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Before the Meeting

Finalising the Agenda

  1. It is the Committee Secretary's responsibility to draft the agenda and, depending on the Committee, may involve a call for items being sent to Committee members. Working from the previous year's agenda is a good starting point, particularly in relation to standing items or items that appear at a particular point of the year. However, don't assume that an agenda drafted in this manner will cover everything of relevance. The considerations of sub-committees or the body that your committee reports to may also be useful and should be reviewed, as well as institutional or sector developments of relevance to your committee.
  2. It is good practice for Chairs and Secretaries to hold an 'Agenda-setting' meeting to discuss what business is likely to arise and to discuss what may be raised under Chair's Business.
  3. The Chair of the Committee will approve the agenda approximately ten days before the meeting, in order to allow papers to be circulated a week in advance. The Chair of the Committee has the final say on what goes on the agenda.
  4. Typically, an agenda will start with the approval of the minutes of the previous meeting, followed by Matters Arising, followed by Chair's Business, followed by the rest of the agenda.
  5. Agendas are often split into two sections: above the line (items for discussion) and below the line (items for information or approval that don't require discussion). There is no requirement to do this, but it is a convenient way to ensure that items of strategic importance are given an appropriately prominent position in the meeting and therefore have enough time spent on them. Not approaching the agenda in this manner runs the risk of less important items becoming the subject of extended discussion and important items being squashed into the end of the meeting. Ultimately it is the Chair's decision as to how the agenda is structured.
  6. Depending on the nature of the items discussed at your Committee, there may be a need to have a separate Restricted Agenda. Restricted items are strictly confidential and will typically involve information that concerns specific and identified (or identifiable) individuals. Decisions on what should or should not be classed as restricted should be made by the Chair and Secretary, in liaison with the Governance team if necessary, in line with the University's Information Classification Policy. Student members do not receive restricted agendas, papers or minutes and should not be present in the room when they are being discussed.
  7. Chairs may wish to invite individuals to speak to papers that they have written, and the Secretary will make arrangements with the individual for the time for them to appear. They should stay for the consideration of the relevant item only.

Distributing Papers

The agenda and papers are usually sent out a week in advance of the meeting by the Secretary, and Committee members must always have the papers for the weekend prior to the meeting.

Late / Tabled Papers

  1. If a paper is not ready in time for distribution, but cannot be deferred until the next meeting, it is possible for a paper to be sent as part of a second circulation, or indeed tabled at the meeting. Neither is encouraged, and should be avoided wherever possible in order to allow committee members enough time to consider the paper, and in the context of other papers on the agenda. Tabling a paper, in particular, should only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
  2. If it is necessary to have a second circulation or to table a paper, they should be clearly marked on the agenda as "To follow", or "To be tabled".