Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)UB/COU/1
TitleMinutes of University of Birmingham Council
Extent115 volumes
DescriptionMinute books of University Council containing minutes of meetings from 13 June 1900, the first meeting of this body, to 25 April 2017. Minutes are signed and confirmed up to and including the meeting held on 11 April 2001. Minutes after this date are not signed

University Council met on a monthly basis during the academic year until 1976, when the body was reconstituted. After this date there were usually four meetings each year. Agendas are included from the late 1970s, together with copies of the minutes of the preceeding meeting. Reserved business was introduced, and items discussed in this section of the meeting were given a separate numbering sequence with an 'RB' prefix. Minutes are stored in chronological order from 1900 to January 1981 when they began to be filed in reverse chronological order. Minutes of University Council are numbered in a single numerical sequence. After Council was reconstituted in 1976, a new single numerical sequence was introduced, with numbers starting again from 1. From 1994, the numbering of minutes ceases to be a single numerical sequence; minutes are numbered by year, and then within each year are numbered consecutively.

Although the first meeting was held on 13 June 1900, Mason University College Council continued to exist until its final meeting on 26 September 1900. The first meeting of the first academic session of the new University of Birmingham was held on 1 October 1900. Minutes are handwritten with typed or printed reports pasted into the minute book volumes until the meeting held on 6 October 1920. Minutes for business discussed at this meeting are recorded in UB/COU/1/14 in handwritten format and summarised in typed format in UB/COU/1/15. Loose printed reports of committees reporting to Council are included from this point, or are pasted in.

The first meeting confirms the resolutions of the Court of Governors to appoint the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Treasurer, and Auditor, and records discussion about the transfer of funds for the endowment of the university. Members also discussed the appointment of Sir Oliver Lodge as Principal, and his letter of acceptance of the post is entered in the minutes, setting out his understanding of the conditions on which he accepted. Lodge's salary was discussed, and the minutes state that Council expected him to accept full responsibility for the organisation of the new university and relations between Council and the staff. Lodge attended the second meeting of Council on 6 July 1900 at which the Deans of the Faculties of Science and Arts were appointed. All professors and other members of the teaching staff and all officers, other than the Registrar, and servants of Mason University College were transferred to the same offices and places in the University of Birmingham on 30 September 1900. The Vice-Principal of Mason University College, Robert Heath, was appointed Registrar of the new University of Birmingham.

Committees reporting to Council from 1900 were Senate; a General Purposes committee, established to prepare an appeal for an annual grant for the university, and also to consider the question of obtaining a grant of arms and the preparation of a seal; a Finance and Estates committe; a Library committee; and an Advisory Board to deal with the report of the Advisory committee which had been appointed on 31 August 1899. Reports of the Advisory Board are included in Council minutes, and these contain information about the process of obtaining tender for fencing the new site for University buildings at Bournbrook and of arrangements for the construction of University road. The Advisory Board was dissolved and a University Buildings committee was constituted on 6 February 1901, and the first report of this committee was presented to Council on 6 March 1901. Printed reports were pasted into the Council minutes from 2 October 1901, with occasional subsequent reversions to handwritten reports. Regular reports of this committee were submitted to Council while the main construction work was taking place at Edgbaston, but the committee only seems to have met once a year by 1912.
Reports of the Senate were first recorded as handwritten transcripts within Council minutes, but exist as printed pages pasted into the minute books from 7 November 1900. Senate recommendations encompass examination and term marks, the appointment of external examiners, the selection of hospitals for clinical training of medical students, staff appointments and increases to staff salaries and wages, the establishment of scholarships, and revisions to the regulations for the award of degrees and scholarships. Senate reports sometimes include reports from Faculty Boards for consideration by Council, usually on particular issues such as the conduct of examinations or the offer of new courses. Senate report to Council for 5 June 1901 mentions the report of the Committee of Principals and Deans, but the first surviving volume of minutes of this committee dates from 1902.
Senate reports to Council often included copies of job advertisements and job descriptions, and in the 1950s and 1960s also contain curriculum vitae for successful candidates. Senate reports sometimes included mention of Discipline committee decisions about individual, named students, and into the 1990s Senate reports to Council sometimes include reports of the Discipline committee. No separate minutes of this committee survive.
Reports of the General Purposes committee are first included in minutes from 26 July 1900. The committee discussed the annual grant to the university and the appointment of representative governors of local grammar schools. It also prepared draft ordinances, with the Senate, mentioned at the Council meeting held on 15 May 1901, and regulations for the Court of Governors, discussed at the meeting held on 7 May 1902. The function of the General Purposes committee in these early years is stated as being to give initial consideration to, and advise on, any other business of particular importance or complexity. It seems to have ceased functioning by 1903.
Reports of the Finance and Estates committee are first included in the Council minutes from 7 November 1900. Early reports discuss work required to alter premises at Edmund Street for Sir Oliver Lodge, as Principal. They also deal with the lease of premises, mortgages, and the purchase of stock. Some issues relating to salaries and departmental grants were referred to the Finance and Estates committee by Council. Printed reports of this committee are pasted into the Council minutes from 6 February 1901, and these include balance sheets and income and expenditure accounts presented to Council from 1901. The committee was responsible for the annual inspection of University buildings, grants to academic departments, managing the city council's annual grant to the university, the receipt of funds for scholarships and the investment of those funds, the management of stocks and shares, managing leases of property and land owned by the university, and dealing with student fees. Senate applied to Council for increased wages for academic staff, and proposals were then put to the Finance and Estates committee for consideration, on the Council's recommendation. The wages paid to all staff, including very junior staff in academic departments such as laboratory boys, as well as servants, cleaners, and maintenance staff, are usually listed in reports of this committee, often including names of individuals, certainly until the Second World War period. The Finance and Estates committee made recommendations to Council regarding wage increases, for approval. Reports of the Finance and Estates committee from the early twentieth century sometimes contain references to very minor expenses such as the purchase of filing cabinets and hat stands, as well as major purchases of equipment or spending on the construction of buildings.
Reports of the Library committee are first referred to in Council minutes from 5 December 1900, with the recommendation that the internal management of the Library, the purchase of books, and general affairs should be remitted to the Senate, which was instructed to appoint a Library committee. Senate presented quarterly accounts of the Library committee to Council for approval
Decisions of the Court of Governors are recorded in the Council minutes, from 6 February 1901, after the first yearly meeting of Court. The Report of the Principal to Council is first included in the minutes from 18 December 1901, for the first session of the University, 1900-1901. There are references to the Principal's Report in minutes of meetings over the next few years, and issues arising from it were referred to the relevant committees, but copies of the Report itself are not included again until the Report for the academic session 1907-1908 appears with minutes of the Council meeting held on 20 January 1909. From this date onwards copies of the Principal's Report are usually included. Minutes of Council meetings held during the period before 1914 often refer to significant financial donations by individuals and record gifts to the university of equipment, specimens and exhibits for departmental museums, offers of machinery to equip the engineering and science workshops in the new buildings at Edgbaston, and individual bequests and the use of money bequeated to the university. Discussion of bequests remains a feature of Council business into the post 1945 period.

Council minutes, together with supporting papers and reports of its committees, university facilities, and of individual officers contain substantial information about a wide range of activities relating to the management and operation of the university. Council set term dates for academic sessions and fees for examinations, approved the establishment of university scholarships, confirmed staff appointments, controlled the use of university buildings by societies, professional groups and conferences, confirmed alterations, additions and changes to the constitution and bye-laws of the Guild of Undergraduates, later the Guild of Students, and authorised the organisation of commemorative events within the university. Because it was ultimately responsible for the management of the University's finances, minutes include copies of correspondence from the Treasury about the annual grant to the institution, and correspondence and papers concerning the University's submissions to the University Grants Committee and its successors the Universities Funding Council and the Higher Education Funding Council for England [HEFCE]. Early minutes include Matriculation examination pass lists, and Senate reports to Council include pass lists for degree courses, including postgraduate degrees. Minutes also include tables giving statistical information for the registration of students at the start of each session, in each Faculty, with some comparision made with numbers registered at other universities, to the mid 1960s
Council minutes from October 1914 onwards, following the outbreak of the First World War, include copies of letters of resignation from staff enlisting for service in the army, navy, or ambulance corps. Reports of the Reconstruction committee are included in Council minutes from 1919, recording repairs to buildings at Edgbaston after evacuation of the buildings there by the War Office, which had taken over the site for use as the 1st Southern General military hospital. Reports of the University Research committee to Council are included from 7 June 1922, and the minutes contain reports of the Joint Standing Committee for Research from 6 December 1922. Minutes of meetings held during the late 1920s and early 1930s typically include reports of the Lodgings committee, Refectories committee, University Grounds committee, and Military Education committee in addition to reports of Senate and the Finance and Estates committee, renamed Finance and General Purposes committee from 1927. Minutes of meetings from the 1910s to the 1940s often contain annual reports of the Joint Committee of the University of Birmingham and the Workers' Educational Association, including annual accounts.
Minutes of meetings held during the Second World War include reports of, or references to, business discussed at Air Raid Precautions committee meetings, and there are references to reports of the Developments committee, established to manage post-war reconstruction and development of the University and its buildings. Reports of this committee are sometimes included in the minutes, together with reports of the Developments Appeals committee which was responsible for fund raising for capital projects. Minutes continue to include reports of the Lodgings committee and then of the Lodgings Warden until 1976, and regular reports of the Military Education committee, renamed the West Midlands Military Education committee in 1978, are also included on an annual basis to the present day.

Senate reports from the late 1950s included reports, and details of funds granted by the University Research committee. Council minutes from 1955 include reports of the Planning and Priorites committee which replaced the Developments committee, and minutes of the Works and Maintenance committee from 1955 to 1962, both of which provide substantial information about the development of the Edgbaston campus during this period and about individual buildings under planning and construction. A 1962 decision to reduce the Council agenda resulted in the delegation of some decisions about finance to the Finance and General Purposes committee, including recommendations of the Works and Maintenance committee, and Council received general progress reports only from this committee after this date. In 1957 Council delegated considerable responsibility to the Finance and General Purposes committee, which meant that it could operate as an Executive of Council, with a number of sub-committees reporting to it. In practice, all the main Council committees except the Planning and Priorities committee also reported to the Finance and General Purposes committee. The Works and Maintenance committee submitted progress reports directly to Council but reported to the Finance and General Purposes committee on other matters.

Council minutes from 1939 onwards include annual reports of the Director of Physical Education, and the University Medical Officer submitted a report to Council from 1945 onwards, later appearing as part of reports of the University Health Service committee and then the Student Welfare committee from 1986, which also contained overviews of services for overseas students and students with disabilities. Council minutes received annual Reports on Student Welfare from 1991 after the abolition of the Student Welfare committee.
Reports of the Halls of Residence committee are included from the 1950s to the 1970s, and reports of the Committee of Principals and Deans began to be routinely included with Council minutes from 1950. Several other committees presented reports to Council from the 1950s onwards, though a number of these were later reconstituted as sub-committees of the Finance and General Purposes committee or of the Senate. Council minutes contain annual reports of the Careers Board from 1975 onwards, later known as the Careers Service and then Careers Centre. In response to the introduction of Health and Safety legislation, Council established committees to ensure compliance, some of which reported directly to Council, and others which reported indirectly via Senate. Council minutes contain reports of the Senate committee on radiation exposure from 1959, and the Safety and Environmental Health committee from 1972 which was later renamed the Safety Executive committee. There are also reports of various staffing committees, and of the Staffing Development Unit from 1990 onwards
The financial position of the University, and the effects of cuts to university funding became a major topic of Council discussion in the 1980s. Annual accounts of the University had been routinely included in Council minutes since the 1960s, but after the Finance and General Purposes committee was abolished in 1987, Council dealt more directly with financial matters, and was more directly concerned with financial policy. Reports of the Investment committee were included with Council minutes from the 1970s, and reports of the Audit committee are included from 1992. There are also regular financial forecasts and budget statements from this date. There are also reports of limited companies set up by the University for maintenance, and for research and development from 1990. Minutes from 1987 include reports of the Strategy, Planning and Resources committee which was set up to advise on corporate strategy and academic development, to recommend budget and distribution of resources, and to direct institutional planning and the use of space. Greater awareness of the importance of building relationships with alumni can be seen in reports of the Alumni Affairs committee from 1991, with later reports on the same functions from the Development and Alumni Relations Office. Council minutes include regular lists of agenda items submitted by the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor from the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, suggesting an increased personal role for these individual officers.

Details of documents the University Seal was affixed to are given at end of each set of minutes
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