TweetThe minutes of meetings at public institutions are an often-overlooked source of possible story ideas and leads. Local authorities and hospitals regularly have their board meetings scrutinised by reporters – but university council meetings are less closely followed.
Many universities publish their minutes online: a search for:
"council minutes" site:ac.uk
…will bring back only pages containing exactly that phrase on university websites.
Here are just some leads we found in minutes we looked at:
- Muslim societies were complaining that they were required to notify the university of any preachers and their sermon contents, but other societies were not subject to similar requests.
- A declaration of a conflict of interest which was considered not strong enough for the individual to excuse themselves from the meeting.
- A student union representative had highlighted big difference between the funding provided to student unions by three different universities – between £450,000 and £2m.
- Surveyors had been appointed to work on a new facility
- A new campus was being explored
- “Deplorable personal attacks” on a senior member of staff on social media
- 50 staff were leaving the university, with the expectation that 50 new staff would be recruited
- A university was exploring intellectual property of students’ work and the subsequent commercial opportunities
Once you have found a page with council minutes, you can set up alerts for when the pages publishes new ones, using ChangeDetection.com.
If a university does not publish minutes online, you can request them using a Freedom of Information request. You may want to invite others to look at them and identify anything of interest.