Reporter 438, 26 July 1999

Council news

University donors will have the right to determine how their endowments will be invested, Council agreed.

It was also noted that the University could disinvest from - or refuse to invest in - companies which repeatedly conducted their business in an unethical manner. However, proposals to apply a general ‘ethical investment policy’ to the University’s current portfolio were not adopted.

Council agreed that there should be a student member on the Investment Committee.

The introduction of a new student management computer system was approved.

The project is scheduled to begin in September 1999 with the first and second phases going live in January 2001 and early 2002, respectively. Departments will have ‘read-only’ access to the system from day one.

"This is one of the largest and most critical systems projects the University will undertake in the coming years," said Pro-Vice-Chancellor for communications and information technology, Lynne Brindley.

The £4.4m budget for the project will be spread over four years. Once the system is live it is expected to cost £500,000 to support and maintain each year.

The Group set up by Council to review the University's governance has made a number of recommendations which have been endorsed by the Court and the Council.

The roles and responsibilities of both bodies have been clarified, and the Council is, for the first time, formally recognised as the University's ruling body. It is also proposed that Council will be reduced from 54 to 34 members from August 2000.

Formal proposals to amend the University's Charter and Statutes will go forward to the Privy Council in due course.

General support has been expressed by the Court for a significant reduction in its size, as proposed by the Group on the Workings of the Court. However, the group has been asked to look again at some details of its proposal.

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The steering group considering plans to merge with Bretton Hall was authorised by Senate and Council to continue its deliberations. The group is addressing both the academic and financial arguments for such a merger.

Finance Director Berenice Smith told Council that an initial assessment by the University's financial advisers, Ernst and Young, suggested that merger should not be ruled out on financial grounds. Consultation with departments which may be affected will continue. A firm recommendation will be made on the merger to the first cycle of meetings in the autumn.

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