Senate - Standing Orders

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 Regulation 17.

1. Chair

The Vice-Chancellor shall Chair meetings of Senate.  The Chairs of Senate’s committees are set out under the provisions of Regulation 17. 

2. 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.  Attendance at meetings of Senate and Senate Sub-Committees by persons other than those persons identified in the Terms of Reference (as set out in Regulation 17) is by invitation only.

3. Sub-Committees of Senate

Sub-Committees of Senate shall only have the power to act in relation to such specified matters as outlined within the relevant Terms of Reference set out under the provisions of Regulation 17.  Any changes to the powers of Sub-Committees require prior approval by both Senate and Council.   Reports from Sub-Committees shall form a standing item for all scheduled meetings of Senate.  

4. 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 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.  For members wishing to receive a hard-copy of the papers, these will be posted on the day of electronic circulation.  Late papers may be circulated under separate cover or tabled at the meeting under exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Chair.    

5. 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. 

6. Discussion

No fixed limits are set to 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 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 Sub-Committee that the discussion should be brought to a close.  The Chair may also call to order a member whom he or she considers has strayed from the matter under discussion.  Members are expected, in accordance with the University Dignity & Respect Framework, to address colleagues courteously and respectfully.    

7. Decision Making

7.1 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.

7.2 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 in paragraph 7.1 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.

8. 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.   

9. 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.

10. 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 under Regulation 17.  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.   

11. Extraordinary Meetings

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.

12. 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”. 

13. Chair’s Action

Between scheduled meetings of Senate the Chair shall have the authority to act on behalf of the Senate on any matter requiring a decision prior to the next scheduled meeting and where the business does not merit, in the reasonable view of the Chair, the convening of a special meeting.  Any action taken by the Chair will be reported to Senate at the next scheduled meeting and be subject to ratification by Senate.

14. 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.

May 2017