Council Matters – update from the May meeting 2019

This regular communication complements existing reporting required under governance and other communications on specific topics.

The main items discussed at Council on Monday 20 May included: 


Access  and Participation Plan (APP): 

Council approved the draft APP for submission to the Office for Students by the deadline of 24 May 2019. The APP sets out the University’s targets for widening access and closing gaps in attainment over the period 2020/21 to 2024/25, together with the measures proposed to achieve the targets. There had been widespread consultation within the collegiate University on the development of the two new major initiatives to recruit and support students from under-represented backgrounds. Following Council’s approval, the major initiatives were announced publicly on 21 May 2019.  Details of these initiatives are available here

Background: Access and participation plans set out how higher education providers will improve equality of opportunity for underrepresented groups to access, succeed in and progress from higher education.  The Office for students (OfS) monitors all access and participation plans to ensure that the providers honour the commitments they make to students in these plans.


Update on staff and graduate housing and planning: 

The University Strategy, approved by Congregation in Michaelmas term, put in place three important priorities that will affect the physical development of Oxford over the next decade: 

1.    By 2023, in partnership with the private sector, to have started the construction of 1,000 additional graduate rooms 
2.    By 2023, in partnership with the private sector, to have started the construction of at least 1,000 new subsidised homes for University and college staff 
3.    Expand the innovation districts in and around Oxford, including at Begbroke Science Park and Osney Mead.

Over the last six months we have made good progress on these priorities with important public enquiries in Cherwell District Council, the publication of a new draft city plan for Oxford, and detailed discussions with the private sector regarding a partnership to build these facilities. 

Pro-Vice-Chancellor David Prout will hold two lunchtime staff forums in 6th week to provide an update on progress and respond to any questions or concerns:

Tuesday 11 June, 12:30 – 13:30 
Academic Corridor, John Radcliffe Hospital
Please click to register to attend  
RSVP deadline: Noon on Monday 3 June
Wednesday 12 June, 13:00 – 14:00
Maths Institute, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Please click to register to attend
RSVP deadline: Noon on Monday 3 June


Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021:  

Council endorsed the Code of Practice for submission to the funding bodies relating to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The REF is the system which assesses the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

The Code of Practice, steered by REF Project Board, has now been consulted on via all-staff emails, through all Divisional Boards, GLAM Board, Conference of Colleges, Personnel Committee and Research and Innovation Committee. REF Project Board reviewed the consultation responses and advice from the Committees and Boards that informed the revised version of the Code of Practice to be submitted to the REF Funding Bodies.


Brexit update: 

It was noted that there is no Government announcement yet on the fee level for EU students starting in English universities in 2020/21, although Scotland has decided that EU students starting in Scottish universities in that year should pay Home level fees; and to the importance of ensuring continued access to EU research funding after Brexit, e.g. through associate status.

Background: Please note that information and guidance for EU members of staff and students is kept updated on the University’s Oxford and Brexit pages.  



Council agreed that the project should proceed to the next stage and noted that there had been a public exhibition of the emerging design at Worcester College on the previous Friday and Saturday.  Work to remove the asbestos was now nearly complete.  It was anticipated that a planning application would soon be made to demolish the main building, followed by an application for the new building in the autumn. 

Background: Information about the project is available at 


Parks College: 

Following Congregation’s approval, Parks College has now come into being as a Society of the University of Oxford, with Professor Lionel Tarassenko as its first President. The Parks College Programme Board will continue to be responsible for the delivery of the Society, and the initial Governing Body, as it is recruited, will take on the governance of the Society itself under the regulations.

Council will receive, at its meeting on 15 July 2019, a report from the Programme Board as to whether or not the Society will be able to provide a satisfactory student experience in the academic year 2020/21. If the Programme Board at that time decides that the student experience in the 2020/21 academic year would not be satisfactory, the admission of the first 50 graduate students will be postponed to the academic year 2021/22.

Background: Full details of the proposal are available on the University’s Parks College page. 


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