Sunday, 1 March 2009

Progress of the University

This is an update of recent action taken by the University re the Gaza crisis, and of action intended in the days ahead.

Through the SRC, the University held a fundraising day on 20 February. This was arranged as early as was possible and on a day when the Rector could be present to launch the event.  Participants in the occupation were disappointed with aspects of the fundraising, including the choice of a Friday, the dilution of DEC funds through the inclusion of a second charity, and the apparent low level of publicity by teaching staff.

Recognising these concerns, the University is willing to allow a second day of DEC fundraising to take place on campus.  This will not be promoted by the University, but colleagues with responsibility for access to buildings will be advised that they should cooperate in making the day a success.  Students proposing to coordinate the fundraising day should let David Newall know in good time when they plan to hold it.

The University has advised the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) that it would like to broadcast its international scholarships programme within Gaza.  In the coming weeks it will explore other ways of publicising the scholarships.

The University is also exploring a possible fundraising initiative that would be focused on providing an additional scholarship opportunity for students from Gaza.

Discussions have not yet taken place with other partners in the City of Glasgow.

Academic Resources
A stock of Library books has been identified as surplus to requirements, and the University is in discussion with Educational Aid for Palestinians to agree which books would be of value to Gaza.  It has also contacted King's College, LSE and IUG to ask for any advice on charitable or other vehicles that might be appropriate to ensure that aid gets to where it is needed.  Advice from students who participated in the occupation would be welcome.

It has not been possible to date to identify a way of sharing old IT equipment, largely because of concerns about the University's legal liability for material that may be held within it.  DN is going to explore this matter further with the University's IT Services.

Eden Springs
The University's position on Eden Springs is that it does not support withdrawing from the contract.  The contract is national (Scotland-wide) as negotiated by APUC, and it is possible that APUC will itself revisit the arrangements.  DN is opposed to withdrawing from Eden Springs, or to ceasing to place new orders with Eden Springs, because he believes this would be seen by the University community as an inappropriate, politically weighted decision.  If the students would like to make a submission setting out their argument for withdrawing from Eden Springs, DN is willing to share it with senior management colleagues who will be asked whether the University should reconsider its decision.

Freedom of Information Enquiry
The University intends to provide an informative response to David Campbell's FoI enquiry relating to the financial accounts.  Finance Office have found that they are unable to respond to the enquiry in the exact ternms it has been made without incurring significant clerical costs to pull together information.  The University is discussing with DC how best it can meet the information request without going to excessive cost.  Normally, a fee is levied where a large workload is required to meet an FoI request.  DN has confirmed that the University intends to do its best to comply with the information request without levying a fee.

Ethical Investment
The University Court is going to instigate a review of the University's ethical investment policy.  A review group, including student and trade union representation, will be established soon.  It is likely to report to the meeting of Court in early October 2009. The University's investment managers prepare an analysis three months in arrear of their portfolio of holdings.  The University is willing to share the most recent analysis.

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