Standing Orders of Senate and its Committees

Senate business shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the University Charter and Statutes (Sections 18 and 19). The business of the committees of Senate shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of their Terms of Reference.

1. Chair

The Vice-Chancellor shall Chair meetings of Senate. The Chairs of Senate’s committees are set out under the provisions of their Terms of Reference.

2. Election/Nomination of Members (Subject to decision on appointment method by Senate)

The membership of Senate is set out in section 18 of the University Statutes. Senate will elect members from the academic electorate to form no more than 40% of the total membership. To ensure fair representation, each Faculty is apportioned a number of elected places on Senate proportionate to the numbers of academic staff within each Faculty. The process of election for elected members is thus:

Faculty representatives serve terms of three years from the 1st September following appointment. The Legal, Governance and Compliance Team will inform members when their term is due to end. The Legal, Governance and Compliance Team will identify the number of spaces due to become vacant and begin the process of election.

The Legal, Governance and Compliance Team will email all academic staff informing them of the vacancies available within their Faculties and will open the call for nominations. In order to be nominated for candidacy, academic staff must submit a nomination form signed by a proposer and seconder, who must be members of the electoral roll in their faculty, accompanied by a supporting statement. 

Once nominations close, and where the number of candidates exceeds the available vacancies, a ballot will be opened and academic staff invited to vote for their preferred candidate. Ballots are conducted by Single Transferable Vote. Once the ballots close, votes are counted and the results are announced.  All appointments will be approved by Senate.

If a vacancy becomes available during the course of a year, a bi-election may be held.

3. Attendance

Attendance is an obligation on members and will be recorded and monitored.  Action may be taken by the Chair in cases where attendance is unsatisfactory.  Apologies shall be sent to the Secretary in advance of the meeting when attendance is not possible. Members cannot send a deputy to act in their place unless under exceptional circumstances and by approval of the Chair. Any deputies attending Senate will be classed as attendees only and are not entitled to vote. Attendance at meetings of Senate and Senate Committees by persons other than those persons identified in the Terms of Reference is by approval of the Chair.

4. Committees of Senate

Committees of Senate shall only have the power to act in relation to such specified matters as outlined within the relevant Terms of Reference.  Any changes to the powers of Committees require prior approval by both Senate and Council.  Reports from Committees of Senate shall form a standing item for all scheduled meetings of Senate.  

5. Items for Senate

If a member of the University wishes to bring an item to the Senate and such an item would not normally be received via a committee of Senate in the first instance, they must be sponsored by a member of Senate who will present the paper on their behalf. Items for the agenda should be made known to the Secretary at least two weeks before the meeting as all items for the agenda must be approved by the Chair in advance. All items for the agenda should be written reports, submitted electronically to the Secretary, unless agreed otherwise by the Chair. Items which request approval from Senate will normally need to be approved and recommended by a committee of Senate or the University Executive Committee in the first instance. Persons who require an item to be received by a committee should contact the secretary to that committee for guidance on their agenda processes.

6. Vice-Chancellor’s Questions

The Vice-Chancellor’s Questions segment is an opportunity for senators to ask questions to Senate on topics which would not usually merit a formal item on the agenda. Senators can ask any question provided it fits within the remit of Senate business. Individual Senators are entitled to submit one question per meeting of Senate. If such numbers of questions are submitted that would disrupt the formal business of Senate, or if questions are not deemed to fit within the remit of Senate, the Chair and Secretary reserve the right to refuse questions or to defer them to a future meeting.

Questions must be submitted to the Secretary. A call for questions will be sent by email, giving a deadline of at least two weeks for the submission of questions, which must be received by the deadline. The Vice-Chancellor’s Office will provide a written or verbal response to the question at the meeting. The member of Senate who submitted the question can respond to the Vice-Chancellor’s response at the meeting.

7. Papers

Authors of papers must write appropriately and succinctly for the audience and all papers must be accompanied by a cover sheet.  The rationale and decision sought from Senate must be articulated clearly. 

The Secretary shall arrange for the agenda and supporting papers to be circulated electronically to all members and other designated recipients normally seven calendar days before each scheduled meeting.  In exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the Chair, late papers may be circulated separately or tabled at the meeting. The Secretary must be informed in advance of the meeting and as soon as possible of any late papers.    

8. Presentation of Papers

Responsibility for presenting business to the Senate lies primarily with the relevant Committee Chair and the author/sponsor of the paper may be invited to provide a short introduction.  To ensure that agenda items are dealt with efficiently, members should wherever possible seek any factual information they may need prior to the meeting.

9. Discussion

Normally, limits are not set to restrict either the length of discussions or the number of times a member may speak but members are urged to bear in mind the need for brevity and to gauge the number and duration of their interventions accordingly.  The Chair is responsible for ensuring that all members have adequate opportunity to be heard but may remind members for the brevity or indicate to Senate or a Committee that the discussion should be brought to a close.  The Chair may also call to order a member whom they consider has strayed from the matter under discussion. 

10. Conduct

Members are expected, in accordance with the University Dignity & Respect Framework, to address colleagues courteously and respectfully. If any member interrupts another while the latter is addressing the meeting, or uses abusive or profane language, or causes disturbance, and refuses to comply when called to order by the Chair, they may then be required by the Chair to withdraw from the meeting. 

11. Decision Making

Senate decisions are normally made on the basis of consensus amongst members but may be made through a formal vote where requested or if the Chair determines that consensus cannot be reached. Where a decision is needed, the Committee may decide to approve (with or without amendment), refer an item back, transfer the item to another more appropriate committee or reject the proposal. A proposal will be approved where more than one half of full members vote in favour of the proposal. Voting on a motion at the meeting shall be carried out by a show of hands of all full members and the Chair shall have the casting vote.

During virtual meetings, decisions will be made via a show of hands using the raise hand and chat functions in the meeting software. For the proposal to be approved, the number of responses should exceed the quorum (23).

In exceptional circumstances, normally where there is a potentially controversial item and Senate may wish to test the level of controversy before a formal vote is taken on an issue, a member of Senate may request a motion be considered and voted upon. A motion is carried where more than one half of full members vote in favour of the motion. There are three types of motion:

  • That the question [to be specified] be put to a vote – if this motion is carried, Senate will then vote on the question itself to determine whether approval should be granted on the given issue;
  • That the question [to be specified] not be put to a vote – if this motion is carried, Senate will not then vote on the question itself and the decision will be subject to the provisions set out above.
  • That Senate move on to the next item of business – if this motion is carried there will be no further discussion of that item at that meeting of Senate.

If an urgent decision of Senate is required between meetings, a decision can be taken either by correspondence or by Chair’s action.

(i) By correspondence – decisions can be taken by correspondence where, in the reasonable view of the Chair and the Secretary, (a) it is in the interests of the University that a decision is made prior to the next scheduled meeting of Senate and (b) the nature of the business does not merit the convening of an extraordinary meeting to consider it. Decisions can be taken by correspondence providing that all Senate members have been consulted and a minimum of 23 have responded. The 23 members must include the Chair and the Secretary. The Secretary is responsible for the conduct of any decisions taken by correspondence, including keeping accurate records and reporting the decision to the subsequent meeting of Senate.

(ii) Chair’s action - the Chair shall have delegated authority to act on behalf of the Senate on any matter where, in the reasonable view of the Chair and the Secretary, (a) it is in the interests of the University that a decision is made prior to the next scheduled meeting of Senate and (b) the nature of the business does not merit the convening of an extraordinary meeting of Senate to consider it and (c) either the matter is sufficiently routine, or exceptionally there is insufficient time for a decision to be taken by correspondence. The Secretary is responsible for the conduct of any decisions taken by Chair’s action, including keeping accurate records and reporting the decision to the subsequent meeting of Senate.

12. Reserved Items

The Senate agenda is divided into Open and Closed (Reserved Areas) sections. Reserved items relate to individual staff or students as set out under the provisions of Section 34 of the Statutes.

13. Confidentiality

Senate papers are not confidential unless so marked. Senators have a responsibility to disseminate and communicate Senate business (before and after the meeting as appropriate) to their constituents (other than confidential business). The contents of confidential papers circulated to members of Senate must in no circumstances be divulged or discussed with any person who is not a member of Senate without the prior consent of the Chair or Secretary to Senate. It is the responsibility of each member to store and dispose securely of committee papers and other documents relating to committee business.

14. Quorum

For the transaction of business of Senate not less than 23 members must be present. The quorum for the Sub-Committees of Senate is set out in their Terms of Reference. In the absence of a quorum, no business shall be transacted other than items for report. Any items for decision will be deferred to another meeting.

15. Meetings and Extraordinary Meetings

Meetings may be held virtually or in person. There will usually be four meetings of Senate per year on agreed dates, normally circulated prior to the start of the academic year. Any other meeting of Senate will be an extraordinary meeting. An extraordinary meeting shall be convened with the prior agreement of the Chair and members shall normally be given at least seven calendar days’ notice of the meeting and the business to be transacted, papers will be circulated at the earliest convenience.

16. Minutes

The minutes shall be taken by the Secretary to Senate (or nominee) and shall be openly accessible with the exception of the reserved minutes and items designated as “restricted business” or “commercial in confidence”.

17. Communication to members of University staff

The Senate agenda will be shared with all members of staff of the University via the intranet before the meeting. Once the minutes have been approved by the Chair the papers and unrestricted minutes will be uploaded to the University website for University members to view.

Following the meeting, a brief summary of items of Senate business which may be of interest to staff will be shared via the intranet.

18. Standing Orders

The ruling of the Chair on the interpretation of these Standing Orders is final. The Chair shall seek the advice of the Secretary to Senate on any question of interpretation of these Standing Orders. Proposed amendments to Senate Standing Orders should be submitted to the Secretary for consideration by the Senate.

October 2021