Council Matters - update from the July meeting 2019

Taking into account feedback from the Council effectiveness review, the University now updates all staff through the Staff Gateway after the Notes of Decisions are available following a meeting of Council

This communication complements the information available about the meetings of the University’s executive governing body on the Council website behind SSO.

The information posted on the Council website includes the meeting agendas, papers, decision notes and minutes (minutes are posted after they have been approved at the following meeting).

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Members of Council


Items discussed at Council on 15 July included: 

Student Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy

Council approved the Student Wellbeing and Mental Health Strategy proposed by the Student Welfare and Support Services following a recent consultation process with our students. The five core areas of the focus for the Strategy are learning, life skills, community, inclusion and support.  

The Strategy will prepare us for the new sector-wide University Mental Health Charter scheduled for launch late 2020. It presents a vision for the collegiate University, core areas of focus and the aims and objectives listed below:

  • promote the wellbeing and good mental health of all students in all aspects of University life at all stages
  • ensure that consideration of student wellbeing and mental health is embedded in institutional decision making
  • base welfare and wellbeing policies on the best evidence available
  • pursue a better understanding of the needs of a diverse student body
  • monitor and report progress.

Council noted the Strategy implementation plan and agreed that any activity currently unfunded in the plan will not be able to proceed until the funding can be secured.

Report of review of the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE)

Council received the review report and noted that it will be subject to response by the department and scrutiny by Education Committee in accordance with established procedures. In the meantime, Council approved two time-sensitive recommendations in the report as listed below.

Following a periodic departmental review of OUDCE in February 2019, the Review Committee has reported that was extremely impressed by the clear and consistent belief in the mission of the OUDCE expressed by the staff and students it met, the ability to respond to new opportunities quickly, a united commitment to adult education and how OUDCE meets the needs of its diverse student group through excellent teaching and support. However, there were questions raised regarding the structure and governance of continuing education that need to be considered further.

The two recommendations approved at Council are that:

  • Council should commission a review into the University’s strategy for OUDCE, the breadth of its remit and its governance arrangements
  • The review should include the wider question of the University’s provision for part-time graduate research students. 

Council also approved the proposed terms of reference for the review and membership of the panel and authorised the Vice-Chancellor, in consultation with the PVC Education, to appoint the chair and members of the review panel on behalf of Council.

Endowment Challenge Fund

Council considered the report to reallocate funds which remain uncommitted in the ECF (Endowment Challenge Fund) scheme including the proposal to establish a new matched funding scheme to endow graduate scholarships.

Priority 2 of the Strategic Plan states Aim to create by 2023 an additional 300 graduate scholarships.

Council approved the main proposal of the scheme, subject to further work on specific aspects of implementation.

Strategic Research Funding

The University’s Strategic Plan 2018-23 includes the priority to increase capacity to make strategic investment in research (Priority 10). Council approved the main proposal to establish the Strategic Research Fund – subject to work on specific aspects.

The focus of the fund would be on major transformative investments, which would span disciplines and help enable the University to remain globally competitive, attractive to students and staff and in a position to address major research challenges.

The proposed sources of funding include returns from innovation or research commercialisation and an element of the Strategic Capital Fund.


Please email any questions or comments about the subjects covered by this update to