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An update from Chris Ennew, Provost - December 2017

A message from Provost Christine Ennew updating on reform of Statute 24 and its related Ordinances

18 December 2017

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to update you on work that has been ongoing in relation to the reform of Statute 24. You will recall from my last update in June that after extensive discussion on the proposed changes to the Statute, Senate had agreed that a subgroup should be set up. The remit of the subgroup would be to undertake further work in relation to how best to determine whether a proposed employment process was actually an infringement of an individual’s academic freedom.

I am pleased to confirm that since this last update, the subgroup has met a number of times and has also held discussions with the Director, People Group, representatives from HR and myself. These discussions have helped provide clarity in relation to the proposed early test of Academic Freedom by confirming that a Committee could be established, to determine whether academic freedom had been infringed prior to the instigation of any disciplinary/grievance proceedings. In the case of redundancy proceedings affecting academic members of staff, the Committee would determine at an early stage whether the proposed redundancy pool and criteria represented an infringement of academic freedom.

The sub-group also led an event with University Council to ensure a greater understanding of the nature of academic freedom and its importance to the employment relationship.

The outcome of these discussions is that the subgroup and University believe that the proposals will serve to strengthen the protection of academic freedom afforded to academic members of staff; ensure that employment processes are more efficient, reducing any unnecessary delay and the protection of academic freedom will be enshrined in ordinances. It is hoped that as a consequence of more streamlined employment processes, the University will be able to review its contractual offering for academic staff with a view to reducing dependency on fixed term and casual contracts.

The subgroup intends to report its progress to Senate in January and then to report back to Assembly. There will also be a further discussion with UCU and progress will be reported to Council in February.

A further update will be provided in the new year.

Best wishes,

Christine Ennew, Provost.