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Ordinance 11: Academic Employment

Academic Employment

In recognition of the fact that there may be concerns about Academic Freedom in relation to Statute 11, the academic community will formalise through its elected members of Senate its commitment to the safeguarding of Academic Freedom. This ordinance outlines the principles and procedures by which this body (the Academic Freedom Review Committee) will implement this responsibility, building on its work to review on an annual basis its processes and underlying principles, and if necessary to make recommendations regarding the Ordinance itself.

11.1: Matters realting to Academic Freedom - Gross Misconduct and Redundancy

(1)

The University will have policies and procedures governing its Academic Staff (as defined in Statute Part II (2)(a)). These policies and procedures will include but will not be limited to redundancy and disciplinary. The University will ensure that these policies and procedures apply the principles of justice and fairness as prescribed in relevant legislation, regulation and good employment practices.

(2)

The University will have in place a procedure for the review of whether Academic Freedom (as defined in Statute Part II (1)(a)) has been infringed in cases involving the potential dismissal of Academic Staff (as defined in Statute Part II (2)(a)) on the grounds of:

(a)

gross misconduct

(b)

cumulative misconduct (i.e. potentially resulting in dismissal)

(c)

redundancy through the Redundancy Policy and Procedure

(3)

The Academic Freedom Review Committee (AFRC) will be a standing committee of the Senate and will operate as follows:

(a) The Committee will comprise all elected academic members of the Senate.
(b) The University will ensure that all AFRC members will be trained in the AFRC process and related principles.
(c) AFRC’s members will elect their own chair who will also serve in one of Senate’s positions on Council.
(d) The Chair of AFRC will provide an anonymised report to Senate and Council at the conclusion of the academic year.

(4)

The University will ensure members of Academic Staff have an opportunity to request a review of whether Academic Freedom has been infringed in accordance with the provisions as laid out in this Ordinance in relation to matters of redundancy and gross misconduct, (or cumulative misconduct which could potentially result in their dismissal). Where the member of Academic Staff considers there are matters of Academic Freedom, in relation to such cases, they should send, to the Chair of Senate, their explicit consent for the details of their case to be referred to AFRC.

(5)

When such a request is made, an AFRC panel will be established to examine potential matters of infringement of Academic Freedom. The detailed procedure for the AFRC panel will be as follows:

(a)

The Chair of Senate will delegate the responsibility to establish an AFRC panel to the AFRC Chair.

(b)

A Vice-Chair may be appointed by the Chair of Senate on the advice of the Chair of AFRC where the Chair may have a conflict of interest, or where the Chair is unable to fulfil their obligations due to significant workload issues.

(c)

The Vice-Chair will have full delegated powers to operate an AFRC panel.

(d)

Each AFRC panel will be supported by a member of Professional Services, who will advise on procedure.

(e)

The AFRC panel will benefit from administrative support, as determined by the Chair of Senate.

(f)

The Chair of AFRC may also invite in appropriate expertise as required.

(g)

Each AFRC will be under a duty to consider matters fully but also in a timely manner.

(h)

AFRC members will be expected to give priority to the work of the Committee and report their outcome as specified in Articles 6 and 7 below.
(6)

The role of AFRC in Disciplinary matters will be as follows:

 

(a)

The University is obliged to ensure members of Academic Staff have an opportunity to request a review of whether Academic Freedom has been infringed in accordance with provisions laid out in this Ordinance.
 

(b)

Where senior management (defined as line managed by the Vice-Chancellor) considers that a gross misconduct hearing should be convened, (or in the case of cumulative misconduct, where a final hearing is convened, which could result in dismissal), the member of Academic Staff will receive written notification of this and the allegations against them which will be addressed at the hearing.
 

(c)

The member of Academic Staff will be advised of their right to submit a case to the AFRC if they consider that there has been an infringement of their Academic Freedom, as defined under Statute (Part II (1)).
 

(d)

The Chair of Faculty, or if there is a conflict of interest, a senior member of Academic Staff, will be available to act as an Adviser to the AFRC.
 

(e)

An AFRC panel will be established to consider if there is prima facie case of an infringement of Academic Freedom. If there is, the panel may convene a meeting and consider evidence from the relevant senior manager as well as the individual, and others as appropriate, normally including the Head of Department, and possibly academic subject experts as appropriate.
 

(f)

AFRC will normally complete its work within four working weeks of the allegations being restated to the individual, although this may take longer in complex cases. Where the AFRC panel believe that their review will exceed this time period, they shall inform the relevant parties.
 

(g)

AFRC will produce a report of its findings, judging whether or not (aspects of) the case infringes upon Academic Freedom. If at any stage AFRC decides that there are relevant matters of Academic Freedom, they will report their findings to the Senate and the Council.
 

(h)

Where AFRC make a judgement that a case (in part or in its entirety) is not related to Academic Freedom, the case (or the relevant part of the case) will continue to a disciplinary hearing in line with the disciplinary policy and procedure.
 

(i)

The AFRC findings will be made available to the disciplinary panel for information. However, the disciplinary panel cannot overturn the decision of the AFRC in relation to matters of Academic Freedom.
 

(j)

In the event that the allegation of gross misconduct is founded and dismissal ensues, this will be reported to the Senate and Council
 

(k)

A member of Academic Staff may appeal this decision to dismiss them in accordance with the University’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.
 

(l)

In the event that the appeal is wholly or in part based on either a breach of AFRC procedure or due to significant new evidence related to Academic Freedom, the appeal will be referred to AFRC before going to the Appeals Panel.
(7)

The role of AFRC in the Redundancy Procedure will be as follows:

(a)

A business case proposing the redundancy of members of Academic Staff (as defined in Statute – Part II (2)(a)) will be prepared by senior management and considered by the Council.

(b)

If the business case is approved, senior management will develop the case for redundancy in terms of the proposed pool and criteria and will consult with relevant trade unions, as appropriate.

(c)

An AFRC panel will be established to consider whether Academic Freedom (as defined in Statute – Part II (1)) has been infringed in the setting of the proposed pool and criteria for redundancy and may call upon members of the University (for example senior management or academic subject experts) to provide additional information or clarification if required.

(d)

AFRC will report their findings to the Senate and Council. Senate will report to the Council about the academic freedom aspects of the proposed redundancy.

(e)

If Senate reports that there is no infringement of Academic Freedom and this is accepted by the Council, providing that, as a minimum, the University’s legal obligations for meaningful consultation with relevant trade unions have been met, the redundancy consultation process with individuals will commence in accordance with the All Staff Redundancy Policy and Procedure.

(e)

If Senate reports that there is no infringement of Academic Freedom and this is accepted by the Council, providing that, as a minimum, the University’s legal obligations for meaningful consultation with relevant trade unions have been met, the redundancy consultation process with individuals will commence in accordance with the All Staff Redundancy Policy and Procedure.

(f)

Throughout the redundancy consultation period, those in the pool will be informed that, if they are made redundant, they will have the right to appeal against their redundancy.

(g)

Where redundancies are confirmed, Senate and Council will be notified.

(h)

Individuals will have the right to appeal against their redundancy, normally within four working weeks, of receipt of notification of redundancy.

(i)

In circumstances where a member of Academic Staff appeals against their redundancy on the basis that it infringes their Academic Freedom, then such matters would fall to AFRC to be considered as part of the appeal process.

(j)

AFRC will consider an appeal (normally in writing), however, if it considers it necessary will convene an AFRC appeal panel. In such circumstances, the Chair of Faculty, or if there is a conflict of interest, a senior academic, will be available to act as an Adviser to the AFRC.

(k)

The AFRC panel will report to both management and the individual. The work of the AFRC panel must be completed as soon as possible and normally within four working weeks of receipt of appeal.

(l)

AFRC’s report will also be considered by a Redundancy Appeal body as set out in the all staff policy. The individual will have the right to present to the Redundancy Appeal body in person if they wish to do so. The decision of the Redundancy Appeal body will be final and shall be reported to the Council.