MSC Birmingham University Guild of Students - 21st January 2006

The meeting started at 11:22am with Marilyn Shanks in the chair.


Present: Marilyn Shanks (Chair), Simon Felton General Secretary), Andre Oboler (Minutes Secretary), Dries Neirynck (Project Officer), Tim Roll-Pickering (Treasurer), Stephen Abbots (Conference Secretary), Ismail Malik (Project Officer, with the meeting from noon)

Apologies: Harpreet Singh (Ordinary Executive Officer), Duncan Connors (Communications Officer), Katie Harper (Project Officer), Lade Robinson (Equal Opportunities Officer).

2)Minutes of previous meetings

NPC Management Subcommittee meeting, 3/9/05, Aston

These had been approved at the last OGM. Copies were circulated for information and the minutes accepted as accurate on a nod.

Under matters arising, Simon informed the MSC that he had a request for another consultation from the QAA on the interim review process. Simon passed the request around for information.

3) Business since the previous meeting

Details of the remote votes were passed around. Andre pointed out that his vote was not intended as an abstention and asked that this be referred to the CSC.

The list of action items was tabled and the chair took the MSC through each item requesting or providing an update. The update was as follows:

Financial advice: Tim had asked but got information of limited or no use from the people he spoke with. He will now ask the auditor if he can recommend someone to consult with.

Dried queried why we were looking at investing the
money rather than looking at spending it, for example on staff. Tim replied that investing it was an interim measure and he felt that a member of staff would not be viable with the current income streams, but might become viable after a period of investment.

Dries asked if we were investigating the staff option. Tim replied that the MSC would need to discuss the role of a staff member. The chair scheduled this discussion for later in the meeting under AOB.

Guidelines for recording decisions relating to officers expenses for conference: It was reported that this was done and had been sent to the list by Tim.

Change to Gen Sec contract regarding holidays: The
contract has been sent to the CSC and FSC along with the suggested changes. The subcommittees were not sure if a staff member was possible. Tim suggested further information from the MSC might be required to reach a decision.
ACTION: Tim to send summary of discussion to MSC list along with contract.

Dries suggested a system should be created that
encourages the Gen Sec to take their holidays. Simon suggested that it might be worth stating that the holidays should not adversely affect the running of the committee.
Action: Simon is to refer this to the FSC.

Paragraph on accessibility: neither Lade nor Harpreet were present to report on this the item was assumed to be ongoing.
ACTION: Lade and Harpreet to discuss writing a standard paragraph notifying people about making the meetings accessible (carried over from last MSC meeting).

Equal opportunities handover: Lade was not present. The MSC felt the action item should be left to Lades discretion. The MSC had no objection to dropping this item if Lade felt it was no longer needed.

Project officers to look at Katies proposal: Dries
said it was no longer relevant as the proposals were now approved, with one exception.

Northern Ireland: Tim stated that he had spoken to
Queens Student Unions deputy president, the main
problem is that the deputy general manager had put a block on the check going out as the Sabbatical team had not approved it. Tim said he found the Deputy General Manager unhelpful. Their position was that their officers that year had not agreed to it, so they felt they were not liable.
ACTION: General Secretary to build up relations with them
DECISION: not to pursue the debt

Simon reported that he has had discussions with
Queens. In addition, there are problems between NUS and NUS-USI, this may have an impact on their other affiliations such as NPC.

Draft declaration: Jim was not present, there was no further information. It was assumed this item was on going.

ACTION: Jim to draft a declaration and send to MSC who will then take a decision and pass to OGM. (Item carried forward from last MSC meeting).

ACTION: Marilyn to contact Jim and ask him to check on the bills progress.

Archive: Simon reported that the material for the
archive had been collated and Jim was going to deposit them. He was not sure if this has been done yet.
ACTION: Simon to follow up on progress

Improving the journal: Martin and Duncan will be
meeting shortly. This item is on going. Duncan will probably be able to report at the next OGM.
ACTION: Duncan and Martin to discuss the journal and how to do better (carried forward from last MSC meeting)

NUS training: Simon reported that he has had a number of meetings with NUS. There are also more scheduled. Simon expressed concern that NUS shouldnt swallow NPC up. Dries said it was important NPC remained independent. The Chair moved that further discussion relating to NPC-NUS relations take place later in the meeting under AOB.

Training manual: Draft available if people want to make suggestions. Dries stated that Tim Browns position seems to have changed so that the document is now owned by NPC. Marilyn suggested this might not be the case.
After discussion it was agreed to contact Tim and
retain the action point in the mean time.

Poster: Differed to e-mail discussion
Action: MSC members to discuss on e-mail.

Andre suggestion getting suggestions form the general NPC list. (Agreed)
Action: Simon to initiation e-mail discussion

CD: on going
Action: Harpreet and Tim to work out costing (carried forward from last MSC meeting)

Market failure: The research has been commissioned. An invoice has been received from Quad Research and passed onto Prospects who are funding it. Quad have agreed to proceed with the money from prospects, but if additional funding is received they will increase the depth and breath of the research.

EuroDoc 2007: Deadline of Jan 12th had been extended until March. Simon said a wider discussion is needed, particularly given the change to funding. The item is ongoing and further discussion to take place later in
the meeting under AOB.
Action: Harpreet and Tim are to produce a report on the financial implications (carried forward from last MSC meeting)

How to be a postgrad document: Simon is looking at
sources of material with a view to making fliers etc. It was suggested that out document would need a lot more content than the NUS black book which was top heavy with advertisements. On going (for further discussion at a later date).

Investment: ongoing.

Equality: It was noted that we didnt responded, but we should use what would have been a response for ongoing documents.

Conference: This is on the agenda as item 10 and
discussion is differed till then.

Website: Simon said he was doing bits and pieces as we wait for the new software. The MSC were asked for ideas for content.
Action: MSC to send Simon ideas for the website.
Action: when new web content comes on line Simon to e-mail postgrad list

Best practice frame work: Simon is working on a
database of practice related to the wider guidelines.
Discussion took place at the workshops during the last OGM. Simon suggested an enhancement approach was needed.

Female EuroDoc delegate: Katerina from University of Sussex elected. Erich reported that she will probably be at the next OGM.

Confirmation of remote votes: done.

3)Chair persons report

There has been a lot of general communications. There have also been 4 complaints, these were responded to using three private e-mails and 1 public e-mail.
Chair persons rulings: There havent been any since the last meeting.

4)General Secretarys report

We have some new affiliates, though we have also lost some and are working to get them back. Thank you to Duncan and dries for work at UCL. Leaflets seen at Cardiff can give us ideas we could borrow. There has been movement on the International student festival that requires some discussion (discussion deferred to AOB). Guidelines need updating, notable complains and
appeals as well as supervision. NPC should take the lead on supervision. There have been several meetings with NUS. NPC has also received good press in the media.

Dries offered to go to Exeter.
Action: Dries to visit Exeter.

Decision: March 7th 2pm, Erich and Simon going to NUS meeting, Dries, TRP and Marilyn might also go. Others can chip in ideas.

12:00pm Ismail arrived

5)Officer reports

Equal ops
Simon received a recent verbal report and update

Project Officers
Katie: No report

Ismael: Spoke with Simon and Andre at MSU Conference. Each university seems to have their own practices. A conference with a panel might be the best approach to gather useful data, otherwise there will be too much diversity of data.

Simon mentioned that the Cambridge debate might be
useful and although they have made their decision a speaker from either side would be useful.
Action: Ismael to send report by Wednesday to Marilyn

Dries: Ran session at Sussex, went well. Still need to get back to them to give them a hand out. Also spoke to UCL about affiliation. UCL asked probing questions but seemed pleased with the answers.
Action: Dries to produce handout and give to Erich.

Andre suggested archiving the power point presentation
Action: Dries to archive in mailing list.

Simon reported that there has been communication
between Duncan and Martin. Theres also been work done with the Times Higher. We may get a regular spot answering questions on the back page.

Dries suggestions questions go to the NPC exec list so other past officers can give their insight in formulating replies.
Action: Duncan to follow up with NPC exec.

Treasurers report
Next big task is to write up accounts for the auditor.
Some debts will be transferred to this financial years accounts as Tim is not sure they will be recovered. This will mean a slight variation to last years account.

There is income of 530 pounds from news international its not quite clear what this is for. Tim informed the MSC that we have a duty to find out. Discussion suggested it was likely to be related to the Times Higher, possibly based on some rates they have for articles and interviews theyve requested from us.
Action: Tim to write to the account holder and try and get more details.

Discussion on the budget to date followed, it was
suggested that the presentation of actual and estimated income is not calculated in a helpful way.
Action: Tim to try find a better way of presenting it

Tim was asked about conference accounts which were
still open. He replied that this should be sorted with Duncan in the very near future.

Ismael questioned whether we could use an ethical
investment fund. Tim replied that he would ask the

It was noted that the stationary cost was high, Tim replied that the stationary order is large as we dont do this every year.

Business Cards for officers was raised, it was
suggested that this could be discussed under AOB.

NPC Scotland report
Simon has been trying to get in touch with Maggie, most of the time this has not been successful. UHI Millennium institute and Paisley have joined. Simon is trying to organize a Scotland meeting.

NPC Wales
Swansea have paid and Cardiff need to be followed up. Banger wanted to only pay for research students, Simon has explained to them that the difference in cost wouldnt be much and they really should cover all postgrad students.

It was queried if the university of Wales should be paying a nominal affiliation fee as per London, in addition to the individual institutions. The situation in Wales was seen to be different and unlike London they dont actually have any students directly in the central body. There is also no students union for the central institution. Ishmael offered to look at University of Wales further.

6)Conference 2006 update

Simon has looked at the new facilities. Stephen is
getting prices. We can use the Guild as well which may help keep costs down.

Erich suggested postgraduate representation, starting from the basics and looking at how postgrad study has changed and how representation has or needs to change to accommodate this. This was Tims idea for a satellite conference some time ago. Erich felt adding something looking at funding from local campuses to the funding of national bodies like NPC would make the idea
more interesting.

Theme: Postgraduate representation and its funding

Can get lots of people talking about funding graduate education
Representational side.
National agenda.
Local level.

In the past there was a day for students, a day for graduate schools and other bodies. Best practice guide could be an integrated story combining best practice from around the country. Dries raised a concern that after giving the award some one could come along and say we do that too, but we do this as well and are better. Erich pointed out the best practice guide is
based on submissions from unions so if they dont
submit they cant complain.

Have we got a significant date (age of NPC) for this year? Tim said there is a date of 1982 perhaps, the bank account is 1991. conclusion is that this might not work.

The length of conference was discussed. 4 days was
still considered good, but ending on a Sunday was a problem due to transport difficulties and people
getting home late before a full week of training etc at their local union. The Sundays have been getting less and less popular in local years, as has the number of voting delegates at the AGM.

Standard agenda:
Thursday key notes
Friday policy and training
Saturday agm
Sunday networking

Ideas for this year:
Between 2pm and 6pm, 3 sessions
Thursday: VC Aston to open, house rules, key note
speakers, Presentation on the postgrad landscape. Role play groups session. Dinner (Simon doing highlights of the year and NPC positions as the key note). Evening wine reception, quiz, gallery of posters from the unions, freshers fayre.

Key notes: Honorary president or Prof Roberts
Landscape: Andre suggested Keith Trigwell (Oxford,
Reader in Higher Education and HE Academy Research and Teaching Forum member) or Professor Charles Munn OBE (Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland & QAA Board member).
John wakeford: role playing on representation (if hell do it). One side playing uni managers the others playing student, then get them to feed to each other.
Solve crisis.

Simon suggested people should be assigned to groups before they arrive for the first session.

8am to 9:30am breakfast and intro (giving outline for the day 20 mins), 1 hours Dries talk (representation), 15 minutes coffee break, 1 hours training in groups (representation) (assigned groups to keep sizes even),
summaries back to main group (15 mins), lunch 1 to 2.30 (and stalls), Manager York GSA talk, panel debate on separate graduate budget or within the student unions, go through entries for award / look at how graduate associations have spent their money over the year / funding representation at a local level (summary of
what unions do) following this getting money
[Dries person who arranges funding between unions and corporations] [google can talk about google scholar], annual dinner (and awarding prize).

8am to 9:30am breakfast AGM

Sunday Getting money to live as a postgrad
Refer to working group

7)NPC Projects

Deferred to AOB


EuroDoc are asking for contributions from member

Decision: It was unanimously agreed to pay the amount EuroDoc requested as a contribution (up to 200 pounds) for this year, but without prejudice to decisions in future years.

Action: Tim to pay EuroDoc

It suggested that the EuroDoc decision should go to an OGM, but (after discussion) with the caveat that MSC will take the final decision based on operational matters.

Decision: The above was agreed on a nod.


Simon asked for a steer on a theme as well as the
operational details about having the OGM on 1 day or 2. Feedback from last time was that people preferred discussion workshops than the formal business. Many affiliates Simon has spoken to seem to think 1 day would be better. Theyd also prefer more discussion on this day.

It was mentioned that the station is not called
Cranfield so instructions need to be explicit on what station to go to. There will be a mini bus to get people and take them from the station. Dries Training will be Welfare support.


Andres resignation.
Simon informed the meeting that he had received a
resignation letter. Copies were given to those who
wanted to see it. The resignation to take effect before the next OGM was noted.

Meeting in March. Need to discuss what NPC wants from NUS. NUS wants a partnership agreement. Need to also know what we and they are doing. Erich: What we want from NUS is ask them to get their affiliates to join us.
Action: MSC to send ideas to the list.

Ideas on getting people to use the site, to make it more useful etc to be forward to Simon.
Action: All to send ideas re: website to Simon

Staff member
Dries suggested it would be better to invest in a staff member rather than keep the investment as cash. Tim said hed been thinking of this staff member as an administrator. We dont have funds for a staff member full time, the costs are higher than for a sabbatical.
Andre noted that the reserves are in 2 parts, one of which we need to keep accessible in case we need to wind down. This portion goes up if we employ a staff member.

Action: Referred to Exec mailing list, Simon to action

International students festival
Simon noted that there is a meeting next week on this. Tim still need to talk to the auditor before releasing funds. We will have a stall and presentation on the international experience of postgrads. Ideas to Simon.
It was noted that we should get an invoice for the

The meeting closed at 5:45pm.

The minutes were taken by Andre Oboler.