Strategy and its core principles and goals. The Director of People highlighted key activities on both a short- and long-term basis against each of the core principles.

C.24.13.2       Discussed:

  1. the need to focus on culture;
  2. the importance of engagement between Schools and Professional Service departments. It was noted that expectations were being set with the leadership group;
  3. the process for annual staff reviews, noting that practice varied across the institution. It was reported that the University needed to recreate a positive performance culture with its values being incorporated into the review, and that it should be developed so there were more touch points during the year rather than just at an annual meeting;
  4. that the review process needed to be clear on expectations which would then allow more effective performance management;
  5. that whilst the review process had been frozen for academic staff for a year, it had continued for professional services.

C.24.13.3       Noted: the update and the priorities.

C.24.14         CONFIDENTIAL: Estates Projects Progress Report (C/07/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.15          CONFIDENTIAL: Council and Sub-Committee Membership (C/08/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.16          CONFIDENTIAL: Independent Review (C/09/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.17          CONFIDENTIAL: Academic Board Update for Council (C/10/24)

                     Noted: that due to time constraints, this report would be presented to the next meeting of Council in March 2024.

ACTION: Vice-Chancellor

C.24.18          Council and its Committees: meeting dates* (C/10/24)

Resolved: Council:

  1. noted the previously agreed dates for 2024/25, and approved the proposal for the 2024 Council Away Day and the October 2024 meeting of Remuneration and Human Resources Committee;
  2. considered and approved the new dates for 2025/26.

C.24.19          CONFIDENTIAL: Apprenticeships Update* (C/11/24)

                     This item was considered under Confidential Business.

C.24.20          Council Schedule of Business* (C/12/24)

                     Noted: the Schedule of Business;

C.24.21          Minutes from Council Committees*

                     Noted: that the minutes from the following meetings would be available from

  1. Governance and Nominations Committee, 13 December 2023
  2. Finance and General Purposes Committee, 23 January 2024

C.24.22          Any Other Business

                     Noted: an update from the Vice-Chancellor that each Member of Council would be allocated a contact from the Executive team and offered a call before meetings.

C.24.23          Date of Next Meeting

                     Tuesday, 19 March 2024 at 9.15 am via Microsoft Teams.

Minute numberActionResponsibility
C.24.17                                                                             CONFIDENTIAL: Academic Board Update for Council Noted: that due to time constraints, this report would be presented to the next meeting of Council in March 2024.      Vice-Chancellor

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