Code of practice for transparency in the conduct of committee business
The University’s Code of practice for transparency in the conduct of committee business is mandatory for key senior bodies of the University and sub-committees of these bodies which are involved in formal decision-making, ie Court, Council, Senate and the University Executive Board (UEB), and allsub-committees of Council and Senate.¹ For other committees across the University, chairs and secretaries are encouraged to draw on the principles set out in the Code in order to promote transparency within the institution, while recognising that these specific protocols apply to formal meetings only.
Executive Summary: key principles
- As a University for Public Good, the University is committed to transparency and openness in relation to its formal committee business, while being mindful of the need to protect the reputation and interests of the University and its staff and students.
- Redacted agenda sheets and minutes/executive summaries for Court, Council and Senate and their sub-committees, and for UEB will be made available on the University website within reasonable timeframes for the current and previous two years. ²
- Some University committee business (ie redacted items of business) will need to be made public, in line with regulatory requirements and the University’s Publication Scheme.
- Committee secretaries will keep a circulation list for their committee. Decisions on sharing committee agendas and papers internally beyond the list will be made on the basis of professional need/relevance, with advice from the paper author/sponsor and the committee chair/secretary.
- All items for formal committees will be categorised in terms of: open; confidential; commercially sensitive; legally privileged (or several of these labels as required), in order to inform decisions on wider sharing or publication. Technical decisions regarding release or exemption under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act will be handled separately by the Information Governance team if and when a FOI request is received. The reserved business category for agendas and minutes will only be used in exceptional circumstances for highly confidential and sensitive matters.
- Redaction of sensitive material from committee items should be undertaken as appropriate prior to publication and/or dissemination beyond the committee’s circulation list. Both a final pre-redacted version and any redacted versions should be maintained by the committee secretary for the official record.
- The production, circulation and publication/sharing of committee business must comply with Data Protection legislation and all related privacy and security requirements. Documents must be published/shared in their final, approved version, and in a non-editable format which meets the accessibility requirements for public sector bodies, following guidance provided by the Governance & Assurance Office. The committee secretary is responsible for the creation, management and archiving of the committee’s official record in line with guidance produced by Records Management.
¹ with the exception of the Academic Promotions Committee and the Special Cases Committee, given the sensitive nature of their business, relating to individuals.
²These baseline requirements will be rolled out in the course of 2022/2023.
In the case of UEB, a proportionate approach will be adopted given the frequency of board meetings and the fact that its agendas and minutes have not been published routinely prior to the introduction of this Code of Practice. Redacted agenda sheets and minutes/executive summaries will be published for meetings held from 1 October 2021 onwards, but not prior to this date.