UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN
JOINT PLANNING, FINANCE & ESTATES COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 3 MAY 2005
Present: Mr M Lockhead (Convener), Principal, Professor IR Booth, Professor N Haites,
Ms A Harper, Professor BD MacGregor, Dr M Mackie, Dr A Mair, Mr P Richards,
Professor AA Rodger; with Ms I Bews, Mr S Cannon, Mr A Donaldson, Professor
C Gane, Professor DF Houlihan, Dr PJ Murray and Ms K Atkinson (Clerk).
Apologies for absence were received from Professor SD Logan, Dr JG Roberts and
Professor W Cairns Smith
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
With regard to minute 75.2, Dr Mair, Mr Cannon and Ms Bews declared an interest as
Trustees of the University’s Superannuation and Life Assurance Scheme.
The minutes of meeting held on 8 March 2005 were approved.
72 MATTERS ARISING
72.1 RESIDENCES BUDGET ASSUMPTIONS AND FEES 2005/06
The Committee noted that the Court had approved residences fees for 2005/06.
72.2 TUITION AND MISCELLANEOUS FEES 2005/06
The Committee noted that the Court had approved tuition and miscellaneous fees for
72.3 INCREASE IN GOING RATES FOR ENTRY TO LAW IN 2007
The Committee noted that the Court had approved increased going rates for entry to LLB
programmes in 2007.
72.4 CENTRAL HEATING STATION
It was noted that the Court had considered the alternatives for the Central Heating Station
following receipt of tenders which had been significantly higher than the anticipated cost
approved in May 2004.
The Court had noted that the procedures followed in appointing the specialist consultants
had been reviewed, and that the appropriate due diligence had been undertaken. It had
been noted that legal advice had been taken with respect to pursuing financial
The Committee noted that Court had approved additional expenditure of £2.48 million for the
preferred option of a Combined Heat and Power system.
73 STRATEGY AND PLANNING
73.1 SUMMARY OF MAIN GRANTS IN SUPPORT OF TEACHING AND RESEARCH 2005-06
The Committee received a Summary of Main Grants in Support of Teaching and Research
73.2 ANALYSIS OF SHEFC LETTER HE/08/05
The Committee received and considered an analysis of SHEFC Circular Letter HE/08/05
(JPFE04-05:78) and noted that the University’s allocation of grant had increased by 3.9%
since 2004/05, 0.5% above the average increase across the sector. However, it was noted
that without the 74% increase in Knowledge Transfer Grant funding to £1.534million, the
University’s total funding increase would have been below the sector average.
The Committee noted that Universities were required, as a condition of grant, to devise and
implement strategies to address the Scottish Executive’s priorities for: (i) equality of
opportunity and fair access, (ii) continuous improvement of learning and teaching, (iii)
research and knowledge transfer, and (iv) human resources policies and management.
73.3 DRAFT UPDATE OF STRATEGIC PLAN 2004-2009
The Committee received and considered a Draft Update of the Institutional Strategic Plan
A number of amendments were suggested for incorporation. The revised draft would be
considered by Court before being brought back for formal approval in June 2005.
73.4 CROSS-BORDER STUDENT FLOWS: HIGHER EDUCATION TUITION FEE LEVELS
The Committee received a consultation paper on Cross-Border Student Flows: Higher
Education Tuition Fee Levels, together with a summary of the main issues (JPFE04-05:80).
The Scottish Executive was inviting comments on the introduction of higher general rates of
tuition fees in Scotland. The Committee noted that this issue had arisen due to the
introduction, from 2006, of “top-up” tuition fees in England when HEIs would be able to
charge UK/EU students up to £3000 per year for their programmes of study. The paper noted
a concern that opportunity for Scottish-domiciled students could be reduced if no change
were made to the fee arrangements in Scotland.
The Committee discussed the potential consequences for Scottish-domiciled students,
Scottish Universities and, more specifically, the University of Aberdeen of (i) the introduction
of higher tuition fees in England, and (ii) the Scottish Executive’s subsequent reaction.
The Committee noted that the University’s recruitment and admissions strategy would be
responsive to changes in the market.
The Committee noted that an institutional response was under preparation for submission to
the Executive by 30 May 2005 and would be made available to the Committee at its June
74 RESEARCH AND COLLABORATION
The Committee received an update on collaboration (JPFE04-05:81):
Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability (ACES)
The Committee noted that a revised Strategic Research Development Grant bid had been
submitted to the Funding Council for ACES. The first stage of the project would be to
strengthen collaboration between the three partners; with the second stage possibly involving
the relocation of staff to an ACES facility at the Macaulay Institute, depending upon NERC’s
Rowett Research Institute
The Committee noted that discussions were continuing at a number of levels between the
University and the Rowett Institute with a view to developing a number of possible models of
Fisheries Research Services
The Committee noted that discussions were continuing with the Fisheries Research Services.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions was under preparation.
75 FINANCE AND RESOURCES
75.1 REVENUE BUDGETS 2005/06 TO 2007/08
The Committee received a progress update on Revenue Budgets 2005/06 to 2007/08
(JPFE04-05:82) and noted that detailed budgets would be brought forward in June 2005 for
75.2 UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN SUPERANNUATION & LIFE ASSURANCE SCHEME UPDATE
The Committee received an paper on the current status of the UASLAS pension scheme
The Committee, for its part, approved recommendations: (i) that the overall contribution rate
of UASLAS be increased to 23.1% from 1 August 2005; (ii) that the University contribution
rate be increased from 13.5% to 17.1% from 1 August 2005; (iii) that Human Resources, in
taking forward the Scheme rule amendment with the members, consider an increase to the
employee contribution rate along with the introduction of a salary sacrifice scheme; and (iv)
that a full option appraisal be taken forward in considering the future of UASLAS. Options
under consideration would range from maintaining the current scheme to the possibility of
merging with USS. Any increase in salary should be considered against the impact it might
have on pension funding, in particular where the increase is ahead of the pension scheme
assumptions. A report would be brought back to the Committee in June 2005.
75.3 MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTS FOR THE EIGHT MONTHS ENDING 31 MARCH 2005
The Committee received copies of the Monthly Management Accounts for the eight months
ending 31 March 2005.
It was noted that the accounts for the period currently showed an historical cost surplus of
£3.701 million against a budgeted surplus of £1.312 million, a favourable variance of £2.389
76 ESTATES AND CAPITAL
76.1 INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND CASH FLOW PLANNING
The Committee received and considered a paper setting out the 10-year infrastructure
investment plan for the University and the strategy for financing this investment (JPFE04-
05:84). (see Minute 76.2.1 below)
It was noted that projects would continue to be considered via the current approval process,
subject to satisfactory business case and risk assessment. Further consideration would be
given to planning for the replacement of capital equipment.
The Committee, for its part, approved, in principle, the recommendations set out in the paper.
76.2 CAPITAL EXPENDITURE SUB-COMMITTEE
The Committee received a report from the Capital Expenditure Sub-Committee meeting, held
on 14 April 2005 (JPFE04-05:85), as under:
76.2.1 Infrastructure Investment and Cashflow Planning
The Committee noted that the Sub-Committee had, for its part, approved a paper on
infrastructure investment and cashflow planning. (see Minute 76.1 above)
The institutional infrastructure plan, which had been developed in consultation with the
Colleges, identified projects totalling an estimated £217 million over the ten-year period from
The paper identified which projects would be funded by SHEFC under the Science Research
Infrastructure Fund (SRIF) 3 in 2006/07 – 2007/08 and the Learning and Teaching
Infrastructure Fund (LTIF) in 2005/06. The Sub-Committee had agreed that the Central
Heating Station would be submitted as a reserve project.
The plan proposed the arrangement of additional loan facilities of up to £20 million, to
minimise borrowing costs through consolidation with current loans. The proposed level of
borrowing would be relatively low for a University of this size, and would allow flexibility to be
The Sub-Committee had noted the assumptions on which the plan had been based and
recognised that any change in these would be likely to result in either (a) projects being
postponed or (b) an increased borrowing requirement.
76.2.2 Capital Programme 2004/05
The Committee noted that the Sub-Committee had received a report on capital expenditure
for the period ending 31 March 2005 and had noted that, although the timing of som e
projects had changed, there were no major issues.
The Sub-Committee had also received a summary report showing funding sources against
budgets and actual expenditure to date in order to highlight any potential variances.
76.2.3 SHEFC Further Allocation of Additional Capital Funds
The Committee noted that SHEFC had recently allocated the University additional funds of
£418,500 to support the modernisation of its teaching infrastructure. The funding would be
used for works in the William Guild Building.
76.2.4 Health Sciences Enterprise Unit
The Committee noted that discussions with Scottish Enterprise Grampian were ongoing
regarding the proposed Health Services Enterprise Unit at the Foresterhill Site.
76.2.5 Project Board Reports
The Committee was informed that the Sub-Committee had received Project Board Reports
and noted that the Student Centred Facility, Marischal College, Cruickshank Building and
Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) were all progressing, some ahead of programme
The principal points reported in relation to other projects were noted as follows: -
The Committee noted that a revised planning application had been submitted for the
redevelopment of Marischal College. It was anticipated that Aberdeen City Council would
approve its accommodation strategy in June 2005.
The Committee noted that the refurbishment of the MacRobert Building was behind
programme but remained within budget. Plans were in place to commence the decant of the
Hilton site in early July, for completion during August 2005.
It was noted that, in January 2005, Aberdeen City Council Planning Committee had deferred
consideration of the planning application for the Hilton Site. A revised scheme, which went
some way to addressing their concerns, would be submitted by the developer. Negotiations
regarding the sale financial settlement were ongoing.
The Committee noted that the University was pressing to formalise 30 June 2005 as the
deadline date for the Stage 2 bid to Sportscotland. An external project manager had been
appointed to take the project forward and manage the development stage.
Institute of Applied Health Sciences 2
The Committee noted that construction work on the Institute of Applied Health Sciences 2
was scheduled to start on 3 May 2005.
The Committee noted that the missive had been completed on the Dunbar Site and the
purchaser was required to lodge a planning application in May 2005. The feasibility study for
Crombie Johnston was progressing.
Old Aberdeen Town House
The Committee noted that the Town House project was significantly behind programme, and
that this would have budget implications. Investigations were underway with the City Council
to ascertain the extent of the delay and to understand the reasons for it. Assurances would
be sought that the completion date would not slip any further and that budget issues would
The Committee noted that, due to unforeseen asbestos-removal work, the project was four
weeks behind schedule. It was not anticipated that the completion date of the project would
be adversely affected.
77 RISK MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE REMIT AND COMPOSITION
The Committee received and approved the updated remit and composition of the Risk
Management Committee (JPFE04-05:86), following an internal audit recommendation to
expand the remit to identify clearly the role of the Committee.
78 INVESTMENT COMMITTEE REPORT
The Committee received, for information, a brief summary on the Investment Committee
meeting held on 15 March 2005 (JPFE04-05:87).
79 OPERATIONAL PLAN 2005/06
The Committee noted that the updated Operational Plan was now available at
www.abdn.ac.uk/admin/operational-plan.shtml, or on request from the Court and Planning Office.
80 UNDERGRADUATE RECRUITMENT REPORT
The Committee received, for information, a report on Undergraduate and Professional
Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) admissions for 2005 entry as at 25 April 2005
81 POSTGRADUATE ADMISSIONS REPORT
The Committee received, for information, a report on Postgraduate admissions as at 1 April
82 FULL ECONOMIC COSTING
The Committee received, for information, a paper on the allocation of additional funding
under the full economic costing methodology for research (JPFE04-05:90). The University
had been allocated £972,000 for the year April 2005 to March 2006, which would be
accounted for as £324,000 in 2004/05 and £648,000 in 2005/06.
83 PAPERS FOR INFORMATION
The Committee noted that the following papers were available on request from the Court &
Planning Office (ext 2016)
(i) UCEA Health and Safety Seminars: UCEA Update 05/02 advertising two seminars on
the health and safety responsibilities of Heads of Institution, Chairs of Governing
Bodies and Senior Managers, to take place in Edinburgh on 5 May 2005 and in
London on 13 May 2005.
(ii) SHEFC Corporate Plan 2003-06: Update: SHEFC Circular Letter FE/06/05 updating
the Councils’ joint corporate plan.
(iii) Equality and Diversity Impact Assessment.
(iv) Scottish Executive’s Response to the Lambert Review: A summary of action points
from the Scottish Executive’s response to the Lambert Review on Business –
Note: The full report was available on request from Research & Innovation (ext
(v) UASLAS Trustees Annual Report,
(vi) SHEFC Corporate Plan Update: SHEFC Circular Letter HE/05/05.
84 DATE OF NEXT MEETING
The Committee noted that its next meeting would be held on Tuesday, 14 June 2005 at
85 SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS: SESSION 2005-06
The Committee noted its schedule of meetings for session 2005-06, as follows:
Tuesday, 4 October 2005
Wednesday, 23 November 2005
Wednesday, 25 January 2006
Tuesday, 7 March 2006
Tuesday, 9 May 2006
Tuesday, 13 June 2006
All meetings would be held from 11.00 am – 12.30 pm in the Court Room.
Note by Clerk: The dates for the November and January meetings as identified above differ
from those detailed in the main University Committee schedule.