The General Council

Business news and reports. Prepared and supplied for the General Council by Robert Marshall, Clerk to the General Council.

Papers for consideration at the Half-Yearly Meeting of the General Council, 1 February 2014:

1. Minutes of the Meeting of the General Council held on 22 June 2013 (see below).

2. Paper A. Report by the Principal on the work and activities of the University.

Minutes of the General Council Half-Yearly Meeting: 22 June 2013

Held on Saturday, 22 June 2013 in the Animal Health & Technology Complex (AHTC) Lecture Theatre of the University’s Garscube Campus in Bearsden.

Introduction and welcome

The Chancellor, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, took the chair and welcomed those present to the meeting. He thanked Ms Mary Ryan, Garscube Facilitator, for her excellent presentation about the Garscube campus developments and reminded the audience there would be: informal presentations
by Professor Anna Dominiczak, Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences, and Professor Alan Jardine, Head of Undergraduate Medicine in the School of Medicine; optional tours of the campus.

Minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2013

The minutes of the meeting held on Saturday 19 January 2013, printed in Avenue issue 54 (June 2013), were approved. There were no matters arising.

Report of the Convener of the Business Committee, Mr George Tait

The Convener reported that since the last General Council meeting, the Business Committee has remained focused on modernising recommendations, relating to role and purpose.

Modernisation and communication

In February, there was an informal reception with senior academic University staff, to raise the General Council profile with academic staff.
The April meeting was a major session about identifying the best way forward. Themes emerging were: a) exploiting the relationship with Court and Senate; b) encouraging feedback from academic staff; c) improving coordination with the Development & Alumni Office; and d) improving the General Council presence on the University website.

Business Committee matters

Standing orders: immediately required changes were approved at a previous General Council Meeting.
Ancient Universities meeting: In March, there was a regular meeting of the Clerks, Secretaries and Conveners of the Business Committees of the four ancient Scottish Universities: Aberdeen; Edinburgh; Glasgow and St Andrews. Matters discussed included: relationships with General Council Assessors; online voting technology; the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill; and the draft of The Scottish Code of Governance for Higher Education.

Business Committee meetings

At the March Meeting, Mrs Ann Allen (Director of Estates & Buildings) briefed the Committee on the Campus Development plans. The April Meeting was devoted to the subject of Modernisation. The Convener thanked the Clerk to the General Council for his help.

Questions and answers

In response to a question about the urgency about the governance situation, the Principal stated that the evolution of the Post-16 Education Bill had gone well; the clauses of concern to universities have been modified. The Chancellor thanked the Convener for his report.

Principal’s Report, given by the Principal & Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anton Muscatelli

The Chancellor invited the Principal to address the meeting. The Principal stated that the University had had a very good year, with many initiatives coming to fruition.

Teaching funding

Glasgow’s teaching funding has gone up by £1m (1.2%).

The University has been awarded additional funded postgraduate taught places in areas where the SFC would like to encourage skills development. Of all the Scottish universities, Glasgow received the largest allocation – about £1m, spread across the four colleges.

In addition, the University has been given 200 places for each of the next four years to widen access, directed at students who come from the 40% most deprived areas in Scotland. This is the biggest allocation of any of the pre-1992 universities.

Research funding

Research funding has increased significantly, by 7.3%. The University also received £2.5m for the Global Excellence Initiative, aimed at four-star world-leading research.


The University has enjoyed a very good year for research, showing the effects of restructuring. Multi-million pound grants were awarded across different institutes and schools, including collaboration among different disciplines.

A major achievement this year was the winning of two Innovation Centres, in which the University is leading on behalf of Scotland: Stratified Medicine (£8m); Sensor & Imaging Systems (£10m).

Multidisciplinarity has had an impact in other non-science colleges: Centre for Robert Burns Studies; Centre for Textile Conservation & Technical Art History; Centre for Copyright & New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe); GRAMNet to build on the University’s expertise in migration and refugees; Public Policy Forum, to bring together discussions around the independence debate.

Research and impact

The University is preparing the complex information needed for the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Each University unit of assessment has to demonstrate how the research has had impact. Examples include:

  • The College of Arts has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Glasgow Life (Museums & Sports) to exchange knowledge between the University and museum galleries, libraries, concert halls and sporting venues of the City of Glasgow.
  • Space Glasgow Research Cluster, working with Clyde Space to tackle junk in space;
  • Spinout company Clyde Biosciences is expected to save the pharmaceutical industry millions of pounds through more effective testing for cardiotoxicity, thus speeding up the process of finding effective medications for patients;
  • Kelvin Nanotechnology supports the implementation of the University’s research in nanofabrication. The company has worked with 200 companies worldwide and is anticipated to generate £1m turnover this year.
  • Collaborative research programme to investigate the legacy of the Commonwealth Games on the East End of Glasgow.
  • Doing the Maths to Find a Match: helping patients who require a kidney transplant to find an appropriate match.

Knowledge exchange

The University is committed to knowledge exchange (KE). KE is embedded in the job descriptions of all academic staff and they are required to engage in KE with impact.

The University continues its engagement with SMEs (small and medium size enterprises) including;

  • Leading on a number of flagship SME engagement projects (Dialogues, the Innovation Network; Encompass, and one of the founding partners of Interface);
  • Early adopter of the innovation voucher scheme (completed over 100 innovation vouchers with Scottish SMEs in the last two years);
  • Development and pioneering of Easy Access IP, the sharing of IP (of no immediate commercial value) with business and organisations; eight licenses completed in the last 12 months, six with SMEs;
  • Committed to creating ten new technologies through Easy Access IP scheme;
  • Managing a portfolio of 2–3 targeted spinout companies per year where value can be quickly extracted – a small number but the University is committed to avoiding creation of companies that go nowhere;
  • University will continue to grow its KE activity by 7.5% per annum.

Research income

The University can be proud of its gross research income: in 2011–12, it was £124m; in 2013, it will be £211m, the highest total ever.

International recruitment

International recruitment is an area of growth. In postgraduate taught international students, Glasgow has made real progress, overtaking universities such as Imperial and Oxford; and drawing close to Edinburgh.

The city of Glasgow is not as well known as Edinburgh, so the University is working with the Glasgow Marketing Bureau to improve awareness and perception.

Transnational education (TNE)

TNE is the delivery internationally of Glasgow degrees outside Glasgow. There are collaborations with the Singapore Institute of Technology; the University of Electronics Science and Technology (Chengdu); Nankai University; Sun Yat-sen University; Majan University College in Oman.

Other international collaborations include: approved academic collaborations across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malaysia, Colombia, Libya and many more; collaboration is a key aim of the Glasgow 2020: a Global Vision.

Campus plan

The Principal referred to the book Building Knowledge, an architectural history of the University, written by Nick Haynes. It tells the story of the University’s ambition to be the best and the collaborative nature of the development of Gilmorehill, through widespread community and donor support.

The existing campus comprises about 60 acres. The purchase of 14 acres on the Western Infirmary site is a huge opportunity to reimagine the existing campus.

The Estates Committee of Court has approved this vision for the campus: to create a campus that respects its heritage while being fit for today and the future, innovative, cohesive, courageous in design and reflective of the University ambition in research and teaching and learning, inspiring current and future generations.

The campus will: support learning with distinct and diverse environments encouraging depth and breadth of learning; support research through collaboration and connections, create community and look outward. The campus ambition is to: enhance the campus setting; ensure a sustainable future; secure the University’s built heritage; promote a sense of openness; create flexible spaces that are able to respond to changing needs; and provide clear connectivity within and to the University.

The University development campaign

The University will be launching a campaign to support this development. Gilmorehill was originally built largely through fundraising from its alumni and supporters. The campaign was ambitious, courageous, inclusive and meticulous; and persistent, continuing over 20 years.

The Principal encouraged everyone in the General Council to contribute to the new campaign for the University’s campus vision, just as the General Council contributed to the Gilmorehill campaign in the 19th century. This is the chance to help the University create a campus that is fit for the next several hundred years.

Questions and comments

The Chancellor thought the talk was very exciting and was particularly struck by the integration of the various subject areas across the University

  • In answer to a question about the impact of Scottish independence on the University’s reputation, the Principal noted the changes over the last few hundred years and how adaptable the University has proved to be. The Scottish Parliament is completely sovereign in terms of teaching funding and some research funding. An area for development would be the University’s funding from UK-funded research councils and foundations. The Scottish Government will want to negotiate the maintenance of a UK research area. The University has to remain completely neutral but will adapt to whatever the outcome is.
  • When asked about the impact on teaching 2011–12 staff costs reduction, the Principal explained that arose from the University’s voluntary severance scheme, designed to help create a strategic 2020 investment reserve. In the current and following year, staff costs will increase by around £9–10m.
  • Asked about the vision for income generation from international students, the Principal replied the rise is expected to continue for another 20 years. The issues for the University are: competition from other institutions; and from China for students from Africa. The University is becoming like its US counterparts, where the international student market is enormously important. Glasgow has improved market share by creating relevant and flexible courses (more transnational education, more partnerships, more dual degrees).

The Chancellor thanked the Principal for an excellent talk, showing where the University is going. He also thanked the Court and the staff who are delivering major change.


There were no matters of AOCB. The Chancellor reminded the meeting that questions could be sent to the Clerk by email.

Closure of the meeting

Finally, the Chancellor thanked the Convener, the Business Committee and the Clerk for their work; the Garscube campus for hosting the occasion; and all those present for their attendance.

He informed the meeting that the next meeting would be held on Saturday, 1 February 2014 at 11am in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre in the University.