School of Engineering
All Staff Meeting
November 5, 2010
Note of Meeting
1. Welcome and new format of meeting
Prof. Alan Murray (AFM) opened the meeting by noting that the previous separate Academic and
All Staff meetings had been merged into one meeting with two parts: the first part which comprised
agenda items of general interest to all staff and the second which comprised agenda items of
specific interest to academic staff. All staff (and postgraduate students) were welcome to attend
the full meeting, but members of support staff who wished to leave after the items of general
interest were welcome to do so. This development had been taken as the All Staff meeting had
more recently not been well attended by members of academic staff, there were several items
repeated at both meetings and also some members of support staff were very interested in
listening to and contributing to discussions relating to academic issues. Meetings would be
scheduled on Wednesday afternoons from now on, in order to help maximise attendance.
AFM welcomed the following new staff to the School:
Dr Jin Sun, Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering
Ms Kate Nicol, Teaching Support Officer, Engineering Teaching Organisation
Ms Jacqueline Bunting, Finance Assistant, Finance Office
Mr Stewart Wilson, Computing Officer, IT Services
Ms Robin Cathcart, Research Support Officer, UK Carbon Capture and Storage Centre
Mr Bryan Mitchell, Laboratory Support Technician
Research staff: Dr Mostafa Afgani, Dr Chaoran Du, Dr Irinel Ilie, Dr Chadi Khirallah, Dr Aristides
Kiprakis, Dr David Olivieri, Dr Wasiu Popoola, Dr Jean Baptise Richon, Dr Adam Robinson, Dr
The minutes of the meeting on April 30, 2010 were approved.
4. Matters arising from previous meeting
The recent accreditation by the IET had been successful. AFM thanked all those responsible for
ensuring that the School has been accredited for the next 5 years.
College Workshop Review: the College had been unsuccessful in attracting a suitable Workshop
Manager to the new post advertised and was currently working on a revised plan to progress the
5. Items of general interest
5.1 Changes of role
AFM noted the following changes of role:
Prof. Stefano Brandani had been appointed as Director of Research as Prof. Steve McLaughlin
stepped down from this role.
Prof. Ian Bryden had been appointed as Head of Research Institute for Energy Systems as Prof.
Robin Wallace had stepped down from this role.
Dr John Christy had been appointed as Head of Discipline (Chemical Engineering) as Dr Jennifer
Skilling had stepped down from this role.
Dr Martin Gillie had agreed to be appointed as Head of Discipline (Civil and Environmental
Engineering) from summer 2011 when Dr Simon Smith would step down.
Dr Luke Bisby had been appointed as the Chair of the Technical Services Committee as Prof.
Stefano had stepped down from this role.
AFM thanked all of those who had served the School extremely well in these positions of
responsibility and wished those well who were new in the roles.
The School was currently recruiting:
• the Bert Whittington Chair in Electrical Power Engineering. School visits/seminars and
interviews would take place on November 12/15.
• Reader in Energy Systems (to replace Prof. Rebecca Barthelmie)
• Lectureship in Carbon Capture (Chemical Engineering) as a result of EPSRC funding via
AFM responded to a question about the recruitment of the TSO (SMC) position by noting that the
School was reviewing this currently.
5.3 Research Review
The report was due to be received by the School imminently.
5.4 Potential Impact of Comprehensive Spending Review
AFM quoted from a document circulated by Dr Bruce Nelson, College Registrar on the context for
a Contingency Planning Exercise which all Schools had been asked to undertake.
“We knew before the General Election that higher education, in common with almost all areas of
public spending, faced the prospect of significant recurrent cuts in public funding as the
Government attempted to address both the shortfall in tax receipts from the recession and the
underlying structural deficit in the public finances. We now know that these cuts will be deeper
and quicker than previously indicated, with the new Coalition Government's decision to speed up
the balancing of the books. However, what exactly these cuts will be is as yet unclear. The UK
Government will announce the outcome of its spending review on 28 October, with initial
announcements from individual Government departments to follow.
The Scottish Government's draft budget for 2011/12 (which impacts on SFC funding for the final
few months of the University's 2010/11 financial year) will be published in mid‐November. This is
subject to Scottish Parliament approval. There are obviously greater uncertainties about this given
that we currently have a minority government. And to add to the uncertainties we have a Scottish
Parliament election in May 2011, with the possibility of a change in government.
Clearly the position is very uncertain at present. However, we know the broad figures against
which Government departments are planning and have estimated the potential impact of cuts at
this level on the University. Hence we are able to start thinking about how we would cope with
However, the position is not all “doom and gloom". We now know the final figure for research
grants and contracts awards for 2009/10. Colleagues have won £114M in fierce competition
against other institutions. This is an increase on the previous year's figure of £106M and nearly
40% up on the 2007/08 figure. PGT numbers are looking very good for this year, as are
international student numbers. So we will be contingency planning from a strong starting position.
In considering possible contingency plans, it is obviously important that Schools consider the
potential impact on the REF. It is important both reputationally and financially that the University
performs as well as possible in this. In particular we must do what we can to ensure strong growth
in PGR student numbers.”
AFM noted that the School had pruned its deficit. Our grant income performance had also
improved while other Schools had not been so successful; as a result, our income from grant
income towards PI salaries had grown well. Student recruitment had been buoyant and
Electronics student numbers, which had recently been declining, had stabilised. The PGT student
numbers were also beginning to stabilise after some fluctuation. However, due to the National
Budget situation, the University is facing possible budget cuts of up to 16%. In the School, we
would have to address this by trying to increase our income and by cutting our expenditure. Given
that more than 90% of our budget is salaries, the importance of the Voluntary Severance / Early
Retirement scheme was apparent; changes in pension legislation effective from the new tax year
could make this scheme attractive to some members of staff at this stage. There is currently a
University wide Contingency Planning exercise to plan for how we would cope with drastic cuts of
the order mentioned; this was due to be submitted by the end of the year. It was difficult to say
much more at present, except that the School of Engineering was attempting to address this
systematically. In response to a question as to whether the University was writing to Alex
Salmond, AFM suggested that if anyone felt strongly about this, then they should write to him.
5.5 Gender Review
Prof. Jo Shaw had interviewed several members of staff. AFM thanked all of those who had been
interviewed and noted that the report was due to be delivered to the Principal by Prof. Jo Shaw
imminently. AFM noted that he intended to have a meeting once a year between the Senior
management team and new staff (i.e. those who had been appointed in any of the three previous
years) to help them ‘find their feet’, this in addition to the existing formal School induction
5.6 Health and Safety Policy – update
AFM noted that there had been amendment to the School Safety and Health Policy which made
explicit that no alcohol, nor recreational drugs nor prescription drugs which had the effect of
drowsiness were permitted to be consumed prior to operating machinery.
AFM noted that Bryan Mitchell was available to assist with risk assessments associated with the
handling of chemicals.
5.7 Staff Induction
The School has updated its induction programme for new staff and guidelines for line managers;
these have been approved by Management Committee and are now in use. These are also
available for anyone who would like to have an induction, ‘after the fact’ by contacting their line
5.8 Revision of University HR Policies
BMcC noted that the University was currently reviewing up to 74 of its HR policies and procedures
including the one on maternity leave, sickness absence and annual leave, inter alia. Further
details were available in the University “Staff News” a link to which was circulated by the University
to all staff.
5.9 School Website
The School was currently in the process of revising its website with a new content management
system (Drupal) and a look and feel very similar to the University Polopoly driven website; next
steps included the setting up of access levels and rolling out of this to relevant staff. The new
website would go live on December 1, 2010.
5.10 School Calendar
The School now has a "School Calendar" in EXSEED, available by viewing "Engineering S" (alias
senginee). School meetings including the All Staff Meeting, Discipline Meetings, Management
Committee, etc, are now being entered into this Calendar as well as the individual Calendars of
Committee members where this practice already happens. If staff are planning a meeting
involving a number of School staff members, it is useful to consult this Calendar to check for
clashes with School meetings already scheduled. Staff were requested to 'invite' the School
Calendar to such meetings so that others can view this in the School Calendar and avoid
scheduling a meeting at the same time.
5.11 Christmas Closure (BMcC)
The University will close at 5 pm on Thursday December 23 and will reopen on the morning of
Wednesday January 5, 2011. Please note that Thursday December 23 is a full working day and if
staff wish to be off that day, they must request a full day's leave. All staff are required to take off 4
days of annual leave (or pro-rata number of days for those on part-time contracts) in addition to
the four days of public holidays (Monday December 27 in lieu of Saturday December 25 and
Tuesday December 28 in lieu of Sunday December 26 and Monday January 3 in lieu of Saturday
January 1 and Tuesday January 4 in lieu of Sunday January 2, 2011).
6. Academic issues
All documents for academic promotions which potentially could take effect from August 1, 2011
had now been submitted to the College Office. AFM thanked HoRIs for identifying staff in their RIs
who are either ready to be considered or ready to be advised. School “policy” is to try to submit
strong cases at the right time so that these are not rejected on the basis of being premature by the
College Promotions Committee. The process to consider possible cases to take effect from
August 1, 2012 would be considered in Spring 2011.
6.2 Workload Model
The School was continuing to develop this model and each member of academic staff would be
able to view their own data and the Institute / School average.
6.3 Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) and Time Allocation Survey (TAS)
This was discussed briefly and AFM indicated that the School would be requesting more
information about University finance allocation more generally.
6.4 Student Feedback
The School has improved its NSS ratings on feedback and this was due to hard work within the
School to achieve this. However, there is still an issue with the promptness of provision of
feedback to students (we are currently rated “Category B”) and there is a need to improve upon
6.5 Foundation Programme
Dr Tom Bruce (TB) outlined the details of the University’s approach to Foundation Programmes.
This was aimed at those applicants whose standards are below ours or where assessment is not
reliable. Students on this programme would be admitted into a 4-5 year integrated programme,
rather than having a separate ‘introductory year’ to an existing degree programme. Diagnostic
testing would be conducted prior to admission. The management group includes all Directors of
Teaching in the College of Science and Engineering except for Informatics. Funding would be
available from this source and in fact the School of Engineering could potentially gain more from
this than any other School in the University.
6.6 Online Distance Learning
TB was keen to develop an offering in this area and would be looking for volunteers. There would
be a financial reward but this would against the context of initial start-up costs investment. How
this would affect fees was not known yet. Another major issue to be dealt with would be
assessment ‘outside the walls’.
6.7 Teaching Away Day
This would take place in week 12/13 on the theme of “Assessment”.
6.8 Admissions Update
TB presented Dave Laurenson’s summary presentation (see separate MS Powerpoint file).
6.9 Director of Research Business
Prof. Stefano Brandani (SB) noted that Prof. Mike Davies was the Deputy Director of Research
and would be Acting Director of Research during SB’s imminent work-related absence of two
SB thanked Prof. Robin Wallace for organising the EPSRC Review on October 25/26 and noted
that the University of Edinburgh had put on a ‘good show’.
SB had stopped sending individual emails regarding research calls and noted that information on
all calls for proposals was now contained in the weekly eBulletin circulated to all staff and PGR
RCUK has a freeze on budget (10% cut over 5 years) and in this scenario, each Research Council
was likely to fight with the others as to their individual cuts. Research Councils have also been
told to become more efficient by 30% and noted that there had already been staff cuts in NERC
However, EU budgets (FP7 and FP8) were set to grow but SB noted that it was important to
engage with the relevant HoRI and with the School Finance Office when planning an EU grant,
especially with regard to VAT issues as there was a limit in EU grants on VAT on equipment costs.
He noted that the CSE Dean of Research has a small budget to assist with the setting up of
SB reminded staff to discuss and have approval for grant funding proposals < £500k with HoRI
and those > £500k with both the HoRI and the Director of Research.
SB displayed a graph showing our success rates in EPSRC grant awards. He noted that the HoRI
and DoR reviews are essential in order to prevent individuals being ‘barred’ by EPSRC for too
many failed attempts. The advice is different now than previously when it was the norm to keep
resubmitting grant proposals until they were successful.
Research Excellence Framework: SB suggested that staff look at the website
www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref. It was important that staff knew what they would be required to
produce. He also advised staff to look at the section on “Impact” in particular.
6.10 PGR Business
Prof. David Ingram (DI) announced the provision of laboratory notebooks in the School; these had
been distributed free to all new PGR students on induction day. These comply with the guidelines
for documenting patentable work. He noted that students own their own intellectual property.
These notebooks would also be distributed to second and third year students. He noted that the
Supervisor needs to sign every page (this is a requirement for gaining a patent at a later date) and
this act would also help the School/University to comply with UKBA requirements regarding
DI announced that various grant awards and studentship competitions would be imminent; the first
deadline would be in January 2011. The basic requirement would be for the applicant to have a
good degree and to be top in their country of origin. He noted that some CSC scholarships had
been awarded which we would not have agreed with.
AFM announced that:
• Christmas drinks for staff and PGR students would take place on the afternoon of
December 21. An email invitation would be extended to all in due course.
• The School had featured strongly in the recent ERI publication “Infinite” as usual.