DRAFT Academic Council Handbook

Academic Council Handbook

Academic Council Handbook

DRAFT - this site is under construction

DRAFT - this site is under construction

1. Introduction

The purpose of this handbook is to provide a reference guide to assist Chairs of Academic Council Committees and Sub Committees, Academic Council Committee Secretaries and Academic Council Committee members to perform their duties as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

The University has committed to a shared system of governance vis-à-vis Governing Body, Academic Council and senior management (UMT). 

The authority of the Governing Body is set out in Section 15 of the Universities Act, 1997.   

The authority of Academic Council is set out in Section 27 of the Act.  

See also Chapter C: of the Principal Statute at Appendix 2 available at OCLA Statutes

Information on UMT

2. Overview of Academic Governance in University College Cork

Academic Council, in law, is the primary internal authority responsible for academic affairs.  Internal revisions in academic governance must not undermine the legal powers granted to Academic Council but must enable it to discharge its responsibilities effectively and, in practical terms, must enable the alignment and integration of University/College academic governance arrangements with an appropriate balance being struck between accountability and autonomy.  Operationally this means that Academic Council retains authority on policy matters with University-level Committees and College Councils advisory to Academic Council, whilst in fact undertaking much of the preliminary work for purposes of efficacy.  Academic Council may delegate its authority in relation to various responsibilities.   With respect to delegated authority, the relevant reporting requirements are specified in the terms of reference of each Committee and, in all cases, Academic Council shall retain oversight through regular reports on the conduct of business from Academic Board, as is currently the case.

 The Governanc Flowchart displays the various Academic Council and related Committees and Sub Committees and illustrates the major inter-relationships between them.

In determining the detailed terms of reference for each Academic Council Committee/Sub Committee and in developing a code of conduct governing the operation of Academic Council and its Committees/Sub Committee, Academic Council, 15th October 2010, confirmed the following principles for the management of business between Academic Council Committees and Academic Council and Academic Board (as the Senior Committee of Academic Council): 

  1. Provide a clear purpose for each Committee, avoiding overlap whilst ensuring complementarity and options for joint working in thematic/strategic areas.
  2. Establish clear reporting lines between academic governance levels, transparent decision-making, clarity with respect to authority/responsibility, and concerning the authority to devolve powers.
  3. Ensure Academic Council oversight and authority by instituting effective reporting and annual business planning arrangements; and managed arrangements for the establishment/standing down of new Committees and Sub Committees at University level.
  4. Ensure functional linkages between core academic College-level and University-level Committees. College representatives from College-level Committees shall be ex officio members on University-level Committees and shall have the authority to reflect College views, and where appropriate, to take decisions on behalf of College, and shall also be responsible for communicating back to Colleges developments and decisions taken at University-level as necessary. 

At the College level, College Councils have a range of delegated responsibilities and roles from Academic Council and Academic Board in relation to academic programme development, examinations, student recruitment and applications, minor changes to marks and standards etc.  College Councils are governed by College Rules as approved by Governing Body.  The College Rules and relevant sections of the Principal Statute also define reporting relationships of staff and responsibilities and functions of academic units and various University bodies. 

College Rules are available from the College Offices.

3. Governance Flowchart

Governance Flowchart downloadable PDF

 

 

4. List of Academic Council Standing Committees / Sub Committees / Other, and their relationship to Academic Council

Name

Click name for Terms of Reference and composition 

Authority

Academic Board

Main Committees of Academic Council

CIT-UCC Joint Board

Sub Committees of Academic Board

UCC-TPI Joint Academic Standards Committee

Sub Committees of Academic Board

 

 

Academic Development and Standards Committee (ADSC)

Standing Committee of Academic Council

Academic Staff Development Committee

Standing Committee of Academic Council

External Examiner (EESC)

Sub Committee of ADSC

CPD Directorate

Sub Committee of ADSC

Digital Badges

Sub Committee of ADSC

Graduate Studies Committee

Standing Committee of Academic Council

Information Strategy and Education Resources Committee

Standing Committee of Academic Council

Research and Innovation Committee

Standing Committee of Academic Council

Learning and Teaching Committee

Standing Committee of Academic Council

Digital Education Advisory Group  

Sub Committee of Learning and Teaching Committee

 

 

Library Advisory Committee

Sub Committees of Information Strategy and Education Resources Committee

ACGSC Sub Committee (Examiner Reports)

Sub Committees of Academic Council

Student Media Executive

Sub Committees of Academic Council

Accreditation

Sub Committees of Academic Council

 

 

Emeritus Professor Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council

University Ethics Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council

University Fitness to Practise Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council

University Sabbatical Research Leave Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council

Mitigation Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council

Honorary Degrees Board

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council 

Student Discipline Panel and Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council

Examination Appeals Committee

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council

Appeal Committee (Student Discipline)

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council

Appeals Committee (Fitness to Practise)

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council

Appeals Committee (Fitness to Study)

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council

 

 

Examination Boards

Boards with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Board

Adult Continuing Education (ACE) Academic Standards Board

Boards with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Board

Academic Leadership forum (ALF)

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council 

Teaching and Assessment Continuity Group

Committees with delegated authority from Academic Council which report to Academic Council 

 

 

University Retention Committee

Committees Governed by Regulations which report to Academic Council

Lecturer Promotion and Establishment Board

Committees Governed by Regulations which report to Academic Council

Professor (Scale 2) Promotions Board

Committees Governed by Regulations which report to Academic Council

Governing Body

Committees Governed by Regulations which report to Academic Council

University Management Team

Committees Governed by Regulations which report to Academic Council

5. Code of Practice

5.1          Introduction

This Code of Practice comprises a summary of the essential definitions, principles and procedures governing Academic Council Committee operations. Its primary focus is on Committee operations at University-level rather than College or School/Faculty level, although a number of the principles may be applicable in these contexts also. The Code of Practice should be read in conjunction with guidance on committee servicing. 

If you have any questions about this Code of Practice, please contact: Ms Aoife Ní Neill, Academic Affairs and Governance a.nineill@ucc.ie

The powers, authority, and the conduct of business of Academic Council are as set down in the Universities Act 1997 and in the UCC Principal Statute. 

5.2        Definitions

 A Committee of Academic Council is a body established by Academic Council and authorised to take decisions according to prescribed terms of reference and/or delegated powers. Each Committee of Academic Council shall have a clear, unique and necessary function, and be the deliberative forum for prescribed areas of business. Such Committees may be authorised by Academic Council to take decisions according to their terms of reference and delegated powers. 

A Sub Committee is a body normally created by its parent Committee to carry out one or more aspects of that Committee's work for the indefinite future. A Sub Committee will commonly (but not necessarily) comprise a subset of the members of the parent committee. The Sub Committee's terms of reference and constitution should be defined by the parent Committee (subject to the formal approval of these terms of reference and constitution by Academic Council).  Where a parent Committee deems it appropriate, it may further delegate its decision-making powers to one or more of its Sub-Committees with approval from Academic Council.  Academic Council may itself establish Sub Committees targeted at specific areas of activity to report to one or more Academic Council Committee as appropriate.  In such circumstances, Academic Council will define the terms of reference and constitution of the Sub Committee.    

A working group is a body set up by a Committee or a Sub Committee in order either

  1. to examine a particular issue or particular issues periodically (on either a regular or an irregular basis) over an indefinite period; to submit reports thereon as and when requested by the Committee or Sub Committee concerned; and (where the working group meets irregularly) to be reconvened as directed by the Committee or Sub Committee;
  2. to examine a particular issue or particular issues, within a predetermined period or for what is expected to be a finite period; to submit a report thereon to the Committee concerned; and upon completion of its business to be stood down by the Committee or Sub Committee.

Or

It is for the parent Committee to determine in what form it wishes to receive the proceedings and recommendations of its Sub Committee(s) and Working Group(s) although Sub Committees and Working Groups shall be minuted and minutes will automatically be submitted to the Chair and Committee Secretary of the parent Committee.             

5.3         Reporting requirements

The terms of reference and delegated powers of a Committee/Sub Committee and the reporting relationship and methods of reporting one Committee to another should be simply and clearly prescribed. The terms of reference of each Committee should indicate explicitly a reporting line to a senior Committee(s). 

5.4         Membership appointment and election

A Committee's constitution should normally indicate how the Chair is identified, through her/his ex officio position or by appointment by the President.  The period of office for appointed Chairs shall normally be three years with the possibility for renewal of one further period of office if the position is held by appointment. 

 Membership is as agreed by Academic Council.  The period of office for committee members, either appointed or elected, shall normally be for three years with the possibility for renewal of one further period of office (three years) if the position is held by appointment. 

Ex-officio members retain membership whilst they hold the relevant office.  

Co-opted members (up to a maximum of three) shall be approved by Academic Council and shall normally serve for a maximum of one three-year period of office only.  If required to serve beyond this period, Committees and Sub Committees are advised to consider whether the co-opted member/category should be added to the membership.  Such a request must be placed before Academic Council for approval.  Academic Council may exceptionally grant a further period of office of up to three years for a co-opted member. 

Where a membership position is held by election, the election process shall be managed by the office of Academic Affairs and Governance in accordance with agreed procedures.  

When considering the renewal of membership Committee’s shall be mindful of the need to manage membership rotation in order to assure business continuity.  In order to encourage a balance between continuity of committee membership (with the steady growth in knowledge of a committee's business which this implies) and the opportunity for regular fresh input, all Committees are required to seek permission from Academic Council for any of their members, other than ex officio members, to serve for more than six consecutive years.  

At the start of each academic year Committees and Sub Committees shall consider their terms of reference and membership and where adjustment is proposed shall recommend such adjustments to Academic Council for consideration and approval, having taken advice from the Registrar. 

Committee Secretaries shall notify the office of Academic Affairs and Governance (a.nineill@ucc.ie ) of impending casual vacancies in membership for advice on the process of identifying suitable replacements.  

Equality Policies and Procedures
Academic Council shall endeavour to ensure that its academic governance arrangements are conducted in accordance with the principles of equality of opportunity.  Therefore, Academic Council shall regularly review the achievement of this objective and shall encourage Committees and  Sub-Committees to (1) take all reasonable steps to renew membership or to fill impending casual vacancies with staff from under-represented groups, and (2) confirm that this consideration has been taken into account in reviewing the membership. 

Support for new Committee/Sub Committee Chairs and members
Officers and Committee Secretaries shall provide appropriate briefing for new Chairs and members on the work of the Committee/Sub Committee before new Chairs/members attend their first meeting.

Staff development and support in committee work shall be provided by the Academic Secretary and the Administrative Officer, Academic Affairs and Governance, in partnership with the UCC Staff Development Team or as requested. 

5.5        Timetabling and conduct of business

Reasonable scheduling of Committee meetings is essential and needs to take account of the workload of both (i) committee members and (ii) committee officers (i.e. Chairs, Committee Secretaries and key administrative or other officers who produce papers for the Committee). There may sometimes be a tension between the demands of (i) and (ii): for example, while scheduling meetings of different Committees in close proximity to each other may rationalise the ‘committee diary' of committee members, it will tend to increase the pressure on committee officers to produce agenda papers and minutes quickly.  To ease such tensions and to facilitate business efficacy the following practices shall be adopted: 

  1. A University-level Academic Council Committee Calendar shall be scheduled each year by the office of Academic Affairs and Governance in consultation with Chairs and Committee Secretaries. This schedule shall be agreed in a timely manner for transmission to Colleges to enable Committee timetabling at that level.  A consolidated Academic Council Committee timetable shall be published each year in September detailing the schedule for the coming academic year.
  2. Committees/Sub Committees should not meet when there is insufficient business to justify their doing so.
  3. All Committees and sub Committee agendas and minutes prior to 01 January 2018 shall be available to members and relevant administration on the University’s intranet at a dedicated site. From 01 January 2018, All Committees and sub Committee agendas and minutes will be available on Quickminutes https://quickminutes.com/

Committee papers and minutes should be written in gender-neutral language - e.g., the term 'Chair', rather than 'Chairman', should always be used. 

The Committee Secretary is responsible for ensuring the agreed minutes are signed by the Chair and retained.  Staff and students at UCC shall have access to all minutes and agendas via the University intranet site and may request any papers considered by a Committee, unless specified as 'Confidential to the Committee', by contacting the relevant Committee Secretary. 

Names of Committee/Sub Committee Secretaries shall be published in the terms of reference and membership and made available on the intranet. 

5.6          Quoracy

Quoracy for Committees and Sub Committees shall normally be one fifth of the membership (excluding the chair), and shall be no less than 3. A Committee or Sub Committee wishing to vary the normal requirement for a quorum shall submit a request for this variation to Academic Council for approval.              

5.7         Special meetings

A special meeting of a Committee or Sub Committee of Academic Council (i.e. not timetabled in the annual schedule of meetings) may be organised by the Committee or may be requested by the same number of members of that Committee or Sub Committee as is required for a quorum.  

5.8          Attendance

A member of a Committee or Sub Committee, in the event that he/she is unable to attend a meeting, may exceptionally arrange for a suitably qualified deputy to attend instead, subject to the prior approval of the Committee/Sub Committee Chair concerned. 

Committees/Sub Committees may wish to invite officers or others to be present at meetings as 'in attendance’.  Before setting up such arrangements, Committees should first consider whether there is a case for these officers becoming full members of the Committee/Sub Committee.  In some cases, it may be essential for a particular administrative officer (or officers) always to be present at the meetings of the committee - but not appropriate for that officer to be a decision-making member of the Committee. In other cases, it may be appropriate for the Committee to advise officers that they are expected to be present at meetings only for discussion of those items of business which their advice will usefully inform.           

 

5.9          Reporting of one Committee to another

Committees of Academic Council shall report as specified in their terms of reference or as required on the basis of the business conducted.  Minutes of the various Committees shall be reported to Academic Board.  Minutes of Academic Council and the Academic Board shall be issued to each College for information and consideration at College Councils as appropriate.  Items requiring specific action by College Councils shall be specified by the office of Academic Affairs and Governance as appropriate.

The reporting requirements of Sub Committees shall be as specified in their terms of reference.

 Academic Council, as UCC's primary academic decision-making authority has the right to review a decision of any of its Committees taken under delegated authority or to refer a decision back to the Committee concerned for reconsideration.  

5.10       Chair’s Action

The Chairs of Academic Council Committees are empowered to take action on behalf of those bodies in any matters being in their opinion either urgent (but not of sufficient importance to justify a Special Meeting of the appropriate body) or non-contentious. The reasons and outcomes of such actions shall be reported by the Chair to the next meeting. 

5.11     Confidentiality and business proceedings

The following are categories of business for Committee meetings:

  • unrestricted or open business
  • business that is ‘Confidential to the Committee'

              As a general rule, as much Committee business as possible should be unrestricted or open. 

Exceptionally, Academic Council or its Committees may determine that an item of business should be treated as confidential. Business that is 'Confidential to the Committee' is permitted only where disclosure would be likely to prejudice:

  • The personal safety or reputation of UCC staff and students.
  • The security of UCC property.
  • The commercial interests of UCC and its partners.
  • Confidential relationships, both personal and commercial. 

The workings of Academic Council and its Committees and Sub Committees shall be visible and their decision-making accountable. In designating their proceedings 'Confidential to the Committee' Committees should use this definition consistently and only if they judge this absolutely necessary. 

Code of Practice: Approved by Academic Council 26th November 2010

6. Roles and Characteristics of Committee Members

6.1          Role of Committee Chair

 The Chair is very important to the effectiveness of the committee.

6.1.1       The principal responsibilities of the Chair are as follows:

  • To understand the purpose and objectives of the committee and play the lead role in planning the committees business to ensure coverage of the full range of its terms of reference in liaison with the Committee Secretary and, where appropriate, Chairs of parent committees and sub committees
  • To promote and support the work of the committee
  • To conduct committee meetings so that they are orderly, open and effective
  • To remain impartial, respect confidentiality and handle sensitive issues with discretion
  • To ensure, in liaison with the Committee Secretary, that the committee’s decisions are reported and acted upon appropriately
  • To represent the committee as required
  • To report to committee members on developments and decisions that affect the work of the committee 

6.1.2      The main duties of the Chair are as follows:

  • To participate in appropriate planning meetings with the Registrar at the start and end of each academic session, agreeing an annual schedule of business
  • To start the meeting on time and to state when the meeting will finish
  • To attend all meetings and keep an ongoing awareness of committee work and related matters between meetings
  • To chair the meeting fairly and impartially, introduce agenda items but not dominate discussion nor allow individual members to dominate.
  • Where appropriate, introduce speakers and invite relevant members to comment on agenda items, whilst ensuring that debate is not unnecessarily long
  • To ensure meetings progress in a timely fashion so that all items are afforded a reasonable amount of time
  • To manage committee discussions so that clear decisions are reached which identify what action needs to be taken, by whom, the timescale for this action and the nature of reporting back to the committee and to sum-up succinctly at the end of each item so that the committee members and Committee Secretary (for the minute) are clear about what has been decided
  • To ensure committee business is conducted in an expeditious manner and delivered to deadlines as may be requested by the Registrar and/or Academic Council and Academic Board
  • To agree draft minutes prepared by the Committee Secretary after each meeting; the draft minutes should be circulated to members within two weeks of the meeting
  • To meet with the Committee Secretary to prepare for each meeting and in liaison with the Committee Secretary to agree an agenda for each meeting, approve agenda items, commission reports, identify business as appropriate
  • To approve urgent and non-controversial matters on the committee’s behalf between meetings (i.e. Chairs Action)
  • To ensures that all members have access to accurate, timely and relevant information
  • Being aware of the wider context in which the committee operates, particularly being able to relate its business to the remit of Academic Council, related College functional area(s) and the Strategic Plan of the University
  • Being thoroughly familiar with the committee terms of reference
  • Maintaining up-to-date membership and circulation lists and advising the Administrative Officer, Academic Affairs and Governance, of any vacancies that require filling due to resignations, leave of absence etc.
  • Maintaining a full set of agenda papers and minutes for previous meetings
  • To build a close and co-operative working relationship with the Chair
  • To remain impartial, respect confidentiality and handle sensitive issues with discretion
  • To ensure, in liaison with the Chair, that the committee’s decisions are acted upon appropriately

 

6.2        Role of Committee Secretary

The office of Academic Affairs and Governance provides Committee Secretaries for many of the committees although a number are serviced by staff from sections relevant to the business of the committee.  The Committee Secretary has a wide ranging role in the management of the business of the committee. 

The principal responsibilities of the Committee Secretary are as follows

6.2.1        The main duties of the Committee Secretary are as follows:

  • To make arrangements for meetings including timing (in liaison with the Administrative Officer, Academic Affairs and Governance venue and hospitality as appropriate
  • To collate items of business between meetings
  • To draft agendas, papers and reports in consultation with the Chair
  • To review papers and reports prepared for the committee and refer back as appropriate
  • To be familiar with the content of papers for meetings
  • To ensure the timely distribution of committee papers to members via intranet
  • To receive and record apologies for absence from members
  • To attend all meetings and keep an ongoing understanding and awareness of the committee’s work and related matters between meetings
  • To verify that a meeting is quorate at the start of each meeting
  • To produce minutes for each meeting
  • To prepare a briefing note for the Committee Chair on any relevant issues in advance of the meeting to ensure that business is transacted efficiently
  • To assist the Chair with the induction of new members 

6.3          Role of Committee Member

Full participation by all members is paramount to the success of the committee 

6.3.1        The principal responsibilities of the committee members are as follows:

  • To make a positive and effective contribution to the work of the committee
  • To keep the committee informed of particular relevant local College/School issues and factors
  • To be clear about the functions of the committee
  • To attend all meetings or give apologies to the Committee Secretary if unable to attend
  • To respect confidentiality and handle sensitive issues with discretion 

6.3.2        The main duties of the committee members are as follows:

  • To respond in a timely fashion to requests for agenda items and any supporting papers
  • To read the papers prior to the meeting and note points to raise
  • To ensure familiarity with pertinent issues
  • To undertake any action points arising out of the minutes in a timely manner
  • Where alternates are permitted to represent members in their absence, to fully brief the alternate and provide all the necessary documentation prior to the meeting and to receive feedback after the meeting[1]
  • College representatives should be mindful of their responsibility with regard to functional linkages between core academic College-level and University-level Committees. As agreed by Academic Council, 15th October 2010, College representatives from College-level Committees shall have the authority to reflect College views, and where appropriate, to take decisions on behalf of College, and shall also be responsible for communicating back to Colleges developments and decisions taken at University-level as necessary.  

[1] A member of a Committee or Sub Committee, in the event that he/she is unable to attend a meeting, may exceptionally arrange for a suitably qualified deputy to attend instead, subject to the prior approval of the Committee/Sub Committee Chair concerned. See Attendance in Code of Practice above

7. Guidance on Committee Servicing

7.1          Introduction

The office of Academic Affairs and Governance has ultimate operational responsibility for committee arrangements. For any queries please contact a.nineill@ucc.ie 

7.2        Induction for new Committee Members

Newly appointed members should be provided with induction material.  As a minimum these should include:

  • How to access the committee intranet or equivalent
  • How to access the Academic Council Committee Handbook
  • A list of committee members and members of any sub committees or working groups
  • Details around any planned business
  • Dates and venues of the future committee meetings

7.3         Timetable of Work

The following is simply a guide to the deadlines in preparing for and following up a committee meeting:

Downloadable graphic of Timetable of work

Before the meeting

 

5 weeks before meeting             

Check annual schedule of business to ensure that work is being dealt with at the appropriate point in the cycle 

4 weeks before meeting             

Seek items from the Chair, regular contributors and other areas that feed into the committee 

Check actions from previous meetings that are still outstanding and chase again if required 

2 weeks before meeting             

Deadline for receipt of papers by Committee Secretary

 Agree final agenda with the Chair

8 days before meeting g             

Circulate papers via committee intranet

3 days before meeting

Circulate papers marked “to follow” on agenda

Only in exceptional circumstances should there
be papers to follow

0-1 day before the meeting

Update the Chair on developments since the distribution of the agenda and papers and provide the Chair with briefing notes

After the meeting

 
 
No more than 1 week after the meeting

Email draft minutes to the Chair for approval

No more than 2 weeks after the meeting

Chair approves the minutes 

Email unconfirmed minutes to committee members (to be formally confirmed at the next meeting)                                                                                    Send extract of minutes to relevant people for information and action

Initiate any actions required on behalf of the committee such as provision of approved minutes and reports to the parent committee or Academic Board as appropriate

No more than 4 weeks after the meeting Follow up on any outstanding actions on behalf of the committee 

 7.4         Guidance on Agenda formulation

Agenda items may come from several sources:

• The minutes of a previous meeting
• Items of a recurrent or cyclical nature
• Items referred to the committee by the parent committee, Academic Council or one of its committees or another University group or person (usually a senior staff member)
• Reports from sub committees or working groups
• Following the call for agenda items to the Chair, regular contributors and other areas that feed into the committee
• Correspondence

The agenda should take account of the strategic plan for the year and what business needs to be brought forward at each meeting.  The Committee Secretary should monitor repeat agenda items in relation to the designated action not having been taken.  Repetition of the same business item, unless a standing item, may reflect that the committee is not effectively seeing business through to a conclusion.  The normal order of the agenda is set out below:

              Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting

              Matters arising from the minutes not covered elsewhere on the agenda

              Apologies for absence

              Correspondence

              Chairs Business

              Business from parent committee (where appropriate) or Academic Board/Council requiring discussion and decision

              Business from sub committees or working groups (where appropriate) requiring discussion and decision

              Items generated by the committee itself for discussion and decision

              Other

              Items for information only

              Any other business (members should give the Chair or Committee Secretary prior notice of any item they wish to include under AOB.  It is at the  discretion of the Chair whether or not items will be considered) 

Agenda template

7.5         Guidance on writing minutes

The Minutes of the meeting are the official record of the University's business. They should be short and to the point and clearly record the decision of the committee. Minutes are not intended to be a verbatim record of the discussion but it is helpful to record a flavour of the discussion so the reader can understand the reasoning behind the decision. 

Minutes should be written in gender-neutral language. In particular, the term 'Chair' rather than 'Chairman' should always be used.  Only in exceptional circumstances should statements in the Minutes be attributed to named individual committee members.  In most cases, the impersonal ‘it was reported’, 'it was noted', 'it was suggested', etc, should be used. An example of exceptional circumstances would be when a member asked for his or her disagreement with a committee's decision to be recorded. 

Ensure that the Minute heading has the same title as the Agenda so that the Agenda and Minutes can be cross referenced. 

It is helpful to divide the minute of an agenda item into four elements;

  1. Item number and title of the item
  2. Short background information (if necessary)
  3. Record the key points of the discussion
  4. Set out the conclusion and decision of the Committee

Sample Minutes

7.6         Coversheets

Coversheets are used to act as the preface for a lengthy, detailed or complex paper.  All reports to Academic Board and Academic Council must be prefaced with a coversheet.  Coversheets should normally be no longer than 1 page.  All Academic Council Committees and Sub Committees are encouraged to use coversheets in order to allow for focused discussions to conclude in decision. 

Cover sheet template

 7.7         Guidance on Policy Writing

Keep it Simple:  A policy is not a law and shouldn't be written in legalese. It should be readily intelligible to a diverse audience of academic and administrative staff and students.  The policy should be short and succinct and terms should be adequately defined.  It should contain a one or two paragraph summary to tell the reader what the policy is about.

Select words carefully: 'shall' means compliance; whereas 'should' or 'may' means one may choose to follow policy, but they don't have to. 

Keep it General: A policy cannot be written that will take precise account of all possible situations. Its provisions need to be general enough and clear enough to be applied to unanticipated circumstances.

Keep it Helpful:  A policy should tell the reader why it exists (Academic Council or external body or in university statute) to whom it applies, when and under what circumstances it applies, and its major conditions or restrictions. A policy should also make reference to any previous policies so as to establish the historical and legal context of the current policy.  

7.7.1         Drafting a Policy:

  1. identify issue(s)
  2. decide if we have a policy and whether a policy is required
  3. identify originator
  4. identify other parties of interest
  5. identify other policies possibly affected
  6. assemble working group (if required)
  7. draft policy and consult in accordance with guidelines, including date for review of policy, by whom and in what manner.

Policy paper template

7.8 policy Development and Approval Workflow

Policy development approval workflow (flowchart)

Templates: Agenda, Coversheet and Policy Papers

The templetes in this section can be downloaded for you use and are your guide to the recommended format. 

Agenda template

Cover sheet template 

Policy paper template

Academic Affairs and Governance

Gnothaí Acadúla agus Rialú

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