MSC Stafford Tower of Aston University, Birmingham - 3rd/4th September 2005

Minutes of the NPC Management Subcommittee meeting held in the Stafford Tower of Aston University on the 3& 4 of September 2005

The meeting started at 4:15pm on Saturday the 3rd with Marilyn Shanks in the chair. Guillotine was set at 6:30pm.


Present: Marilyn Shanks (Chairperson), Andre (Minutes Secretary), Dries Neirynck (Project Officer), Tim Roll-Pickering (Treasurer), Stephen Abbots (Conference Secretary Elect), Philip Carr (Ordinary Executive Officer), Harpreet Singh (Ordinary Executive Officer), David Bean (Project Officer), Ismail Malik (Project Officer), Lade Robinson (Equal Opportunities Officer), and Simon Felton (General Secretary Elect)

Apologies: Duncan Connors (Conference Secretary & communications officer), Maggie Chapman (Chair of NPC Scotland), Kate Harper, Jim Ewing (General Secretary).

The meeting agreed to move the ratification of minutes (not present) and Jims report (Jim was onsite, but away from the meeting due to illness) to tomorrow.

Chair: Requests that people respect each other during the meeting.

2)Financial report

Tim Roll-Pickering as tabled with the addition that Tim had handed an invoice to Joe Rukin (NUS Treasurer) but needed to send another copy.

Harpreet noted the bank was listed in red. Tim responded that interest and bank charged came under 1 heading, the red signified negative expenditure i.e. were making interest. Tim added the NPC pays very few bank charges.

Dries requested additional information on the section Diversifying our income.

Tim: Previous teams have been trying to get our income to the point where we could get a second sabbatical. In general the income and expenditure are balancing. The second paragraph is something weve largely moved beyond, historically we were occasionally in a position where due to debtors we couldnt pay salaries etc. Paragraph 3, we need to sell what we do to affiliates, but we also need to get other income streams e.g. publication sales and individual donations. Could get universities and other interested groups to buy things, fully transferring the cost. If we could get people to make individual donations by a regular standing order it would make it easier to keep track of the scheme and be more secure for us and easier for them. The last paragraph notes our reserves are at a high level. As a charity we are required to make the best use of our funds. Interest on bank accounts are not the best use. Government bonds e.g. over 3 years, have a higher yield. Another goal has been to have staff support. However this takes substantive reserves.
Andre: Can we liquidate bonds if needs be before the three years?
Tim: We need to get advise

Marilyn: Proposal can we action Tim to investigate

Dries asked if we can have a discussion about the aims for our saving.
Andre asked if Tim wanted approval to spend money on getting financial advice, Tim said hed get free advice first and come back to the committee for approval before seeking paid advice.
Harpreet stressed affiliations are more important than donations and we need more affiliates. Dries suggested we at least consider hiring a part time member of staff. Tim replied that there are different costs between having a second sabbatical and having a staff position and this needs to be investigated.
Philip asked when the bulk of our affiliations occur, Tim replied September, October.
Dries asked if charity status could be made more use of in raising money and whether charity support organisations could be a new source of advice. Harpreet suggested working with rags.
Dries questioned the use of money on Tim Browns research project given a lack of clarity about the project. Tim replied that sponsorship is usually for the specific project so we may not be able to change that.
Marilyn questioned advertising on the NPC site and whether we got advertising revenue. Tim and Harpreet clarified that it is a news feed and of benefit to us in keeping the site fresh.

3)Conference Secretary Report

Tim informed the MSC that Duncan is collecting and collating payments and working out who needs to still be invoiced.

4:42 Ishmael joins the meeting.

Harpreet queried some of the conference figures, including NPC paying all of Peter Campbells costs. Tim responded that this figure was probably not accurate. Dries noted that he was not listed on any of the lists but was expecting NPC to pay for him.

Harpreet noted the delays in response to queries to the FSC re: NPC covering officer costs. Tim noted technical difficulties prior to the FSC meeting and the Treasurers desire to form a complete list before taking decisions.

Marilyn proposed guidelines on communication in relation to conference subsidies be created to help avoid confusion next year.

Action Marilyn, Simon, Stephen and Tim to report back possibly during this weekend.

Lade asked if FSC decisions are reported to the MSC. Tim replied that the conference decisions are reported directly to the AGM due to timing. He said hell generally try to get minutes out within a week of the meeting.

Tim noted that for the Scottish and Welsh sub-committees its the deputy chair and secretary responsible for minutes. For the FSC and CSC no one is formally designated.

Harpreet requested policy and guidelines on who NPC pays for be formally drawn up. Tim noted that we have policy partially based on precedent.

ACTION: FSC and CSC. Each subcommittees first meeting should designate a minutes secretary for that subcommittee.

4)Other reports

Incoming General Secretary

(Written report of what was said provided post meeting)

I want to work with other officers to expand our awareness and relevance to institutions, associations, student unions and postgraduate students nationally. I want the NPC to be seen as the recognised voice for postgraduate students. The NPC represents and involves a broad coalition of postgraduate students both home and international, full time and part time, through their involvement as individuals or through student unions, guilds or associations. The NPC brings students together to agree on issues of common concern and work to bring about positive change through collective action.

I want to work on several projects, some supporting officers ambitions and projects. We should seek to expand our affiliations and other sources of revenue such as a 'friends of NPC' scheme. We should also produce and develop policy to support part-time students and to develop new forms of representation to cater for a diverse population. I would like to establish guidelines for writing up students and to consider tuition fees and PG funding, lobbying agencies to support postgraduate opportunities.

The NPC should work with other organisations to develop a direction and strategic plan to lead the postgraduate student movement and to provide
training to officers and staff involved in supporting postgraduates. Working with other bodies such as the NUS we should establish regional hubs and training opportunities for all incoming student union officers to make them
aware of postgraduate issues and supplement this with a pack published between the NUS and NPC highlighting postgraduate students. This pack and further publicity and marketing should highlight our visibility and provide a clear identity to sell ourselves to students and unions.

Other goals expressed included:

Working with other officers
Wants to set up friends of NPC
Want to work with PGCE
Affiliations, particularly with the Russell group
Also with others focussing on the midlands
Focus on part time students and writing up students
Want to look at virtual representation
Want to lobby the government about funding
Want to use ourselves to provide training
To make future planning a major aspect i.e. long term plans

Harpreet questioned whether the hand over be effective with Jims holidays coming up. Marilyn said yes.

Philip asked if Simon has an address, Simon replied it would be c/o bugs

Harpreet asked if handover can be built into the Gen Secs contract as a non holiday period?

Action: Tim to consult with relevant subcommittees on the possibility of changing the contract

Equal Ops Report
Lade as an equal ops officer there isnt much to do. Id like to get more involved and work out how to explore more activity.

David asked if NPC can give case work advise on equal ops. Tim replied yes, but only the general secretary is insured for it.

Action: Lade and Harpreet to discuss writing a standard paragraph notifying people about making the meetings accessible.

Action: Marilyn and Tim to try and get in touch with Paulet about equal ops hand over.

Project officers Reports

Additionally, In the item of attracting new affiliates, Ill be offering myself to help with this.

Philip: How will you get started?
David: Will come up with a survey questioning people about the issues.

Some discussion about methodology followed, it was suggested that this happen

Harpreet noted that its a very commendable project plan. The only thing is that some of it is in Simons area so they need to work together on it together. Dries suggested we should use this to try and increase affiliations, which is something thats not in here.

Marilyn mentioned that Simon and her have discussed ways of getting affiliation without having this take up all of the Gen Secs time. Lade expressed concern that the rest of the MSC was nto part of these discussion.

Harpreet suggested that the way Katie has written her project is very clear, and it could be used as an example of best practise for the other projects.

Action: Other project officers to look at this format in preparing their proposals for the OGM

Im looking at intellectual property retention rights, particularly when you finish your work.

Harpreet noted that at Aston all intellectual policy is kept by the university. David noted that registration contracts may require that students give up these rights. Dries noted that it has not been tested in the courts so it was not clear on what the out come of such requirements was.

Marilyn noted the need to discuss intellectual property of this work. Tim elaborated on the problems with authorship and editorial ship, e.g. if the original author does not like a major rewrite do you have to scrap the whole thing. Harpreet noted that it should be less of a problem with projects than with things that get regularly updated. Marilyn noted that we need to resolve some of the issues internally and discuss this. She also noted the importance of projects being attainable within one year.

Will do more training sessions. Report will be made based on other discussions.

Tim asked if Dries wanted to write prepared sessions or would like to travel around the country presenting sessions at affiliates. Dries noted that prepared sessions would be easier but there were benefits to travelling sessions.

Ordinary Exec

Because I dont have a specific remit Id like to muck in when I can and learn stuff. My role is to be a jack of all trades.

The same as Phil, except I do have some specific things including making an NPC CD Rom and approach the unions in the right manner.

NPC in the devolved nations
Maggie isnt present, Lade notes that he isnt really aware of whats happening with NPC Scotland.

Action: Marilyn to send an e-mail to Maggie

Dries queried is we need to focus on the devolved nations at the MSC.
Harpreet replied that we do need to discuss them at least briefly.

Lade reported that Maggie was re-elected chair, and he was elected deputy. Andre noted that this made Lade responsible for the NPC Scotland minutes.

In discussing Wales it was noted that Jim was not present and was the only one able to report on this. Tim discussed affiliations and in particular Swansea and Cardiff, and the need to hold a Welsh meetings.

Dries noted that in Wales and Northern Ireland we seem to be pushing at them. Tim noted that the initial interest did come from them but died off.
Marilyn: We need Jim for this item, will defer

5)Conference 2006

Stephen reported that he had not spent much time in the office since conference, but the MSC had now seen the accommodation. He noted the new Aston Conference centre that would be finished by December and was 10 minutes from the accommodation. Building work was running on schedule but as a backup there is also rooms in the university and the guild.

Harpreet reported that the university is very supportive and he would assisting Stephen get up to speed.

Marilyn asked Stephen to put together a proposal in time for discussion before the OGM and requested a tour looking at the facilities after the meeting.

6)Calendar (MSC meetings and OGMs)
Marilyn and Tim reported that they had discussed put all meeting dates on the web in advance.

The second OGM will be in Cranfield as discussed at the AGM. The weekend of the 4th and 5th of February would be ideal else 11th and 12th.

Dries asked about using the day after OGMs for MSC meetings. Tim replied that it had been tried and didnt work. After discussion it was agreed to keep the OGMs as a weekend, but perhaps look at the format.

Philip proposed Nottingham for the second or third OGM, Nottingham cant do the first meeting as it is book up.

1st OGM to be in Essex and the 3rd in Cardiff, with Lancaster and York getting first refusals after that.

Nottinghams for the 3rd MSC
Second MSC (January): St Andrews

The meeting adjourned at 6:25pm.

The minutes were taken by Andre Oboler.

Sunday 4th of September

The meeting re-commenced at 10:15 on Sunday the 4th with Marilyn Shanks in the chair.

Present: Jim Ewing (General Secretary), Andre (Minutes Secretary), Dries Neirynck (Project Officer), Tim Roll-Pickering (Treasurer), Marilyn Shanks (Chairperson), Stephen Abbots (incoming conference secretary), Philip Carr (Ordinary Executive Officer), Harpreet Singh (Ordinary Executive Officer), David Bean (Project Officer), Ismail Malik (Project Officer), Lade Robinson (Equal Opportunities Officer), and Simon Felton (General Secretary Elect)

In attendance: Martin Gough (JGE)

Apologies: Duncan Connors (Conference Secretary & communications officer), Maggie Chapman (Chair of NPC Scotland), Kate Harper

7)General Secretarys Report
Jim reported that since February conference took over and little else happened after the MSC directed him to drop every thing else. Jim had concerns about the way MSC took decisions and instructed the general secretary. He felt far too much of the general secretaries time was spent in travel to visit institutions as well as in chasing them up about affiliation fees.

On going work
The working group on racial and religious hatred was a successful session, from the discussion Jim is drafting a declaration.

Action: Jim to draft and send to MSC who will then take a decision and pass to OGM

Brighton abolished the post of postgraduate officer. A student is doing the work, and wants to get them to affiliate but hell need assistance.

Other projects: Comparison of postgrad facilities, comparative list of representation.

Those who benefit most from NPC are the student union staff members. Affiliates compare us to NUS but they dont get their affiliation fees worth of mailings through the mailing box. Jim suggested that union officers be encouraged to talk to their staff. What we do in the future should augment what were doing and not replace it.

Martin offered feedback, informing the MSC that he was General Secretary back in 1997 and having since followed the development of the job hes noticed its both General and secretary. The General part is that you need to be an independent thinker, a lot of the time you need to follow up leads like in a research project. You need to pursue things even though you havent been instructed. Much of the general secretaries job is to try things out rather than just following instructions.

Jim noted that he has not had it described this way before and the information would have been useful.

Dries asked Martin is hed done anything on representative structure in the Journal. Martin replied yes, but not on this level.

Jim noted that Vivas are another important issue. Martin noted that weve had people write on it from student and staff perspectives. Tim noted that London has just introduced a trial of independent via chairs starting in about May.

8)NPC Wales
Jim intended having a tour noted that it got knocked back by the MSC due to time constraints. Northern Island is similar. Weve gone one step backwards, with a staff member being particularly rude in refusing to pay outstanding affiliation fees. Jim recommended that we pursue them legally.

Action Tim to contact the general manager of the union or other people before bring it back to the MSC to decide further action.

9)Journal of Graduate Education
Martin introduced JGE to the new MSC. He informed that MSC that JGE has about 20 paying subscribers plus all NPC affiliates get a copy via the general secretary. The current issue is in print. Issue 2 is quite good in terms of the number articles written by graduate students. Its more empirical survey.

Action: Jim, Simon and Martin to organise a copy of the archive

The 4th issue of volume 3 is now in print. There have been discussions over the past 4 or 5 years as to what to do from next issue in terms of format. UKCGE have been supportive in principle of carrying on or starting a new Journal. There have been discussions of incorporating JGE in this journal. Alister McCallan would like to Launch the new Journal in 2006. NPC could choose to support that, if NPC didnt like it, it could then withdraw its support.

Action: Duncan and Martin to discuss the journal and how to do better.

10)The year in focus
Dries suggested we should work on retraining affiliates not just attracting new ones. We should include a welcome and explanation to new union officer. Andre suggested that when were in town more effort should be made to invite local unions to join us for part of the time. Jim commented that the first people hear from us is when they get an invoice. Harpreet noted that Julian from NUS says NUS will give us a slot in the training with NUS affiliates i.e. at their training event for welfare officers action to advocacy (was support and represent). Martin added that we used to have this and he went along when he was General Secretary. Simon suggested we should also contact the AMSU (Association of Managers of Students Unions) .

Action: Simon to contact Kat and Julian about our involvement in training

Harpreet again suggested we need a CD-ROM. Dries suggests putting a pack together, including a CD Rom, to give to union presidents when we talk to them. These were discussed as two ideas: A basic introduction, samples of work, contacts, etc. The other is the resource folder on CD Rom.

Simon proposed adding a marketing section to the agenda. This was agreed by the meeting.

11)Reform & Training
Tim introduced the item explaining how Tim Brown served as project officer last year and worked on a number of publications in this role. One of these was a training manual. When a draft was released there were some heated e-mails on some points, in particularly institutional visits. There are differences of opinion. Tim has put a finished version out as the manual and has asserted authorship. He wont let NPC change anything without his specific approval.

Jim commented that Tim cant use authorship to impose his will on the MSC and the NPC as a whole. HE suggested material that is written for NPC has to be according to NPC policy and instructions. Tim mentioned that there have been problems of a similar nature previously, for example with Jeremy Hoad. He suggested that editorial control needs to be assigned to NPC.

Harpreet offered to rewrite the manual and Lade offered to help

Action: Harpreet and Lade to rewrite Tims manual

After a request from the chair of additional items of reforms, Dries requested that items were going to discuss should be on the web so officers who cant make the meeting can comment.

Harpreet suggested it was time to go back and ask people what they want from NPC. He suggested we needed a forwards looking robust process over a longer time period in which we get ideas from affiliates and respond to them.

Jim noted that there is a danger of people making unrealistic demands. Dries agreed that we need to be realistic. He mentioned the recent policy to have a week of lobbying and how in reality we dont have the resources for that. Stephen suggested that although some ideas might be unrealistic we should still hear them.

Harpreet suggested we need to go introduce ourselves. Tell them what we can do for them, give them a CD rom, and then ask them what they want for us. We should use it as national brainstorming. Jim responded that were not going to the affiliates for them to tell us what to do, were going to dialogue with them

David suggested that instead of just targeting the sabbatical we need to target the postgraduate officers and representatives. Philip suggested its a two way process, we need to market ourselves, but we need to also try and use other approaches to get them to use us.

Lade noted that were supposed to be targeting postgrads, but most of what we talk about is Sabbs, staff, etc. He suggested we focus on ideas for ordinary postgrads. David noted that postgrad students and postgrads reps could be huge allies. We need to tell people weve done a lot of them and want their input in order to do more and then they will lobby their sabbaticals. Harpreet agreed, but suggested we needed a focus in order to get to the grass roots level. Marilyn pointed out that We have people approaching us via the posters and publications. Harpreet suggested we could run some training programs. Andre brought up the idea of a satellite conference for social secs. This is more grass roots training and separate to the OGMs. David felt that having training at OGMs is a positive thing and makes affiliates know something is happening. He mentioned he was very impressed with the training at the AGM. Simon noted that the OGM is a great way for postgraduates to see that they can get involved in a grass roots level and see what we do. Harpreet suggests that we advertise the training events (at the OGMs) more. Jim noted that the Postgrad list is an under exploited resource. Tim asked if he has posters left, Jim replied we did not.

Action: Everyone to put forward ideas for a poster

Dries said he was not convinced of a benefit of poster. Lade commented tbhat the website was hard to use, but was informed it was due be replaced. Marilyn questioned who had access to change the website. Ishmael suggested that Andrew Green give a training day to those MSC members who wanted it.

Motion: Administration of the website will be formally carried out by the GS, Communications Officer, publications assistant and those members of the MSC who are willing and able to take on full administration privileges.

Vote: For 10, Against 0, Abstain 1 (Motion carries)

Simon introduced the item, noting that follows on from the previous discussion on the CD ROM and promoting ourselves to affiliates and non affiliates.

Harpreet mentioned that one of the ideas we always raise is that other officers should help the General Secretary. But they dont know what to do or have the time. We need to let people know what theyre going to say. The point of a CD ROM is union officers can keep it, and NPC officers visiting them can speak to it.

David proposed that someone create a proposal outlining the CD ROM idea and the costs involved.

Action: Harpreet and Tim to work out costing

Jim noted that the delivery is also important and highlighted that if it was simply mailed to affiliates, a CD ROM had the same chance of getting into a computer as a mailed poster had of making it onto the wall.

Harpreet agreed and stressed the need to use it when talking to officers. It would need to be in a Part 1: Free introduction, and Part 2: that is only available to affiliates.

Harpreet introduced the item. He explained that the Eurodoc conference is wholly funded by the Socrates fund. So far theyve been held in Sweden, Holland, Greece, France etc. NPC was one of the founders of Eurodoc. There is a moral responsibility on NPC to hold a conference in the UK as were one of the strong bodies. We have the capabilities to do that. 2006 is in Bolonga. But we can bit for 2007, we could lose to eastern Europe, so we need to go in with a very strong bid.

Martin asked how much it depended on the funding of the local body. Harpreet responded that we are safe guarded by putting in an application for Socrates. Martin noted that EuroDoc is about contract research staff as well and asked how we include this group. Harpreet replied that wed work with those bodies. Martin responded that there arent any UK bodies like that.

Lade asked Harpreet if he was speaking on behalf of EuroDoc or NPC when he said we. Harpreet clarified that he was not representing EuroDoc in this meeting. Jim noted that Eurodoc has been applying for a smaller and smaller percentage of the costs from Socrates and asked what percentage of the cost wed need to secure from elsewhere. Harpreet responded that every year so far money had been returned to Socrates after getting money from sponsorship.

Tim asked who would make up the gap if there is a financial short fall. Harpreet replied that there would not be a gap as the funding would be secured in advance. If the sponsors say there is no money or Socrates cancel then as the conference organiser NPC would have to cut costs. Tim asked if NPC have to make up a short fall. Harpreet replied NPC would but only in the short term. He stressed it was a moral obligation given were one of the richest members. Dries noted that if were more organised in the UK we also have more to lose so were right to ask about the risks.

Ishmael mentioned that he used to be a Socrates ambassador from the UK. He noted that they do have the money. They play this game, but we need them to just give a fixed figure, not a percentage.

Dries noted that over a number of years people have tried to push us into this, but no one has come with figures and facts, only this oh we have a moral obligation. He asked Harpreet if he could come back with a proposal.

Harpreet said that people have looked into previous years Eurodoc budgets. Marilyn clarified that as a charity we need to know exactly what were getting into. Harpreet replied that it doesnt work like that. Countries make a bid for EuroDoc not EuroDoc makes a bid for countries.

Tim asked if invoiced would go to NPC or to EuroDoc. Harpreet replied that until now its been national bodies who have been bidding for the Socrates money not EuroDoc. Lade responded that we need the facts, and asked if they could be sent to the mailing list before next meeting.

Harpreet replied that his purpose was to initiate a discussion here. There is a possibility that we can explore, but if the response is always going to be that the door is closed then tiem was being wasted.

Jim replied that if a full costing could be presented NPC could then discuss going ahead or not. Dries stated that as an affiliate he was sceptical about the value of spending NPC money on this.

A vote was called on the meetings sentiments.
Motion: Do we think there is a possibility of moving forward in getting a proto-bid
10,1, 0

An action item was suggested stating that Harpreet and Tim should produce a report on the financial implications of hosting EuroDoc. Harpreet asked that Simon be added. Andre suggested that its perhaps not a valuable enough use of the General Secretarys time. Harpreet replied that he was not paid and General Secretary was, so Simon should help. Andre asked if anyone asked Simon. Simon replied that hed rather be involved as its a financial matter and best dealt with by the treasurer.

Harpreet replied that wouldnt accept the action item.

The item was taken to the vote:
Motion: Harpreet and Tim are to produce a report on the financial implications
Voting: 5 (for),2 (against),3 (abstain)

Meeting ends