Revitalising University democracy

The existing structures of University governance can be important avenues to open up decision-making across the University – if they are valued and re-energised as sites of university democracy. One such site is the University’s Faculty Boards. A recent proposal to dissolve Faculty Boards was not successful, but does provide an opportunity to raise awareness about the role of Faculty Boards in the University’s governance structure (especially since the proposal to dissolve Faculty Boards may come up again).

Any member of a Faculty can attend their Board and put items on the agenda, but because the dates of meetings and the process for bringing items to the agenda are not widely publicised, Faculty Boards are seen primarily as places where decisions made at a higher level are filtered down, and where only appointed ‘representatives’ are welcome, rather than where recommendations for discussion and action can be put forward, debated, and moved up the University structure by all members of a Faculty. There is no reason this situation should continue. Members of Faculties can use the Boards as platforms for engendering more open debate and discussion about university policy and practice, from progression and promotion to the demand from the Home Office to increase scrutiny of migrant students. A key part of revitalising University democracy is to re-energise Faculty Boards by widely publicizing the dates of upcoming meetings and encouraging a more open conversation about the structures of governance and communication at the University, especially where members feel the existing structures are not working.

Below are upcoming Faculty Board dates. The details of membership (available online for only some Faculties) are worth reading. Membership, where detailed, includes a wider range of staff than many may have assumed and includes research, teaching and admin staff, as well as student representatives. All the more reason to attend your Faculty’s board, to ask questions, and to participate in the existing possibilities for University democracy – and perhaps begin to create new ones!

SCIENCE
12 May 2011, 2-4pm, Hepple, Geographical Sciences
http://www.bristol.ac.uk/science/committees/  for details of membership, responsibilities, procedures

SOCIAL SCIENCES AND LAW
15 June 2011, 2-4pm, Boardroom, Bristol Institute of Public Affairs (BIPA)

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/fssl/current-staff/facultycommittees/faccommsch.html#FB  for dates

ENGINEERING
11 May, 4pm, PLT QB

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/staff/ for Faculty Diary with Board Dates and http://www.bristol.ac.uk/engineering/staff/termsreference.html  for membership details.

ARTS
11 May 2011, 2:15pm, LT3, 17 Woodland Road

29 June 2011, 2:25pm, LT3, 17 Woodland Road

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/  to login to Staff Area to access Board calendar and membership details.

MED AND VET
18 May, 2:15pm, Churchill Seminar Room, Langford

13 July, 2:15pm, Senate Room, Senate House

http://www.bristol.ac.uk/fmvs/currentstaff/facultycommittees/  for details of membership and Board dates

MED AND DENT
Dates not available on Faculty’s website.

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