Reporter 406, 22 September 1997


Letters

Taxing times for University catering

Andrew Page, Residential and Commercial Services

Members of staff using the University refectory recently will have noticed an unwelcome increase in prices. Recent changes in policy by H M Customs and Excise have brought the University Catering Service into some debate with the Inland Revenue and we would ask that our customers co-operate with us while these policy changes are challenged. The rules pertaining to VAT on supplies of catering products are complex – particularly within a university environment.

We have been obliged to add 17.5% VAT to the price of all staff meals in the refectory. Prices to students are exempt from VAT, and, in the past, we were allowed to extend this exemption to all refectory sales under a ‘majority use’ concession; this concession was withdrawn from 1 September 1997. In order to comply with the Revenue’s requirements, please inform cashiers if you are a member of staff in order that correct prices may be applied. (SCR prices already include VAT).

Sales from coffee bars are a matter for further debate. Although the definition is subject to legal conjecture the University is making the case that sales to staff from coffee bars are ‘take away’ sales and as such are zero rated for VAT purposes. This argument has yet to be accepted by Customs and Excise.

In order to maintain our case we must ask that members of staff remove their food purchases from coffee bars before consumption. Having consulted Customs and Excise, professional tax advisers, campus trade unions and other universities we believe the policy we are adopting is the fairest way of meeting the Revenue’s demands. We believe the action taken by Customs and Excise is unjustified and we are lobbying various parties in an attempt to reverse it.

Conspiracy theory

Eric Atwell
School of Computer Studies

Note that the Council report on Staffing and Research Strategy (http://www.leeds.ac.uk/ leeds/cl96-48.htm) says: “(v) ... those not to be included in the RAE ... should have their workload reallocated to focus on their teaching and administrative strengths.” BUT there is NOT a corresponding recom-mendation “...those to be included in the RAE ... should have their workload reallocated to focus on their research strengths...” In other words, is this a cunning plan to REDUCE our overall research output, by increasing the overall time devoted to teaching and admin?!

Cosmetic surgery

Andrew W. Wright
School of Healthcare Studies

Corporatism appears to be gaining a high profile within the higher education sector. A good corporate image as far as the University of Leeds is concerned is no bad thing. I value being recognised as a member of staff at the University of Leeds. I strive to promote the good standing of the University.

However, I am concerned about the concept of corporate being applied randomly at, say Department/School level. Surely the notion of a ‘School of … at the University of Leeds’, is a more than adequate corporate image?

Corporatism is potentially divisive. Setting departments/schools against each other, fragmenting the University community: a community which is surely founded upon a belief in the value of the University of Leeds, where no one or group of people feel the need to promote themselves differently. Surely such a cohesive and focused community has much more powerful marketing potential than say, an ad hoc department/school focused corporate approach could ever have.

I am also concerned at the use of ‘alternative’ logo and leaflet colours other than the highly distinctive claret and green, which we all know and love! If it is good enough for the Reporter, then it is good enough for me! Anything else must surely be confusing to University staff and the public alike, and consequently reflect badly upon the University.

Finally, it appears to me to be more than a luxury in these cash-strapped times, that time, effort and public finances can be taken up with cosmetic embellishments which are devoid of any usefulness, and unlikely to contribute to this University’s high quality teaching, learning, and research.

The views of the author are, of course, not necessarily the views of the School of Healthcare Studies.

Manifesto call

Helen Beaumont
Institute for Transport Studies

I am writing about the 4 June election notice for Council. I would have liked to vote, but found it impossible because I didn’t know who to vote for. The University is very large, with a large number of staff, it is therefore impossible to know the candidates and what they stand for, unless you happen to work with them. This will apply to the majority of staff most of the time.

I think it would therefore be useful if candidates could prepare a short paragraph on what they are standing for and why – in effect a short ‘manifesto’ which could be circulated with the election notice. Without some information on the candidates the election process is very undemocratic and I don’t see how it can work in the best interests of staff and the University.

The suggestion that candidates for election be invited to submit a short ‘manifesto’ would seem sensible and the intention would be to introduce such a procedure with effect from January of next year – The Registrar

Grammar lessons

Phil Ashworth
School of Geography

I noted with interest the Reporter’s article on the Forests of Leeds web site so had a quick look at it and was appalled by the standard of English! A few typos may be allowed but one tends to worry if these guys are really going to teach our children!!! Let’s hope no children use it! Here’s a page for you.....

Dicotyledons – a class of flowering plants, identifiable by “there” leaves having a network of veins.

Membrane – thin “flexiable” tissue in a plant or animal.

Ranger – a council employee “who’s” job is to educate and inform the public about the site at which they are stationed.

The web site was compiled by students – Ed.

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