Council Matters: update from the meeting on 10 February

This communication complements the information available about the meetings of the University’s executive governing body on the Council website. The information available includes the meeting agendas, papers, decision notes and minutes (please note that the minutes of Council meetings are posted after approval at the following meeting). 

Please visit the Council website for further details.

Items discussed at Council on Monday 10 February included: 

Oxford Living Wage for University staff

Council approved the introduction of the Oxford Living Wage for University staff.

This means that all University staff will earn a minimum of £10.21 an hour from 1 August 2020. The Oxford Living Wage was introduced by Oxford City Council at 95% of the London Living Wage, which is set by the Real Living Wage Foundation.


Full details are available in a news item on the Staff Gateway.

Gender pay gap report

Subject to two drafting points Council approved the narrative report for the University’s website.

As an employer with more than 250 employees, the University is required to report to the government its gender pay gap based on the ‘snapshot date’ of 31 March 2019 by 30 March 2020. This data must also be published on the government and the University’s website. A narrative report may also be included providing further details.


Our report shows that that we are making progress in closing the  gap between men’s and women’s average earning across the University. However the median gap remains at 13.7% (expressed relative to men’s earnings) a matter which we are committed to addressing.

Extension to the University’s 100-year £750m bond

Council noted the summary of the completed bond tap.

Following the Council decision of 2 December, the University has successfully extended its existing £750m, 100-year bond for a further £250m. This additional funding is to assist the University’s long-term financial planning. The University (financially a triple A-rated institution) raised the initial £750m from its first ever bond in 2017. Strong investor demand allowed the University to borrow at a low interest rate.


Bonds are loans to organisations, and a tap is the procedure that allows an organisation to sell bonds to investors.

Instead of going to a bank for a loan, an organisation can raise money from investors by selling bonds. In exchange for the capital the organisation then pays the investors interest at predetermined intervals. The organisation returns the principal loan amount on the maturity date – in this case in the year 2117 –  which then ends the loan.

Update on Oxford’s planning for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Council noted and commented on the update of the Code of Practice and the update on preparations for the REF submission.

The REF is an assessment of research quality undertaken by Research England on behalf of the REF funding bodies. It is a UK-wide assessment of research in all higher education institutions and provides an objective peer-reviewed score of the quality and impact of research at subject level in each university. Our performance in the assessment impacts our research funding from the government.

The University’s Code of Practice (CoP) was approved by the REF Funding Bodies last November and is published on the University’s REF 2021 website.

Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ)

Council approved (with additions) the University's response in support of the (ZEZ) Red Zone consultation.

This relates to the ZEZ Red Zone jointly proposed for implementation in December 2020 by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council in the city centre. This is to cut the harmful pollutants and carbon emissions created by road transport from the centre. The councils propose to introduce a £10 per day levy for any non-zero emission vehicle driving within the Red Zone between 7am and 7pm. Part exemptions are proposed for residents, businesses registered within the zone and blue badge holders for a transition period until 2024.

The University has prepared a supportive response, but on the basis that the larger Green Zone is also subsequently implemented.  The proposals should deliver positive outcomes for the University in terms of a healthier environment for staff and students.


FAQs about the Red Zone are available on Oxford City Council's website