Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.
Established in May 2018, the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) was established to examine the 2017 valuation of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and has recently asked universities for their views on improvements that could be made to the valuation process and governance.
Submission to the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) – Second Phase
In response, the University has called for greater openness and transparency in the valuation process. It has also called for the views of all interested parties to be considered and to avoid discussions on a rolling three-year basis.
The University’s response was prepared in consultation with the University’s USS Actuarial Valuation Technical Group.
The Technical Group, chaired by the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen Holford, was established to help engage a wide variety of university stakeholders.
Over the last year, the Group has met with Bill Galvin, Group CEO at USS, and engaged the services of an independent actuary to inform a response on behalf of the University and its USS members to the first phase of the JEP’s work.
Also included in the University’s response to the second phase is a letter from Dr Woon Wong from Cardiff Business School who has written to the Pensions Regulator questioning the USS deficit.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen Holford said: “I am extremely grateful to members of our Technical Group who’ve contributed and shaped the University’s response.
“It was clear from the Technical Group’s discussions that there is a need for greater transparency and discussion with all parties.
“It’s essential we find a long-term and sustainable way forward for the USS pension scheme that meets the needs of employees and employers alike.
“This collaborative approach, I believe, will help us achieve this objective.”
The University’s response to the call for submissions and a copy of Dr Wong’s letter is available here.
UUK consultation on proposal for a contingent contribution structure
The University has also published its response to UUK’s consultation on the 2018 USS valuation assumptions and proposals for a contingent contribution structure.
In February 2019, the USS Trustees set out a framework for contingent contributions to support the employer covenant and AON were appointed by UUK to develop proposals.
AON have proposed a Trigger Metric that would only be implemented if there has been a “significant deterioration” in the financial position of the Scheme.
This would result in contingent contributions of 1%, 2% or 3% being paid to the Trustee after a 6 month notice period and would only apply until the next valuation in 2021.
AON have based their proposal on a range of total contributions of 29.2% to 32.2% of salary, dependent on contingent contributions.
In response, the University renews its call for greater transparency in the assumptions adopted by the Trustees. However, whilst questioning whether contingent contributions are necessary when the Scheme has triennial valuations, it pragmatically supports the contingent contribution proposals to hopefully enable the changes to be implemented in October 2019.
The University’s response was agreed by the University’s Executive Board (UEB) on 11 March.
The full response can be found here.
UUK will now collate responses from employers and submit a collective response to USS next month.
USS remains one of the largest private pension schemes in the UK and is the principal scheme for academic and comparable staff in UK universities and other higher education and research institutions.
Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.
Thank you for your open letter referring to Professor Dinesh Bhugra’s report examining issues of Racial Equality at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, published in January 2017, and the actions taken thereafter.
I would like to take this opportunity to stress the University’s commitment to an ongoing dialogue about race. We, therefore, welcome the feedback that you have provided to us. We want to reassure you that it is the firm view of Council that racism and discrimination have no place in modern society. We all have a responsibility to build a sense of common purpose towards social justice.
Council fully supported the University’s decision to commission the independent review, which looked at the whole University and not just the School of Medicine, and to accept all of its 13 recommendations. A dedicated Equality and Diversity Project Officer was recruited to oversee the work as part of a wider equality team. In addition the University has appointed a Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion who has taken forward the race equality agenda as part of the role. A full report on progress was presented to Council on 9 July 2018 and Council has been pleased to see clear and demonstrable action against each recommendation. At every possible opportunity the University has involved the students affected and included them in the process of change. I am happy to make the full report on our actions available and would also like to reassure you that our commitment is ongoing.
The independent review for Cardiff University was as much about addressing the culture at Cardiff University as it was about responding to an incident, recognising that in order to shape meaningful change, the University needed to engage openly with the race equality agenda.
Extensive training sessions on equality and diversity have been undertaken within the School of Medicine, with positive feedback. Further, the School worked with an external reconciliation organization, Wales Restorative Approach Partnership (WRAP) to develop a programme of support and reconciliation for the affected year group. The University has also established a Race Equality Supervisory Panel to provide appropriate advice on any race related incidents that arise. Racial inequalities are a sector-wide issue that universities need to recognise and address through meaningful collaboration with students and staff.
As indicated in the open letter, the University is currently working with the Vice-President for Welfare to develop a BME Student Support Plan. This includes the convening of a peer support BME student focus group with the aim of developing sustainable approaches that promote better health, wellbeing, mental health and transition to university. It also includes training on peer led bystander training and further EDI training. We are also proposing to create a culturally diverse events calendar for our Residence Life programme, including celebrations for religious based holidays and BME national awareness events.
I am also pleased to report that the Vice-Chancellor provided funding to support Black History month.
Throughout this difficult period the University has sought to support the complainants and to commend them for their courage in coming forward. We take allegations of racism extremely seriously and urge any student or member of staff to raise any concerns via our formal complaints procedure.
In relation to the request to publish the 32 student letters of apology we have made it clear throughout the process that this is not possible due to Data Protection and Fitness to Practise regulations. However, we did ensure that all complainants were provided with a supported opportunity to read the letters of apology.
I would like to end this response by reassuring BME students that they are welcome and valued at Cardiff University. We constantly strive to be a diverse and inclusive community.
I would like to give the last word to Professor Bhugra who commented in 2017: “The University should be commended for taking such a proactive step and its commitment to independent scrutiny, openness and transparency. It has been a complex situation which the School of Medicine and the University responded to in a fair and suitable manner…we are encouraged by the extremely positive way the University – at all levels – engaged with our work and its clear commitment to equality and diversity.”
I endorse the above sentiments and look forward to continuing our work in this area.
Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.
The article ‘Britons lose out to rush of foreign medical students’ (Sunday 10th March, 2019) is not only inaccurate, it’s misleading and could potentially damage the reputation of many UK medical schools.
In the case of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, the graph that accompanied the story on-line claims that 81% of our medical students are “non-UK students”. This is simply incorrect and we cannot fathom how official Higher Education Statistics Agency data has been used to paint such an inaccurate picture.
Like most UK medical schools, we are capped at 7.5% for overseas students studying medicine. In Cardiff University’s case, this is set and monitored by the Welsh Government. Therefore the suggestion that UK and/or Welsh students are missing out on places is simply bizarre.
To be absolutely clear: whilst we welcome and celebrate the diversity that international students bring to our University the overwhelming majority of students who study medicine at Cardiff University are from the UK.
Like most medical schools we are acutely aware of our social responsibility to educate and train doctors for the UK. Many medical schools have developed widening access schemes to ensure that people across the social spectrum have an opportunity to study medicine.
May we suggest that instead of penning inaccurate and unhelpful stories, The Sunday Times concentrates its efforts on encouraging talented students, from as many diverse communities as possible, to apply to study medicine.
I would be very happy to welcome any of your journalists to Cardiff to meet our students and consider what more can be done.
Professor David J Wilson
Director of Admissions and Recruitment
Cardiff University School of Medicine
Professor Stephen Riley
Dean of Medical Education
Cardiff University School of Medicine
Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.
Thank you for your letter regarding the “Transforming Cardiff” programme, which I received by email on the 14th February 2019.
I welcome student engagement on Transforming Cardiff. However, I am deeply disappointed that the reassurance from both myself and the Chair of Council that the paper presented to University Council contained a framework of ideas, on which we will now extensively consult, has not clarified the situation for you. I hope very much that you will engage as we take the ideas forward. As you rightly observe, student input is going to be very important.
As the paper makes clear, Transforming Cardiff will enable us to deliver on The Way Forward 2018-23 in a way that is innovative and financially sustainable. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the commitments to students in The Way Forward sub-strategy on education and students. We committed to “work in partnership with our students to take them on an inspiring educational journey that will develop their leadership skills and prepare them for the world of work, enabling them to participate fully in society and enrich their lives.”
We also committed to “ensuring a high quality and consistent student experience, attracting well-qualified and motivated students who will benefit from and contribute to our excellent research and learning environment. We will provide a high quality, flexible learning environment alongside excellent student services.”
In support of the above, we set ourselves challenging Key Performance Indicators around student satisfaction and clear student-focused objectives, including to:
- create a Centre for Student Life to deliver efficient, effective and transformational services to our students
- offer all students the opportunity to undertake a work placement during the course of their studies
- ensure that all students receive regular, timely and useful feedback on their academic progress
- ensure that our students are challenged, stretched and supported in their studies to achieve to the full extent of their ability
- listen to our students, and use their feedback to improve our teaching and the wider student experience
- continue to develop our physical and digital learning environments to support independent and collaborative learning.
Transforming Cardiff is designed to enable us to fulfil these commitments, placing the student experience and student satisfaction at the heart of our endeavours.
I now come to your specific concerns.
1.Protection of students on courses or modules set for closure.
We do not yet have any firm proposals for the closure of courses. However, we do have clear policies in place to protect students should this occur. The University has a contractual obligation to deliver a programme of study as promised to both prospective students who have been made an offer (this is when the contract is issued) and to students who are currently pursuing a programme. Not doing so would be a breach of contract.
The procedure to be followed to discontinue a programme is detailed in the University’s Programme Approval Policy (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/public-information/quality-and-standards/programme-approval).
In the event of the discontinuation of a specific programme, the University would implement a ‘Teach Out Plan’ to ensure that students on the programme complete the programme, receive a comparable student experience to any previous cohorts, and that academic standards are maintained.
A ‘Teach Out Plan’ would consider specific arrangements for courses in which there is collaborative provision, as well as arrangements for the potential interruption of study, placement years or the repeating of modules. A ‘Teach Out Plan’ would be continuously monitored to ensure that the impact is minimised until all students have completed the programme.
The discontinuation of specific modules, and indeed the offering of new modules, are part of our business as usual activities. Again, in relation to our contractual obligations, we could not nor would not close modules currently being undertaken by students.
I hope the above policy reassures you.
2.Student support services
We are committed to excellent student support services and I hope you will engage in the development of ideas around student hubs, as well as other ideas aimed at improving our student services. Our current thinking is that student hubs could work well alongside the Centre for Student Life, and will enable us to further improve the education service for our students and staff. Student hubs would draw together processes from across schools and professional services to provide a single front-line enquiry service and point of contact for students and staff for all education support matters. Student hubs would be strategically placed across the campus, aligned to our academic schools, near to our students and will work in conjunction with the Centre for Student Life to provide a single service that is consistent and excellent. Student hubs will be co-created by academic and professional services staff and will take account of specific disciplinary needs. Our plans will be developed in consultation with students.
I believe that student hubs are an exciting idea and I am keen to explore them further with staff and students. Again, your constructive input, and that of other students, will be most welcome.
You will also be aware that there is already £5m currently being invested in the student support service redesign underway as part of the Centre for Student Life project. I am keen to ensure we are sector leaders in relation to our student support services.
Transforming Cardiff will be taken forward under a robust governance framework that will include risk assessments for all the work packages. The risk register will be monitored, appropriately, by University Council.
4. Staff workload
As you will know from the extensive discussions at Council, Transforming Cardiff is a carefully managed and phased programme that will work alongside the timeline for The Way Forward 2018-23. Both the University Executive Board and Council listened carefully to concerns about workload and moved away from a shorter time frame.
I would also like to make you aware of the work we have been doing on academic workload more generally, and to reassure you that this will continue to be a priority. We are committed to working with all the members of the University community, including the recognised campus trade unions, to operate a fair and transparent framework for allocating workloads across the University.
We have adopted a Workload Allocation Model in order to do this, accompanied by a Workload Policy. These were developed following an extensive period of consultation with the trade unions.
The Workload Policy is designed to provide a systematic approach to academic workload allocation and to assist the University to address its obligations in managing the health and safety of its staff, particularly with regard to stress, well-being and work-life balance.
We want to establish clear evidence that will support parity, consistency and fairness of treatment in the allocation of work to all academic staff, taking account of discipline-specific characteristics.
However, we recognise that there are always areas for further improvement. That is why, following feedback from academic staff, Heads of School, School Managers, and the trade unions, we are currently undertaking a review of the workload allocation model. The review aims to streamline the workload modelling framework; make the model more representative of how our academic staff spend their time and; improve how the system is administered to make it easier and quicker for staff involved.
On your point about PGR students, our code of practice for PGR teaching at Cardiff clearly states that a PGR’s engagement in teaching should always be secondary to their primary purpose of completing their research programme, and the hours allocated are limited so as not to impede academic progress.
5. International students
You will be aware that the International Student Journey Partnership Project has brought together colleagues from across the Students’ Union, Professional Services and Schools to consider the international student experience, with the aim of working together to identify ways in which we can further support this important cohort of students. As one of the joint chairs of the project, you agreed that the project would include the production of a video showcasing international students’ experience which could be used to inform and raise awareness among staff at the University about international student perceptions. I understand that colleagues from the Student Engagement team, the Students’ Union and our Advice and Money service are facilitating three workshops on 25th February, looking at the experiences of our international students on undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research programmes.
Student Support have also recruited additional staff to oversee the delivery of University-wide projects that specifically support students transitioning into university life in the UK. Whilst not confined solely to international students, a significant aspect is aimed at making improvements to the transition to university for our international students, including enhanced international induction programmes, supplemented by additional in-year engagement. Student support colleagues are already working closely with the Students’ Union in addition to other key areas of the University (the International Office; Student Engagement; Development and Alumni Relations; and Marketing and Communications), and with external stakeholders, to further improve the support provided to our International students. We are committed to working with our international students and with colleagues to ensure that they are well supported throughout their studies and achieve successful outcomes.
We are developing a work plan for Transforming Cardiff. In that we will set out our plans for wide consultation and engagement opportunities for students, staff and other stakeholders. To be clear, we were not in a position to consult widely until Council were satisfied with the direction of travel.
I look forward to your engagement on Transforming Cardiff in the future.
A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “Malcolm Anderson’s untimely death touched the lives of so many people.
“The continued tributes from University colleagues and students are testimony to how highly regarded he was to all who knew him.
"He was a committed, dedicated and well-liked member of University staff. We offer our heartfelt condolences to Malcom Anderson's family; our thoughts remain with them at this most poignant time.
"Out of respect to Malcolm and his family the University feels that it is not appropriate to comment publicly on this individual case."
“In respect to other issues around workload the University takes the welfare of its staff extremely seriously.
"We are committed to working with all the members of the University community, including the recognised trade unions, to ensure the welfare of our staff.
“Over the last four years we have been seeking to establish a fair and transparent framework for allocating workloads.
"Following feedback from academic staff, we are currently undertaking a review of the Workload Allocation Model. This will provide an opportunity for staff to express their views."