Congregation Meeting, 31 May 2016

(1) Voting on legislative proposal: Statue XII (academic staff and the Visitatorial Board), Statute XI (University Discipline), Statute XIV (employment of academic and support staff by the University)

At the meeting, the amended legislative proposal was carried on a division: 82 votes in favour; 4 votes against.

Both of the recommendations relating to inconsistent provisions were adopted without a division.

The full text of the legislative proposal showing the amendments made was published in a supplement to the 26 May Gazette.

(For explanatory note and form of legislative proposal see Supplement (2) to Gazette No 5127 published with the 24 March 2016 Gazette. For proposed amendments to this legislative proposal see Supplement (1) to Gazette No 5130 published with the 28 April 2016 Gazette; for details of the meeting, see 26 May Gazette.)

(2) Resolution regarding the University's implementation of the Prevent legislation

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At the meeting, the resolution was approved without a division.

The following text was received from the signatories to the resolution, who were listed in the Gazette of 26 May 2016.

'Resolution regarding the University's implementation of the PREVENT Legislation


  1. Compliance with the highest standards of freedom of expression and academic freedom are central to the University's mission, recognised in the University's Strategic Plan 2013–2018 (1) and its current Donor Charter. While day-to-day governance is delegated to the administration, Congregation, the sovereign parliament of the University, has the ultimate responsibility to ensure the protection of freedoms for University staff and its broader community. Statute XII, which guarantees academic freedom, is underpinned by three principles:
    1. to ensure that academic staff have freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges;
    2. to enable the University to provide education, promote learning, and engage in research efficiently and economically; and
    3. to apply the principles of justice and fairness.
  2. The University's PREVENT Steering Group is currently considering how the University should develop its regulations and procedures on such important matters as the use of IT, the holding of meetings and events, and staff and student welfare. This consideration is distinct from that in the Conferences of Colleges, which has discussed and developed draft policy on how individual colleges are to respond to the PREVENT legislation.
  3. The development of the University's regulation, policies, and procedures in response to the PREVENT legislation raises profound challenges for academic freedom as enshrined in Statute XII, as well as the University's compliance with pre-existing legal obligations: the Education Act of 1986 and the Education Reform Act of 1988, the Human Rights Act of 1998, and the Equality Act of 2010.
  4. The Conference of Colleges brought several versions of its draft on the new PREVENT legislation for due diligence to the Governing Bodies of colleges, with discussion, development, and improvements emerging. Congregation has not yet had the opportunity to provide similar and equally necessary due diligence on the draft policies and regulations emerging from the University PREVENT Steering Committee and its work within the University.

Therefore, Congregation resolves:

  1. That any changes to regulations and procedures associated with PREVENT legislation be consistent with the spirit and substance of the templates as agreed by the Conference of Colleges, with the University's Statutes and Regulations, as well as consistent with UK legislation regarding the rights and freedoms of individuals, namely the Human Rights Act of 1998, the Education Acts of 1986 and 1988, and the Equalities Act of 2010;
  2. That the PREVENT Steering Group present the University's proposed draft policies and procedures for the consideration of Congregation of 6th week of Trinity term 2016, and any proposed draft training by 2nd week of MT 2016;
  3. That the University's PREVENT Steering Group be afforced with a minimum of five elected members of Congregation by 0th week MT 2016.'

Council deemed the resolution to be acceptable to it. The resolution was formally moved and seconded in Congregation, following which there was a speech on behalf of Council and the resolution was put to Congregation.

At its meeting on 16 May, Council gave careful consideration to the resolution and, having noted the close working relationship that exists between the University and the Conference of Colleges working groups, was supportive of it and deemed it to be acceptable. However, Council wished to add the following comments:

'First, Council is concerned to ensure that the consultation on any changes to existing policies and procedures enables all interested members of the University to respond to it. A formal meeting of Congregation on 31 May at which the resolution is debated may not be the best route to achieve that goal and Council, through the Registrar, wishes to explore with the signatories to the resolution whether some other consultation process (permitting both written responses and open discussion) would be a preferable route to our shared goal. Second, the regulations applicable to the election of members of committees have the consequence that, without the suspension of regulations, it is not possible to achieve the desired goal of afforcing the membership of the Prevent Steering Group by 0th week of Michaelmas term. It therefore wishes to add members of Congregation to the Steering Group with immediate effect while consideration is given to the process whereby members of Congregation may be elected to the group prior to the completion of its work at the end of the calendar year.'

Since the Council meeting on 16 May, following consultation with the signatories to the resolution, the proposed draft changes to University regulations and procedures associated with the Prevent legislation have been published on the University’s Prevent website. Members of Congregation are invited to comment on the proposed changes by Friday, 17 June, so that any comments can be taken into account by Council when it is asked to approve the changes later this term. 

As announced at the Congregation meeting on 31 May, notice of an election to afforce the Prevent steering group with 5 additional members of Congregation will be published in the Gazette on 9 June.

It is intended that a transcript1 of the meeting will be published in the Gazette of 9 June and online. 

1 - The transcript may be edited for legal reasons.


The above transcript was published as a supplement to the Gazette of 8 June.

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