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Tuesday, 6 July 1999. A discussion was held in the Senate-House of the following Reports:
The Joint Report, dated 21 June and 2 June 1999, of the Council and the General Board on the establishment of a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (p. 778).
Dr F. H. KING:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, a joke which one often sees printed on postcards at the seaside runs thus: 'I'm not indecisive; it's just that I can't make up my mind.'
This text aptly describes the impression given by the Joint Report. Early on I was thoroughly convinced of the desirability of a new higher degree for Veterinary Science that closely parallels the M.D. Degree for Human Medicine.
Unfortunately, the authors of this Report appear not to have been convinced themselves. There is an abrupt change of tack and an explanation that this is not to be a higher degree after all but a Ph.D. Degree by another name.
To confuse the reader still further, the Report declares in paragraph 5 that 'a successful candidate for the Vet.M.D. might subsequently wish to embark on an extended research project with a view to qualifying for the Ph.D.' It now appears that the proposed degree is really a Master's by another name.
Yet when the authors reached the amendments to the regulations for admission to degrees they reverted to their first thoughts. Candidates for this degree are to be presented exactly as for a higher degree.
I have no views myself as to what kind of degree this should be. I am happy to have a new higher degree, in which case the regulations should parallel those for the M.D. I am equally happy to have another route to the Ph.D. Degree, in which case it should be called a Ph.D. I would also be happy to have a new Master's Degree but only if it is called a Master's Degree.
It is possible that the University finds itself over a barrel but I wish to register particular disquiet about embarking on a whole new family of degrees which are Ph.D.s by other names. Before long, I shall ask to be a Doctor of Electrical Engineering and others would quickly take up the theme. We would soon run out of different shades of red for the facings of the festal gowns.
I should like now to remark on some awkward side effects of the regulations that govern the admission to higher degrees in general, since the proposals in this Report make it likely that these side effects will also apply to the Vet.M.D.
It appears not to be widely appreciated outside the circle of Praelectors that higher degrees can be something of an administrative headache and a social disaster. I should like briefly to explain what the problems are and, perhaps reassuringly, what they are not…
Most assuredly, I have nothing but praise for those who make the arrangements for Degree Congregations which are meticulously planned and excellently carried out. Even an occasional crisis such as a fainting graduand or a collapsing throne barely disrupts the proceedings.
The problems all stem from Regulations 9 and 10 which preclude candidates for higher degrees being presented with their own Colleges by their own Praelectors.
It is very laudable to wish to give a little extra attention to candidates for higher degrees and it seems very reasonable to put them at the head of the queue and to arrange for them to be presented by (say) the Chairman of a Degree Committee wearing a cope. Unfortunately, the outcome is almost the opposite of the intention.
In theory, Praelectors are not involved at all. The practice is rather different and by way of illustration I shall describe a composite but typical case from personal experience as Praelector of Churchill.
The saga begins when I receive a letter from a Professor in South America who explains that he has just been approved for an Sc.D. and would like to be presented for this degree at the next Congregation. I reply with a standard congratulatory letter and it would be all too easy to end this letter by explaining that the presentation has nothing to do with me but is the duty of the Chairman of the relevant Degree Committee. In an attempt to be helpful, I at least try to determine the name of the relevant Chairman but even this can be tedious. The published information is often out of date and it can take two or three telephone calls to establish whom I should be dealing with.
It is at this stage that the problems begin in earnest. Chairmen of Degree Committees can be astonishingly unenthusiastic about driving into Cambridge on a Saturday to present a single graduand for a higher degree. They are hardly any more interested in appointing a deputy. Really experienced Chairmen arrange to be in California when there is the remotest chance of being involved in a Congregation.
Eventually I resort to pleading with a tame Sc.D. to serve as deputy but this is not the end of the story. The graduand then asks to attend the Praelector's lunch with all the other graduands and I have to explain that although I would be delighted to have such a distinguished guest he would unfortunately have to leave just after the soup course to get to the Senate House in time. My College is late in the order of Colleges and my other graduands appreciate a leisurely lunch.
Instead of being my guest of honour at lunch and walking with me at the head of the procession to the Senate House, which is what I should prefer, my higher graduand very likely has lunch, à deux, with my press-ganged deputy. On a bad day this lunch might be at their own expense in one of Cambridge's fast-food outlets.
Certainly the higher graduand has five minutes of glory in the Senate House but the witnesses are graduands from King's; no one from his own College is present. The higher graduate, as he now is, then goes out onto an empty Senate House lawn, by which time he and his presenter will be ready to call it a day.
Needless to say I receive no thanks for my invisible part in the proceedings. Instead, on the following Wednesday, I receive a letter from the Proctors fining me the traditional bottle of Port because someone I have never set eyes on was improperly dressed when presented for a degree.
No doubt it was better when all the graduands at a Congregation, and all their guests, could fit in the Senate House at one sitting. Quite possibly the arrangements still suit those at Colleges which are high in the order. For a higher graduate of my College, the memory is likely to be of a rather lonely occasion.
I should like to propose that graduands for higher degrees at least have the option of being presented with their own Colleges and by their own Praelectors. I am sure Praelectors could be trained to manage a cope. Having this option would be greatly appreciated by many Praelectors, by most Chairmen of Degree Committees, by numerous higher graduands, and by future graduands for the Vet.M.D. Degree, whatever kind of degree that turns out to be.
Mr T. N. MILNER:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I congratulate the Council and the General Board for proposing the creation of the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. It is strange that when the degree of Vet.M.B. was introduced, the analogy with Human Medicine was not then seen to require the creation of a Vet.M.D. This is long overdue.
The devil, Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, appears, as the expression goes, to lie in the detail of this proposal. With respect, I believe that even someone as untutored in Veterinary Medicine as myself can, upon reading the Report, detect from place to place the presence of that well-known canine repast a 'dog's breakfast'.
Looking first at the proposed prima facie qualifications for the degree, I was surprised to see that the Report suggests that graduates who neither hold the Cambridge Vet.M.B. or a post on the staff of the Veterinary School should be excluded from candidature. This is not so for the M.D. Degree, for which a Cambridge graduate in any discipline may be a candidate, provided that they also hold an approved medical qualification of some kind. Many who are not Cambridge M.B.s became Cambridge M.D.s in due course. Do the authors of the Report really wish to deny the Vet.M.D. to someone who graduated in another discipline in this University, migrated and subsequently qualified in Veterinary Medicine elsewhere, and is now perhaps practising or researching in East Anglia? If so, why?
I think I can see what is behind the sudden intrusion of references to University offices and 'unestablished posts' in the Veterinary School. The Council are presumably anticipating the demise of the M.A. under Statute B, III, 6 and the incorporation of Oxford and Dublin graduates. Doubtless the qualifications for other higher degrees will be similarly amended in due course. It is, however, strange that in an age apparently devoted to the interdisciplinary ideal, the Report should advocate the exclusion of an otherwise qualified Veterinary Scientist who does not hold the Cambridge Vet.M.B. and is working in another Department or Faculty of this University, from being a Vet.M.D. candidate. Surely a better line can be drawn to include any who hold academic posts in either the University or a College?
Turning to consider the proposed status of the Vet.M.D., I must confess to being completely baffled by the intentions of the Council and the General Board. I follow the desirability of creating the degree, and as I have already said, accept entirely the analogy with the M.D. Degree. Why then classify the Vet.M.D. as a degree junior in standing to the Ph.D.? Having opened with a strong case and sound argument by analogy, the Report then proceeds to demolish its own case by suggesting that Veterinary Medicine is not really worthy of the award of a higher doctorate after all. The Ph.D. is already available to Veterinary graduates, either as registered Graduate Students or under the special regulations for that degree. If I were a Cambridge Vet.M.B., submitted the same amount of research work under similar conditions as my colleague who is a Cambridge M.B., and then got in return a doctorate six ranks lower down the Cambridge scale of degrees than he or she did, then I suspect I might begin to see shades of green, or in this case black, faced with mid-cherry.
That thought leads me to ceremonial matters. I must protest at the extraordinary proposition in the Report that a Vet.M.D. candidate should be presented in the Senate-House as if it were a higher degree, when it is in fact proposed that it rank below a Ph.D. This would make nonsense of the existing procedure for graduation. It is true that candidates for the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Surgery are presented separately as if those degrees were higher doctorates, but that is an historical anomaly and should not be accepted as any sort of precedent here. The B.D. and M.Chir. Degrees pre-date the Ph.D. (the B.D. by a very long way indeed) and the conventions for their presentation had no doubt already been established when the Ph.D. was created and denied the dignity of a 'higher' presentation.
I read the descriptions of the proposed academical dress for Vet.M.D.s with open-mouthed astonishment. Why the proposed black gown should violate our traditions with respect to doctoral dress by including buttons with doctor's lace is quite beyond my comprehension. Would a vertical strip of lace instead of a horizontal one be insufficient distinction from the Ph.D.? It suffices to distinguish a Litt.D. from an Sc.D. well enough. Whoever proposed the Vet.M.D. hood as black-corded silk lined with mid-cherry is clearly unaware that this hood already exists and that Masters of Surgery have been happily wearing it! Having accorded the proposed Vet.M.D. a pre-existent Master's hood, the Report then goes on to announce festal dress that denies the degree any semblance of doctoral status at all.
Most people agree that the Cambridge Ph.D. festal robe is a poor thing and that it reflects very well the low regard in which our forbears held that degree. Even they, however, saw that the inclusion of scarlet cloth, both in the hood and the festal robe of the Ph.D., was essential to mark it out as a doctoral dress, however lowly. To propose black silk faced with mid-cherry for the Vet.M.D. is to go from bad to worse, simultaneously violating our traditions and denigrating the holders of this degree to a sub-quasi-doctoral status.
The University has already accepted, rightly or wrongly, that two degrees may share the same gown (the M.Eng. and M.Sci. gowns are identical). In this case let the Vet.M.D. either share the existing M.D. dress if it is to be a higher doctorate, or, if it is to be of only Ph.D. rank, let it share the Ph.D. festal robe and have a black gown differenced as I have suggested. If the latter course is followed, a hood of mid-cherry silk lined with scarlet cloth, while far from ideal, would at least give it a modicum of ceremonial dignity.
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am sorry to have spoken so negatively about elements in this Report, but I do earnestly ask the Council and General Board to reconsider these matters, lest they end up detracting from what appears to me otherwise an admirable proposal.
Dr G. W. SHAW (read by Mr T. N. MILNER):
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the recent proposal to institute a degree of Vet.M.D. is to be welcomed. However, the proposed regulations for the academical dress of such a degree leave much to be desired. The hood proposed, namely black corded silk lined with mid-cherry silk already exists in the M.Chir. hood. No doctoral scarlet is seen either in the hood or in the festal robe facings, the latter, i.e. black gown with cherry silk facings being similar to the M.Phil. robes of many new universities - seventeen to be exact. Three of these use similar shades of red to the proposed robe.
I would like to put forward the following suggestion:
|(i)||The undress gown is identical to that of the Cambridge Ph.D. except that the doctor's lace is placed vertically. No button is necessary.|
|(ii)||The festal robe is identical to the Ph.D. robe, i.e. black silk with scarlet cloth facings. This robe could then be used for all future lower doctorates (e.g. 'D.B.A', etc.).|
|(iii)||The hood is mid-cherry silk lined with scarlet cloth.|
Dr G. R. EVANS:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I stand up in my vertical strip of lace to make a single point. 'It would be more closely comparable to the Ph.D. and would not rank as a higher doctorate'. I wonder whether we should not give some thought to the gradus question. In recent years we have introduced a flurry of M.Phils., which are a different gradus from the M.A. We have long had the M.D. but now we are to have another degree like it which is a different gradus from the Ph.D. and the Sc.D. I am a little concerned about the implications for the clear perception in the outside world of the range of Cambridge degrees on offer if we create too many shadings.
That is why I did not sign this Report. I notice that whether I sign or not is frequently remarked upon. I have tended to the view that one should not sign if one has reservations. I am trying to persuade myself to the alternative view that one should sign if one mostly accepts what is in the document, but I am finding it difficult to lift my pen on that principle. I hope it will be recognized that it is a matter of conscience.
Dr J. C. HORTON:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is the first new doctorate here for some decades. It is disappointing, therefore, that so little serious thought seems to have been given to its academical dress.
The black gown is described as the Ph.D. gown with a button 'above the lace'. Where above the lace precisely, we are not told. The button is presumably derived from the Vet.M.B. gown. In fact, this gown has two buttons at either end of a vertical cord on each sleeve. A short vertical length of lace might seem more appropriate.
It is the hood and festal gown, though, that show the lack of serious thought. The Council and the General Board seem to have looked at the hood and the festal gown of the Ph.D. and at the hood of the Vet.M.B. and decided to replace the scarlet cloth of the first two with the mid-cherry silk of the last. The scarlet lining of the Ph.D. hood and the scarlet facings of the gown, however, do not allude to the 'Ph.' of Ph.D. but rather to the 'D.'. Indeed, that is why they are of scarlet cloth - the very same material which forms the outer parts of the hoods and the scarlet gowns of all the other doctorates other than of Music. (For historical reasons, the Mus.D. has a uniquely attractive gown of a different form.) The hood and festal gown of the Ph.D. are thus anomalous - the decorative colour refers to the degree (Doctor) and not the Faculty (Philosophy) which is, in fact, not indicated at all. It is therefore futile to try to use the Ph.D. dress as a template for a doctorate in a further Faculty. This is apparent on examining the results of trying.
The hood generated by this technique is black with a lining of coloured silk. In Cambridge, this indicates a master and not a doctor. A glance at the Ordinance for academical dress shows that such a hood with mid-cherry lining is that of a Master of Surgery. Do the Council and the General Board really want a doctor and a master to share the same hood? One can already see that this will be a source of popular jibes about how Cambridge regards veterinary medicine.
The festal gown, on the other hand, suffers from the opposite problem - it is without meaning in Cambridge terms. The festal gown of a Ph.D. reflects the early history of the degree in Cambridge. With only a small amount of scarlet cloth, one might say it is only half a doctor's gown and indeed, in the early days, Ph.D.s were sometimes described as 'half doctors'. The Vet.M.D. is to be given a festal gown with no scarlet so would appear to be no doctor at all!
Of course, some might argue that a black gown with coloured facings is to become a template for Cambridge lower doctorates. However, whatever merit there might have been in this suggestion - little, in my opinion - has now disappeared entirely. A black gown with coloured facings is becoming the standard in many universities for a master by research … in some cases, even a master who has followed a taught course. Until recently, this would have been of no relevance to us here in Cambridge. However, on major University occasions, we can now see members of this University in the dress of other universities. Our Vet.M.D.s will appear as no more than masters.
In summary, both the proposed hood and festal gown for our new doctors will make them appear as masters only. What is to be done? The chief problem with the proposed Vet.M.D. dress is that scarlet fails to appear anywhere. If the Council and the General Board really wish to copy the Ph.D., then the Vet.M.D. hood should be made of mid-cherry corded silk and lined with scarlet cloth.
The festal gown is more problematic. Logically, it should be a silk M.A. gown, but in mid-cherry, with facings of scarlet cloth. This would be a very unusual gown (showing once again how anomalous the Ph.D. gown is). It would have the advantage, though, of stopping Vet.M.D.s succumbing to the temptation of pinning scarlet facings to a black gown in an attempt to produce a festal gown. (This practice, though against the Ordinance, seems to be tacitly endorsed by the University for Ph.D.s)
Perhaps the simplest solution is that Vet.M.D. and Ph.D. share the same festal gown. The convention established in the 1930s of having different academical dress for different degrees was, unfortunately, breached a few years ago when the same gown was specified for both the M.Eng. and the M.Sci. The Ph.D. and the Vet.M.D. would only be indistinguishable when in festal gown and without hood - such occasions would occur far less often than those when M.Eng. and M.Sci. dress identically.
The Report, dated 16 June 1999, of the General Board on the introduction of a University Senior Lectureship into the Cambridge structure of academic offices, and associated matters (p. 782).
DR J. M. WHITEHEAD:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I would like to comment on only one aspect of this Joint Report and that is its relationship to Amendment C, of which I was one of the proposers. The main purpose of the amendment was set out very clearly in the flysheet that was produced for the ballot. It is not my intention to quote the flysheet in its entirety but I would like to draw the central bodies' attention to one or two salient points. The flysheet begins with the following statement: 'The purpose of Amendment C is to establish three principles, that University Lecturers should have continuity of terms of service, that the normal career expectation for committed Lecturers should be progression to a higher level of remuneration than at present, and that the mechanism for career progression should be straightforward and efficient'. It continues, 'We believe that the progression [from Lecturer to Senior Lecturer] should be regarded as the norm and that the grades of Lecturer and Senior Lecturer should be regarded as the 'career grade' for academics in Cambridge and not as two separate offices.'
The flysheet also points out that as the duties of, and the terms and conditions of service for, Lecturers and Senior Lecturers will be the same there is no necessity to create Senior Lectureships as a separate office. This still remains the case; this new Report does not alter that position.
While many of the recommendations of the Report meet the objectives set out in Amendment C, for example the fact that appointments to Senior Lectureships will be made by Appointments Committees, that promotion will be permanent and that progression up the scale will be automatic, and that there is the expectation that 80% of Lecturers will achieve promotion to this or higher office during the course of their career, there is one point that does not: the issue of whether or not Senior Lectureships should constitute a separate office.
In this matter the General Board and the Council wish to ignore the will of the Regent House and create Senior Lectureships as a separate office. The reasons they give for wanting to do so are based on ascribing motives to the proposers of Amendment C which are largely erroneous. The main reason for opposing the creation of a separate office is given in the quote above from the flysheet, that the two offices combined should be regarded as the career grade and that there is no difference in the duties of the two offices. Whether or not this constitutes a promotion that would involve a loss of tenure for those Lecturers appointed before November 1987 is a moot point and no doubt, given the opportunity, lawyers will debate the issue loud and long. That, however, was not, and is not, the major point at issue. Given that the foundation of the argument that there should be separate offices is built not just on sand, but on illusory sand, then it seems to me that the argument now falls.
Furthermore I do not believe that the result of a ballot of the Regent House should be ignored unless what they have voted for is illegal. I would, therefore, like to suggest the following simple solution. That under Chapter XVII of Statute D the phrase 'Lecturers' should be amended to read 'Lecturers and Senior Lecturers' whenever it occurs. In the meantime, to avoid delay, we can presumably publish an Ordinance to the effect that the provisions of Chapter XVII of Statute D shall apply to both Lecturers and Senior Lecturers. After all, given that the University has in the past deemed Ely to be within ten miles of Great St Mary's Church, it should have no difficulty in deeming a statute to apply to both Lecturers and Senior Lecturers.
Mr P.R. GLAZEBROOK:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am participating in this Discussion not because I wish either to support or to oppose the introduction of the office of University Senior Lecturer along the lines described in the General Board's Report - a matter about which I am so dubious as to be agnostic - but simply in order to ask a question.
The question is this: if this scheme goes ahead, do the General Board and the Council envisage making any transitional provisions for those University Lecturers who are in their later fifties or their sixties, and who, for a quarter of a century and longer, have faithfully served the University and their Colleges, contributing in their several ways to maintaining Cambridge's standing as a renowned international centre of excellence - served the University and their Colleges during a period in which a University Lectureship, coupled with a College Fellowship, was the principal career grade in this University, and the only one to which the University held out any expectation that the majority of its teachers could reasonably aspire - a period, of a quarter of a century and more, in which the relative value of their salaries was also steadily eroded - an erosion which the proposed scheme for Senior Lectureships is designed now, and not before time, to ameliorate?
I ask this question because paragraph 10 of the Report, having stated that 'All University Lecturers would be eligible to apply' and that 'Application should be made by individual University Lecturers', then describes, in some detail, the elaborate procedures and criteria which would be followed in determining those applications, and the documentation which would be required to be supplied in their support - listing no fewer than ten items - including a statement from the Senior Tutor of the applicant's College, and two references, one of which would be from a colleague in another University.
Now I am, Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, reluctant to believe that the members of the two principal bodies which manage our affairs are really proposing to invite colleagues, of the age and length of service to which I have referred, to embark on these procedures as a precondition to the receipt of a few extra incremental steps on a depreciated salary scale - when such an invitation could, I think, only be regarded by their recipients as gravely insulting and demeaning, and which are likely to be treated with widespread disdain.
Hence, as I say, my question: do the General Board and the Council envisage any transitional provisions for University Lecturers in their later fifties and their sixties who have served their University and their Colleges - Cambridge having, until now, taken great pride in being a collegiate university - for so long and for such modest financial rewards?
The cost of transitional provisions would be relatively small and, in the nature of the case, would be continually dwindling. The University Lecturers themselves are not, I am sure, in the least bit concerned about receiving an unappealing title - they have got by long enough without it - but they will, I think, be justified in considering themselves as shabbily treated if at their age, and after all their years of service, they are expected to go through all these tiresome and unsavoury procedures in order to secure a few extra increments in their salary scale, increments which the University is now declaring - last paragraph in the first column on p. 785 - that it can afford to pay.
DR D. R. J. LAMING (read by Dr G. R. EVANS):
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, those officers who were in post before 20 November 1987 still enjoy security of tenure, but that security is lost on promotion to another post which has a pay scale with a higher maximum. Accordingly, the Regent House approved an amendment to the General Board's original proposals that 'conferment of the title [of Senior Lecturer] be not considered as promotion to a separate office requiring a new contract.' (Reporter, 1998-99. p. 421). The Board have taken legal advice. A Senior Lectureship with its own distinct pay scale would be likely to be regarded in law as constituting promotion. 'On the other hand, without the conferment of a title, such a scheme might not be thought to constitute promotion.'
The Board discount the idea of dropping the conferment of a title on the grounds that in the preceding consultation exercise (Reporter, 1997-98, p. 251) a majority voted that the new arrangements should introduce a title and a further majority that the title should be 'Senior Lecturer'. But that is not the question at issue now! The issue now is: 'You can have your title, or you can keep your tenure, but you cannot have both. Which is it to be?' Cambridge University Lecturers are a sophisticated bunch. They are not (in my mind) to be seduced by a mere title, especially one so lacking in prestige as 'Senior Lecturer' and would vote, given the chance, to keep their tenure. At the very least, that choice should be put to them. As the proposals at present stand, it looks as though the General Board has a covert agenda to get rid of security of tenure wherever practicable.
I now come to the list of documents which the General Board propose should be submitted by applicants for Senior Lectureships. First in the list is 'A record of all courses taught by the officer in relation to the last three years…, including course descriptions, hand-outs, bibliographies, etc., as appropriate.' I have been counting. In the case of teaching I have given to third-year undergraduates that amounts to 510 sheets of A4. That is just the first, though much the largest, of ten categories of documentation. How many members of Appointments Committees are going to read a ream of A4, a ream for each applicant? I take it that the General Board have not yet calculated the volume of work they are creating for Appointments Committees.
The logic of the situation is that if you do not have a direct assessment of candidates' teaching, then you cannot promote on the basis of that teaching, and a whole ream of paper does not substitute. The nearest we have to an independent assessment of Lecturers' teaching is the anonymous questionnaires and comments returned by students. The General Board have agreed 'that University Lecturers should be required to demonstrate what impact their teaching has on students, taking into account, on a self-assessment basis [my italics], student feedback on the courses that they teach.' The difficulty, of course, is that, whatever Examiners might say, students are independent-minded and cannot be relied upon to deliver the desired verdicts.
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, 'The Council believe that all staff at whatever level should be adequately paid and supported…' (Reporter, 1998-99, p. 638). These proposals will go part-way to achieving that goal for some, a few, of the staff in question. What about the others?
Dr G. R. EVANS:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, 'It is in the long-term interest of the University to … facilitate the recruitment of senior academic staff from other Higher Education institutions, and also to enable appropriate adjustments to be made from time to time in the balance of the academic establishments of institutions' (para. 9). A great many distinguished senior figures have left us under the early retirement scheme, in disappointment at the University's failure to recognize their achievements. A very high proportion of those of us who remain are well over fifty. A few more years will bring us inevitably to a mass exodus. Now that the big leading players are becoming our line-management monarchs and not our equal colleagues, they will perhaps not all want to do the steady teaching. I wonder whether this plan to bribe older teachers to join us has come of the realization that an unbalanced distribution of provision is being created by recent chaotic and unco-ordinated policies? If I were the students I should look on all this with a jaundiced eye.
It was ruled in the first year of the new promotions procedures (1997-98) that no-one applying directly for a Chair could be considered for a Readership by default. The hastily-devised reasons for this, discovered on my invocation of Statute K, 5, do not appear to prevent those applying for Senior Lectureships from also applying for a Chair or a Readership, although the criteria for the two are quite different and a strong candidate for one not only cannot but perhaps ought not to be a strong candidate for the other.
The requirements about 'performing' in administration are unfair to those who have suffered exclusion from the administration of Faculties.
Another category of the unfairly disadvantaged is the University Teaching Officer unable to obtain a College Fellowship because he offers a 'minority' subject. There used to be a committee to look at their plight, and they put me on that two years ago. But after one meeting it was folded up and no longer exists. So although I welcome the inclusion of College teaching, I hope officers without Colleges will not be hog-tied in this race.
I am anxious that Senior Lectureship candidates are not faced with empty promises about the procedures by which they will be chosen. Having fair procedures is important, but it is equally important to ensure that imperfect drafting, and ignorance on the part of those entrusted with the conduct of the process, do not frustrate their purpose, and that they are not so rigid that they make it impossible to deal fairly with individual cases. Let me tell you a story. Almost all of it might happen to them too if we are not careful.
The purple procedures for promotions to Readerships and Chairs impose on the Chairman of the Faculty Promotions Committee a duty: 'To ensure that all decisions taken by the Faculty Promotions Committee are in accordance with the principles of fairness and natural justice' (2.14(vii)). The Chairman of my Faculty Promotions Committee admitted to me on Friday that he chaired the committee although he had not the remotest idea what the rules of natural justice are. So he will have had some difficulty with the legally complex questions raised by 2.11: 'The issue for the Committee to consider is ... whether, given the circumstances, a third party would have real doubt ... The principle, in other words, is whether justice .... is clearly seen to be done'.
I gave up half of the precious thousand words allowed me to make a personal statement to underlining the difficulty about the appearance of bias which I face, perhaps more obviously than any other candidate. The procedures are a closed circle. The Faculty Committee decided to ignore me. (Though it has emerged from my questioning with elephant traps in the feedback that I was not treated like other candidates. There was drama at the second meeting, as the University intervened with legal advice and Professor Blanning and Professor Iliffe, who seems to have hopped in and out of the Chair, were suddenly not considering my case, though Blanning had done so up to then and Iliffe had been writing to me as Chairman even though he had been replaced in the Chair at meetings by Professor Clarke.)
There is a further requirement in the procedures at 3.12: 'Members of Faculty Promotions Committees should, in following the procedures ... ensure that it can be demonstrated to applicants that proper care and attention has been paid to these procedures and that the procedures themselves are transparent'.
At my 'feedback' session on Friday I was refused answers to question after question about the way the procedures had been followed, and in particular, I was refused information about whether interests were declared. The Secretary General, appealed to, confirmed the refusal, but ruled that I might know who was actually there at the meetings. That, coupled with what I had already wormed out, told me the above.
There appears to have been a retreat even from the standards of adherence to the rules of natural justice at the levels of the Appeal Committee and the General Board Committee in 1997-98. There a member of the Appeal Committee withdrew at once on my objection, as did members of the General Board's Committee.
There is ample evidence to satisfy a third party that there is an appearance of institutional bias, not only the comments of Sir Stephen Sedley and Sir Brian Neill and the Council itself (in the Report of 30 April last year), and the public displays of prejudice against me in the Discussion of 12 May 1998, but also a series of letters from academics all over the country written to the Vice-Chancellor to endorse this view. (It will be remembered that the Vice-Chancellor undertook to ensure that these letters were passed on to those directly concerned in the consideration of the application and that he did not do so.)
I have done my level best to go on in the spirit of the undertaking I believed the Vice-Chancellor had given me when I withdrew the litigation, that we would stay out of the courts and try to get this mess sorted out internally like friendly adults. But after six months with nothing done, and as the second meeting of the History Faculty Promotions Committee approached, I said I was minded to seek an injunction to stop the Faculty Promotions Committee continuing with the consideration of my case.
That created a flurry. Suddenly there was an extra item on the agenda for the extraordinary meeting of the General Board which was to agree the second round of early retirements, and the Secretary General was willing to meet me again (with his troops about him as on 24 February).
The tiny Executive Committee which took the formal decision to defend the action contains upon it a member of the History Faculty Promotions Committee, Professor Badger, who was named in the action in that capacity. It is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, who was personally named in the action.
The Executive Committee was told that I was seeking a special provision for myself. That is not true. I have merely been seeking to require the University to keep to its own rules in the promotions procedures and take the duty to declare an interest seriously (Registrary's Statement to the court, para.3). I want here to signal my strong indignation at that misrepresentation, which is not only inaccurate, but attacks my integrity.
The Secretary General was also named in the action. After we had had our crowded meeting on 15 June, I sent him a summary by e-mail. He e-mailed back to undertake that the University would resist my claim. Not declaring his own interest, he also sent his e-mail to every member of the General Board early in the morning of 16 June, before they met that afternoon. He may thus have influenced the General Board to be combative.
My patience was to go against me in court, for in the eyes of the law delay is delay. I did not get the injunction but the substantive case in tort or in contract which would have had to underlie it can be lodged at any time within the next six years.
The judge took the view that our purple book procedures are not incorporated in the contracts of eligible officers. The University paid Mr Béar his many thousands of pounds last year to argue in the High Court that it was all contractual, so there ought to be no public law remedy; this year it paid him more thousands to argue that it is not contractual at all, so there is no private law remedy either.
That means the University has no contractual obligation to its officers to keep to the procedures it has devised for considering them for promotion (though arguably, that takes the issue of their fairness back into the public law domain). You may like to know, future Senior Lecturers, that you will have no contractual rights to be considered fairly under the procedures they are going to devise for you.
It has cost me a lot to find that out for you. I now face a bill for nearly £10,000 for what was in principle a one-hour hearing in a local county court. For the University did not stint itself in the matter of representation. It did not negotiate a fixed-fee deal with its lawyers, as it could easily have done. An inexperienced judge taxing costs on the spot under the new Woolf rules made no allowance for the difference between own client and inter partes costs. The University's Counsel kindly led her through the new practice directions. Our Council, containing upon it so many who stood to gain personally from this legal expenditure, will make the decision on 26 July whether to bring in the bailiffs and force the money out of me.
The judge described the purple book procedures as a mere 'procedural booklet or code'. Lawyers will be interested in the implications for their status as subordinate legislation, for there are significant technical questions here.
The difficulty I was in has been set out crisply by Robert Baldwin (in Rules and Government, Oxford, 1995, pp. 105-6). 'Where the status of the rules is vague it is difficult to mount a legal challenge'. 'There are significant problems ... from the difficulty of classifying such rules and their uncertain legal credentials; the vagueness of the mandate involved; the legal freedom enjoyed by judges in attributing legal effects to such rules; the lack of consistency in judicial principles governing the effects of tertiary rules (my italics) ... the variety of legal effects that may flow from one set of rules'.
I hear that there are those on the central bodies who are triumphantly claiming that the fairness of our procedures has been vindicated. That is not what has happened. The judge was dealing with a quite different set of technical points in her judgement, and it would be a pity if this episode set back further reforms.
My fear was justified. Last year my Faculty Committee did put me forward for a Chair, though half-heartedly. This year they have not. But, this year, I have published four more books and they now give me top marks for 'nature of the contribution to knowledge' (whatever that may be) and for teaching. I am called a 'leading voice' and my work is admitted to be 'entirely distinctive'; it is admitted that 'the fact of your being published so frequently by institutions of great prestige' is in my 'favour' and that my books have been translated into numerous foreign languages. It is not clear to me how it can be that I am mysteriously growing less worthy of a Chair each year. I mention these painful personal details to encourage other disappointed candidates to use the appeal procedure so that we can get it improved by trial and error.
The 'teaching' point ought to concern students. The History Faculty Committee gave everyone top marks on that unless there was clear evidence of total incompetence. So what is that evaluation worth? And if they can scatter such largesse on one criterion, why not on others?
The appeal procedure is inherently unfair. An appellant is refused the information to enable him or her to establish that there has been a procedural flaw. I can allege but not prove that there were breaches of the rules of natural justice. I can allege but not prove - especially important to an interdisciplinary candidate - that the most appropriate information has not been obtained, since we are no longer to know who the referees were. I learned at my feedback session that for some reason they sought referees from 'Education'. I quote: 'the way we operated was I thought the only way you could be judged was to get experts in various multi-disciplinary fields by stressing that you see yourself as interdisciplinary'. 'There is no one the agenda of whom is exactly the same as yours'. So they did not get the most appropriate information, then? (3.3). It is worse than that. The referees were not told I was an interdisciplinary candidate. It is confirmed that they were sent the standard letter. It is to be expected that the resulting comments of the referees were somewhat confused by a body of work which belongs to none of them. The confusion leached through into the decision-making. I got different ratings for 'significance' and 'reputation' although the Chairman admitted that he could not distinguish clearly between these criteria. He also admitted that the evaluations were a 'compromise judgement', not a collective judgement.
There are now fifteen references in my folder, of whom I was allowed to nominate only one this year. Naturally if you ask fifteen people you increase mathematically the likelihood that someone will say something negative. And there is now no way of dealing with negative remarks. They are simply taken to create 'reasonable doubt' and they get you an 'R'. And if you get an 'R' from your Faculty on any criterion, it does not put you forward for promotion (5.13). It is admitted by my Chairman that: 'The categories are not drawn up as the best way to assess your achievement'.
So it was all a cock-up then? And will the Appeal Committee intervene? I doubt if I can place much trust in that.
I fail at present to see what, in the acknowledged weak state of administrative and employment law provision in England, any authority in the land can do to assist me, and I think I can be forgiven for having lost faith in promises made to me internally.
I come back to the detail of the present Report. I understand that the 'external consultants' (para. 10) (what are they costing us?) are looking only at equal opportunities issues and not giving advice on fair procedures or making sure that such requirements of fairness as we have are not laughed away with impunity by the committees.
I am pleased to see that the principle about promoting everyone who deserves it, slipped into the Report on the Allocations from the Chest at the last minute as I described in a speech a month ago, has now become a prominent statement of policy.
Dr N. HOLMES:
Deputy Vice Chancellor, I should like, if I may, to preface my remarks with the observation that this is the first occasion on which I have attended a Discussion and I apologise in advance if, in my ignorance, I fail to observe suitable procedure. In the context of these prefatory remarks I should also like to say that I feel we have much to be proud of in the arrangements for the governance of this University and, though some may regard our procedures as outdated or even occasionally arcane, I firmly believe that the principles of democracy by which the University orders its affairs are ones which will come to be seen as ahead of their time, as enlightened. To defend and advocate those principles features largely in my reasons for joining today's Discussion.
Let me turn now to the Report under discussion. I should declare at the outset that I was among those members of Regent House who signed an amendment to the Grace which gave effect to the recommendations of the General Board's Report concerning the establishment of Senior Lectureships (Amendment C to Grace 9 of the 25 November 1998 as it came to be known). I also signed a flysheet setting out in further detail the reasons for proposing the amendment and the arguments in favour of the alternative arrangements proposed therein. Without wishing to take up too much time, I would like to reiterate these today. The purpose of Amendment C was to establish three principles; that University Lecturers should have continuity of terms of service, that the normal career expectation for committed University Lecturers should be progression to a higher level of remuneration than at present and that the mechanisms for career progression should be straightforward and efficient. I would like to amplify these principles a little. I will begin in the middle since many regard the key objective in the proposals surrounding this issue as being to improve the financial rewards given to the majority of Cambridge University Lecturers. I know that the General Board have acknowledged on several occasions the clarity of the need to do something in this direction. I noted a few weeks ago a report in the Cambridge Evening News that the average house in Cambridge now costs £126,000. This is more than four times the salary of a University Lecturer at the top of the scale. I submit that it is abundantly clear that something must be done and that the proposal to add three salary points which would improve the remuneration of those progressing to them, by some 11% ultimately, goes some way to meeting this need. Further progress will be needed in the area of national academic salary levels but this is an area outside our present Discussion.
Achieving this objective does not require the establishment of a separate office. Nor I would contend does satisfying those who feel, no doubt with justification, that the title of University Lecturer does not convey their seniority, contribution, and achievements to the outside world. My own preference is for a single office, a unified career grade which would encompass the salary scale envisaged for University Lecturers/Senior University Lecturers - which I take to be up to step 27 as outlined in the Report under discussion here. I accept the case for a significant bar at the current University Lecturer maximum (scale point 22), though I am doubtful of its necessity in the vast majority of cases. In effect my ideal foresees the Cambridge office of University Lecturer as having two subdivisions one of which could carry the title Senior University Lecturer. I do not suggest that this proposal is my own idea and I am aware that such a scheme was considered by the General Board at at least one stage of their discussions. I have still not read any convincing argument against it in any of the Board's remarks on the matter. My own observations, including but not limited to the result of the ballot in February, lead me to think that it commands the support of a significant number of members of the Regent House and I would note that this argument was explicitly presented in Amendment C and the accompanying flysheet. A second important element in this central principle is that progression should be regarded as the norm for those University Lecturers who perform their duties with professionalism and commitment - which, as I hope we can all agree, is the overwhelming majority of our colleagues. I am grateful that the Board have clarified their view on this. I wish to observe that since the duties of Senior Lecturer are not going to be distinct from those of University Lecturers and since it is envisaged that 80% of University Lecturers will obtain the reward of Senior Lecturer or greater, it is unclear to me what is achieved by establishing a separate office of Senior Lecturer.
I would also like to note with some puzzlement that the proposed Statute starts with the statement that 'There shall be such number of University Senior Lecturers in each Faculty or Department as may from time to time be determined by the General Board'. I understand that at some future date the General Board may wish to alter the scheme so that new appointments may be made at this level but to my eyes, untutored in legal niceties it is true, this clause does not seem quite consistent with the notion that personal promotions (including those to Senior Lecturer as envisaged by the Board's scheme) shall be primarily determined by academic merit without budgetary restriction. Nor do I see how such a statement fits with the arrangements for such appointments which it is proposed are to made by Faculty Appointment Committees and not by the General Board (unlike Readerships and personal Professorships or indeed additional University Lecturers). My concern here is to draw attention to the apparent extent to which the Board's preferred option, recommended in this Report, fails to ensure the principle of normal career expectation which was explicit in the amendment approved by Regent House and which the General Board broadly support. By contrast the arrangements espoused by Amendment C for a unified office would effectively ensure this principle in practice.
I will return now to the first of the principles which Amendment C was meant to establish, which concerned continuity. Those University Lecturers who obtain advancement to step 25 (which I take to be the next salary point, although I could not find a categorical statement in the current Report; this would correspond to the first further point enumerated in the original report of June 1998) will in effect be continuing to do the same job they have performed admirably (we can take that for granted since they have convinced their Faculty Appointments Committee of this) since their original appointment as University Lecturer, which may be many years ago or may be more recent. I can therefore find no argument for any variation in their terms and conditions of service other than the intended reward by way of improved remuneration - I leave aside for the moment discussions of tenure and the Education Reform Act to which I will return shortly. It may be that there is no intention that there should be any such change in the proposals in this Report, though until the General Board take the very welcome step of publishing the new model contract, promised to the Board of Scrutiny (see the Fourth Report of the Board of Scrutiny, paragraph 47; Reporter, p. 796), we may not know for certain.
I will turn finally to the principal reason which induced me to take the somewhat daunting step of joining my first Discussion. I wish firmly to refute the assertion in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the Report that one of the objectives of Amendment C concerned avoiding the loss of tenure for those long-standing University Lecturers who still enjoy it by virtue of the provisions of the Education Reform Act 1988 on promotion. We are told first 'that the Board understood that [this was] one [the emphasis is mine] of the concerns which motivated the proposers of Amendment C'. I have not asked all those who signed the amendment but among those I have consulted none says that they were asked by the Board or any member of it whether this was so. For my own part I can honestly say that it was not one of my concerns; I may add that at least half a dozen of those who signed the amendment and a similar number who signed the flysheet are not in any case covered by the concession for those appointed but not promoted since 1988. Where then, may I ask, did the Board obtain their supposed insight into the motivation of the proposers of Amendment C? However, in my opinion the Board move on from a regrettable error of judgement to something more serious. Following their legal advice, whose accuracy I have no reason to doubt, they conclude, at the end of paragraph 7, that 'it is not possible for the proposers of Amendment C to achieve their aims'. This is a step further in misinterpretation you will see; protecting tenure for some is now no longer one of our objectives, it has become the principal if not the only one. This is an important misunderstanding for it is on this basis alone that the Board concludes that it is possible for it to disregard the vote of the Regent House, to reject the effect of Amendment C and to return to its original scheme as amended by Amendments D and E only.
I am afraid I regard this a dangerous and fundamentally flawed synthesis. The Regent House have expressed a view about the issues of continuity, expectation, and procedure encapsulated in Amendment C and expanded in the flysheet. It is not, I would submit, for the General Board to override the Regent House on the grounds that they imagine that their motivation, even though nowhere referred to in the documents, is legally flawed. I can understand, perhaps, that the Board are still convinced of the superiority of their own proposed arrangements over those envisaged by Amendment C but I do not understand why they consider that their beliefs entitle them to ignore the democratically expressed view of Regent House. I am as mystified by the Board's motives in continuing to regard their arrangements as superior even though they concede that there may be little difference in effect and I could, if I were so minded, imagine possible hidden motives behind their obduracy but that would surely be wrong.
Let me close by urging the Board to rethink their position. They state in their Report that it is possible to proceed on the basis of the scheme envisaged in Amendment C (option (2) in paragraph 8). They state their opinion that the difference between this and option (1) (their original scheme) is small. Can this form the basis for rejecting the option chosen by the Regent House in a proper ballot solely on the grounds that they judge the amendment to fail to achieve its objectives - a judgement clearly erroneous in part, possibly illusory in toto? Without wishing to make mischief but just to illustrate the difficulties of prejudging the Regent House's view, let alone the many possible motives for those views, let me point out that the respondents to the Board's consultation exercise on this subject agreed 258 to 187 that College teaching should be excluded from the assessment for Senior Lecturer yet the Regent House voted 418 to 229 in favour of Amendment D. If the Board are convinced that the Regent House had voted in favour of Amendment C solely or principally because it might protect the tenure rights of those University Lecturers of long standing and that this would not do so under option (2) but would (or probably would) do so under option (3) which eliminates the title, perhaps it ought to offer the Regent House an opportunity to decide in a ballot whether it prefers option (3). Notwithstanding the results of the consultation exercise the juxtaposition of issues might produce a different outcome; some care little about titles in any case, others may judge tenure, if they have it, to be more valuable.
But I do not urge the Board to go down that road. I do urge them to follow the expressed preference of the Regent House for the type of scheme outlined in Amendment C. To do otherwise, I would submit, risks damaging those principles of democratic self-governance on which this University is based.
Dr A. MYCROFT:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I welcome the Report of the General Board on the introduction of a University Senior Lectureship into the Cambridge structure of academic offices, and associated matters; I also wish to thank the many people who supported my successful amendment that College teaching be considered. I see this Report, which now contains explicit acknowledgement of College duties for 'Cambridge University', as only the first step in a process of modernization. Externally the University and its Colleges are just referred to as 'Cambridge University'; people (even the HEFCE) do not see or choose to ignore its internal boundaries. The (narrow) University even feels free to incorporate, as its own, contributions made by Colleges when it sees fit, e.g. for subject review. However, much remains to be done to ensure fair and consistent reward by promotion and by remuneration for all employees of 'Cambridge University', especially when their duties cross the internal boundaries.
I expand on this issue in my remarks to the immediately following discussion on the Fourth Report of the Board of Scrutiny.
The Fourth Report, dated 8 June 1999, of the Board of Scrutiny (p. 792).
Dr N. A DODGSON:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I wish to wholeheartedly support Recommendation VIII of the Report, that the General Board carefully consider and present a Report on the recruitment, reward, and retention of all academic and academic-related staff. I would also like to suggest that, in parallel with this, the appropriate University bodies consider the recruitment, reward, and retention of unestablished research staff and of assistant staff.
On page 796, the Report makes comparisons between house prices now and fourteen years ago. Being a Computer Scientist, I decided to perform calculations based on my own situation to see what has happened over just the last six years. Six years ago, I could just afford to purchase my current house on my age-related salary. Six years later, when I might be thinking of moving to a larger property, I find that I can still just afford to purchase my current house - despite being six points higher on the salary scale. A new Lecturer, six years my junior, would have difficulty purchasing anything in Cambridge larger than a rabbit hutch.
If the situation is bad for a 30 year old University Lecturer on £20,000, imagine the difficulties faced by a 25 year old Research Associate on £16,000, who is thinking of starting a family. There is no way that such a person could afford to live in Cambridge. Even more damning: how does a 40 year old T3 technician cope on £13,000? This is the top of the salary scale and, in the current climate, there is little chance of promotion onto the T4 scale. Technicians and secretaries are increasingly forced to live further and further from the city owing to the high cost of living in Cambridge, at the same time as the University is considering ways to further reduce the number of car parking spaces available to its staff. Perhaps it is time to consider a Cambridge weighting, analogous to the London weighting, applied to all salaries.
In the Computer Laboratory, and no doubt elsewhere in the University, we are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain staff. The strict age-related nature of the Research Associate scale means that we simply cannot compete in the real world. For example, one of our Research Associates has just been enticed away by a company offering to pay him twice his University salary. What can the University offer to try to keep him here? A discretionary payment, amounting to £900 per annum, is hardly competitive - even assuming that we could push through the paperwork in time to offer it to him. If we want to keep good people then we need more flexibility in how we reward them.
Assistant staff are also difficult to recruit and retain. The salaries that we offer are simply not competitive. A secretary or technician may not be able to earn twice as much in the commercial marketplace, but they can certainly earn more than the University pays. And, while a University Lecturer may be able to moonlight undertaking all sorts of consultancy work, a member of the assistant staff is much more restricted in how they can supplement their income.
We may like to believe that working for the world-renowned University of Cambridge is sufficient reward to compensate for the meagre salaries we offer. While this may be true for some academic staff, I suspect that it cuts little ice with assistant staff. We are asking our assistant staff to take on increasing amounts of work and increasing responsibility for the same rewards, and we often manage to treat them as if they are second, or perhaps third, class citizens. We cannot go on like this: something is going to break.
There is considerable turnover in both assistant staff and unestablished research staff. This leads to equally considerable costs in recruiting new staff and in training them. Rather than continue to face the substantial costs of excessive staff turnover, it would be far better to construct mechanisms whereby valued and experienced staff are enticed to stay with us, whether they are assistant staff, unestablished research staff, or, indeed, academic staff. Finally, a further example of the inflexibility of the University's age-related salary scale was brought home to me when I employed a Research Associate of the same age. We are paid exactly the same salary, although I am the line manager and have considerably more responsibilities. There is definitely something peculiar, or at least inconsistent, here. On the one hand, assistant staff have detailed job descriptions and receive a salary commensurate with their responsibilities. On the other hand, academic and research staff are paid on a simplistic age-related scale; as if age were an accurate measure of ability and responsibility. There is obviously much that needs to be done to improve the current situation.
Dr G. R. EVANS:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I will be briefer than before. The Board of Scrutiny is a faithful watchdog and we should not underestimate its constitutional value to us in a world where so few mechanisms exist for calling universities to account.
I want first to endorse the concerns expressed in paragraph 2 about the length of time which must elapse after the event before the Regent House hears the Board of Scrutiny's concerns and discovers what the Council has to say. Our accountability mechanisms ought to operate speedily enough for them to be a realistic check ( in both senses of the term).
At paragraph 8 of the Board of Scrutiny's Report there is mention of the 'assurances that the organizational infrastructure is being put into place' for the next Research Assessment Exercise. As a member of the Council, I know nothing of what is being done. As a scholar in the humanities I hear not a whisper of anything Professor Skinner is doing, except that he is chairing, I believe, all the Boards of Electors for established Chairs in the humanities. I have asked several times for him to be invited to come and tell the Council what he is doing. He has never yet appeared in the Council Room at one of our meetings. I find this silence disturbing. For £24,000 we should at least be entitled to a report with a small 'r' and I hope he will recognize that he has to be accountable to the Council and to the Regent House for what he is doing, at this stage and in the future.
I hope that the forward march of the plan to bring selected people in in advance of the next Research Assessment Exercise (which has still not been put before us for Discussion as a policy), will not include any more examples of practices of the sort I am about to describe. In a recent letter arising from questions put to the National Audit Office it is described how the University has admitted that a Chair or Readership can be created for a named individual at will without its being advertised. The case in question is that of Helen Lee, for whom a Readership was created in this way in 1990. She happened to be the wife of a senior figure in the University. I quote: 'The General Board of the Faculties gave permission not to advertise in accordance with Section 2 of the Board's Guidance for Appointments Committees. The appointment of Dr Lee was made in accordance with the special regulations for Readers and Readerships.'
There was also special provision to get round the difficulty that a post in Cambridge, once filled, cannot be held indefinitely for someone to decide to come and enter upon her duties. 'The General Board deferred her appointment under Statute D, I, 8 until February 1992. The General Board granted her unpaid leave from March 1992 until April 1995 under Statute D, II, 3(b).'
So the will was there for that, too. A post filled in 1990 was not entered upon until 1995. The reference for the Public Accounts Committee letter from which I quote is B.1296/24/218, June 21 1999.
I think it is time the Regent House was absolutely clear that this kind of thing can happen. I hope the fact that I speak as one of those conspicuously not on anyone's list of best-beloved will not be taken to detract from the force of the argument that others should not be either. The big leading players are likely to have their favourites, even if they are not married to them. I hope the General Board will not be a pushover if asked to do this again. It may be (if barely) legal. I am not confident that we ought to be proud of it, and I am quite sure that it is out of harmony with the General Board's repeated protestations that it wants to reward us all fairly and equally.
I should also like to add my voice once more, if that will not be counter-productive, to the calls for greater openness in explaining things to the University, in particular, in the context of this Report, the rationales for the deployment of our financial resources (paragraphs 5ff.). Higher paid staff (20) are going to become a much larger category with the advent of the secret extra payments on the 'to those that have shall be given' principle. 'Equal pay for equal work' is going to vanish from the fens. I hope the publication of statistical data (46) can go a little further so that we may know exactly who are the favoured among us, and what were the outcomes of the selection processes for the secret handouts on which I spoke at the last Discussion.
Paragraph 40 takes me to one of my hobby-horses. It is blatantly wrong that we are increasing the pay-differentials, upping the pay of the already quite well-paid and 'recognized', and taking it for granted that we can continue to get away with what can only be described as exploitation of the loyalty and hard work of those who have not been favoured by the powerful who have ensured that they 'get on' and rise through the system. The Board of Scrutiny rightly underlines the plight of the young Lecturer who cannot afford to come to live here on the salary on offer. But we ought not to lose sight of the older members of the academic staff approaching the taking of their pensions on a salary appropriate to a teacher in a primary school.
I, too, have been calling for the development of 'a robust policy and procedures' to govern our collaborations with industry - and with funders in general (para. 30). Could I ask that we develop machinery which ensures that when members of the Regent House go to the trouble to write papers or make suggestions those texts are, as a matter of courtesy, put into the hands of whatever committees are currently dealing with the matter and not merely filed away? I doubt whether there will ever be so many of them as to be an encumbrance upon the processes of deliberation. But it would be a means of ensuring that interest and concern are not stifled and that the views of members of the Regent House are taken seriously. Not everyone wants to make a speech in this public forum. Many have concerns. (I give the example of the immense effort I went to to obtain examples of student charters and similar documents in use elsewhere for our working party on the Student Charter. These were never circulated, despite my repeated requests on the working party and on the Student Matters Committee; indeed I recollect that at one stage when asked directly the Student Matters Committee took the view that it did not really have any need to learn from what other universities were doing. On the contrary, I fear that in the matter of such documents, as in our thinking on 'clear, published, policed procedures', we are often miles behind other institutions.)
I especially wish to endorse the anxiety expressed at paragraph 37. I have recently gone through all the declarations of interest made by members of the Council, the General Board, and the Finance Committee, which may be consulted in the Registrary's Secretary's office, the General Board Office, and the Treasurer's office respectively. It is a matter of concern that not all the committees on which individuals sit are listed, particularly in the case of the Vice-Chancellor, who is certainly involved in a great many more formal roles than are on his list. It is of the first importance that it be clear to those he sits around tables with, and to the Vice-Chancellor himself, whether he is doing so as our Vice-Chancellor, or as Alec Broers, engineer, or in some other capacity. And in order that it may become clear we do need to know all the things he is doing, and to be kept up to date on them. A declaration of interest form filled in once in two years is not enough in these fast-moving times. The Treasurer sits on the Board of Directors of numerous companies, as do others. The declarations of interest do not make it clear which if any are remunerated Directorships. Should the declaration of interest requirement not cover all those among us who have any outside activities at all? How much of their time as employees of the University are our big leading players giving to outside interests, and is that in our interest or theirs? What of enterprises and activities which are partly owned by the University and partly commercial? We need to require declaration of interests much more comprehensively. It is part of the need for clear, published, policed procedures. Interested members of the Regent House will find it illuminating to root about at Companies House and to see the patterns of recurrence of certain names.
Paragraph 47. I am pleased to see that pressure from the Board of Scrutiny appears to have achieved what I could not, although I pressed for it again and again: the publication of the new contracts of employment. The new contracts do indeed apply to the promoted, who automatically enter new contracts with the University. I have repeatedly argued that they should know what they are getting themselves into in advance of being presented with the document to sign.
At 48 and 49 we come to equal opportunities and fairness at work. We find it easy to issue anodyne and 'mission' statements. 'Smug' is the word that comes to mind. We continue to ill-treat in the subtlest possible ways those on short-term contracts and those whose faces do not fit. The culture-change that is needed is huge. The first requirement is to recognize that it is needed.
I ought perhaps to close by touching on paragraph 2. 'Bad faith' is notoriously hard to define. There is a journey from cock-up to cover-up to corruption during which incompetence turns into bad faith. Most of what happens here is at the cock-up end of that line. But that may still amount to maladministration. In R. v. Local Commissioner for Administration for the North and East Area of England, ex parte Bradford Metropolitan City Council  2 All ER 881, Lord Denning included in the definition of maladministration 'delay or incompetence or neglect of duty' (at 898).
I am pleased to report that the atmosphere on the Council and - as far as I can judge - on the General Board is greatly improved. It has been possible for me to establish amicable relations with a number of individuals, and I hope to expand that class if anyone is willing to meet me at any time for a cup of coffee in the University Library tea-room. I perhaps suffered most as an individual from the 'regrettable accusations' and it is still a source of pain to me that the printed untruths have never been apologized for in print. However, I observe that there is a change of perception abroad which recognizes that I have not been acting solely from selfish motives in my campaigns for reform, and have indeed suffered irretrievable professional damage. I unreservedly apologize if I have been unfair to anyone in anything I myself have said, and if he or she will discuss any such point with me, I undertake to make public and specific retraction of anything I have said in criticism of any individual which was not true or reasonable in all the circumstances.
Dr R. E. HUNT:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I welcome the Report of the Board of Scrutiny. Although it seems at times rather churlish to have created a body whose entire purpose is to complain and find fault in a system which is for the most part extremely well-run, I am sure that members of the Regent House are grateful for the substantial time and effort which the members of the Board of Scrutiny have put into their carefully considered and well-argued Report, and most of us will agree with the points they raise.
I particularly welcome, for selfish reasons, Recommendation VIII of the Board's Report, that the General Board should present a Report on the recruitment, reward, and retention of all academic and academic-related staff, especially those not covered by the recently approved scheme for Professors and Senior Lecturers. We often hear of the plight of contract research staff, who are on poorly paid, short-term contracts and who have no real promotion prospects. And we hear (all too often) of University Lecturers who have reached the top of their pay scales and are unable to obtain a Readership or Professorship; but now at least they have Senior Lectureships to apply for. I urge the General Board, however, not to neglect a category of staff which falls between the two, but which is for some reason not normally mentioned in Reports or Discussions.
I have a (four-year) fixed-term contract in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, though I am not what would be called a contract researcher. Indeed, I am in all but name and job security a University Lecturer. My salary is on exactly the same scale, and my duties are identical. I lecture to undergraduates (and graduates) at all levels, I run assessed coursework for the Department, I have been an Examiner for the Tripos for the past two years, I have an administrative load, and in my (extremely limited) remaining time I research. Several of my Departmental colleagues believe, mistakenly but unsurprisingly, that I am in fact a University Lecturer. On the other hand, I am not, of course, entitled to any kind of sabbatical leave; while through a loophole in the Statutes I am entitled to nominal extra payments for examining despite my job being apparently identical to my colleagues'. I am not alone in having this status: others in my Faculty are in the same position, and my Faculty is presumably not the only one.
Yet there is no promotional structure into which we fit. Although we perform identical jobs to those of University Lecturers, there is no system whereby we can be considered for 'conversion' to University Lecturer, as there is for Assistant Lecturers. People in our position with distinction in some or all of administration, teaching and research, cannot apply for the post of Senior Lecturer, as it is necessary first to be a University Lecturer. The General Board might respond that our route to promotion is clear: we should apply for University Lectureships when vacancies arise, and then seek promotion as usual. A quick search for the last time my Department had a vacancy for a University Lecturer will reveal why this would be an unhelpful response: how can we apply for University Lectureships when no such vacancies exist in our fields - despite the fact that the duties of a University Lecturer are clearly required within the Department, as we ourselves are currently performing them? It might seem to an observer that we are being taken advantage of.
I urge the General Board to ensure that if the recommendations of the Board of Scrutiny are accepted, then the Report on the recruitment, reward, and retention of all academic and academic-related staff will include consideration of the category of staff I have described.
Dr A. MYCROFT:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I welcome the Fourth Report of the Board of Scrutiny and would encourage them, the General Board, and the Colleges Committee to consider more deeply issues of fair treatment of employees which are implicit in their remarks 17 and 41. An employer has a legal and moral obligation to treat its employees fairly. In the past we have been able to argue that different Colleges are like different football teams and can pay employees according to their income since that income arises from sources other than the University. Now College fee income arises via the University (albeit ring-fenced), this situation has changed. While Colleges remain at liberty to reward their Fellows (and others such as external Directors of Studies) from endowment income as they wish (subject only to rules imposed by their charitable status), I feel there now remains no justification for College differences of salaries or fees representing teaching or other duties remunerated from the College fee (indeed it might represent indirect unfair treatment by the University being paymaster).
Let me just provide a couple of examples which cannot have been in the Education Secretary's mind. In 1998-99 (in addition to my Fellowship and Director of Studies post at Robinson which is not relevant here) I acted as Director of Studies to a certain College whose previous Director of Studies had moved abroad. My motives were moral rather than financial - no-one else would volunteer - and for taking responsibility of looking after three students I was paid the princely sum of £53.50 a term. At such levels of payment it is hardly surprising that many Colleges find it difficult to recruit and retain Directors of Studies. The fact that richer Colleges can pay more is beside the point; such low rates cause high turnover because people leave for better paid positions or just decide that the effort is not worth the reward. Similarly, consider supervising. Suppose I and a colleague from a rich College arrange a supervision for our own pairs of students. We follow this with a second supervision with the pairs exchanged between us for educational reasons. Then both hours of supervision I give will be rewarded at £20 an hour (the same as a junior Ph.D. student) whereas my colleague at a rich College will be rewarded at £60 an hour. Am I only worth 1/3 of the rate for the job when the University considers us of the same grade? College teaching by supervisors of equal skill and experience should be equally rewarded. Similarly when many UTOs take sabbatical leave from the University they are paid nothing by various Colleges as directing studies and supervising is 'casual' work, but their colleagues at rich Colleges have pensionable salaries which continue during sabbatical leave and into retirement. Is it surprising that College teaching provision varies unacceptably, especially in subjects like mine where consultancy is an easier income source?
We need to establish a proper fair base scale of remuneration for direction of studies, supervising, and pastoral care which is paid to UTOs out of College fee income provided by the University, like that which effectively exists for CTOs. After all, non-Oxbridge universities are already legally required to reward the above activities fairly. Moreover such minima seem possible without bankruptcy or increased payment within the Colleges Fund: one poorish College of which I am aware spends just 2% of its turnover (around 6% of its fee income) on College teaching by UTOs. The alternative is to adopt the football 'transfer market' in which high-quality College teachers will be snapped up by the well-paying star Colleges in a self-perpetuating way.
If we wish 'Cambridge University' (the joint body of narrow (legal) University and its Colleges) to act fairly towards its employees we must address these issues.
DR GORDON JOHNSON (read by Mr H. J. EASTERLING):
Deputy Vice Chancellor, I was a member of the Wass Syndicate which some years ago proposed a number of changes to our constitution and to the ordering of our administrative affairs. You will recall that a major challenge put to the Syndicate was to devise some way in which legitimate decision-making in the University could be speeded up without loss of ultimate responsibility on the part of the Regent House. The Syndicate put together a package of reforms, most of which were accepted by the Regent House, and which I believe have, on balance, served the University well over the past few years.
The establishment of the Board of Scrutiny was part of the Syndicate's scheme of things, and we have before us this afternoon the Fourth Annual Report of that Board. I hope it will not be taken amiss by anyone if I comment in very general terms on the way in which successive Boards have seen where their duty lay, for they have all conceived their role differently from that which we intended in our package of reform.
Of course, no political reform is ever implemented in just the way its framers intend, but I am concerned about the activities of the Board on two fronts: first, it is clear that an enormous amount of work goes into the production of a Report like the one we have before us today. We must be grateful that there are members of the Regent House willing to give so generously of their time; but it is also clear from the Report that other bodies, and our principal officers, also devote a tremendous amount of time and effort to meeting the Board, providing it with information, and answering its questions. These questions seem from time to time to range far beyond the specific remit of the Board (which is to scrutinize on behalf of the Regent House the Annual Reports of the central bodies, the main Allocations Report and any supplementary Report dealing with the distribution of funds, and the University's accounts) and they must prove a distraction from getting on with main-line University business.
This brings me to my second point. When the Wass Syndicate proposed that there be some devolution in decision making and, in particular, that the central bodies should have the capacity to decide things on behalf of the University, we wished to keep them accountable to the Regent House. Hence we proposed the introduction of the Annual Report and we noted the essential part the Regent House played formally in approving allocations from the Chest. We wanted to ensure that, when these Reports were presented to the Regent House, there was serious consideration of them by the members of that House. But, recognizing that what is everyone's responsibility generally gets overlooked by everyone, we believed, by analogy with the way in which College Governing Bodies appoint two or three of their members to comment to the Fellows as a whole on College accounts and on the activities of College Finance Committees, that a particular body should be set up to scrutinize these crucially important documents and policy statements on behalf of the Regent House: and hence the Board of Scrutiny.
The Syndicate thought that the obvious, efficient, and speedy way for the Board of Scrutiny to proceed would be for it to consider the various Reports for which it had responsibility, to work at understanding the context in which they were written, and then, through its chairman or its members individually, to take the lead at the various Discussions at which the Reports were to be dealt with by the Regent House. This would ensure that no important document would be neglected before its recommendations were Graced. The Board would have had ample opportunity to seek clarification from officers or from the central bodies, and if it had concerns these could be raised in the Discussion. But it would also be part of its responsibility to explain more in layman's terms the background to what was being proposed and the reasonableness or otherwise of the content of the various Reports. The central bodies would have an opportunity of replying to the remarks made in the Discussion, and, if the Board were ever not wholly satisfied, they could call for a ballot or, at that stage, but only then, publish their own formal written Report, clearly focused on a matter of particular concern.
The advantage of this procedure is that the central bodies would be kept truly accountable to the Regent House, business would proceed briskly and according to a reasonable time-table, there would be certain intensive times for activity on the part of the Board, but overall its duties could be properly discharged without great expenditure of time or requiring the duplication of much documentation.
I hope that the Board might consider adopting this approach, at least for a trial period. It might mean that the work, while very serious, was less time-consuming for everyone for being more clearly focused, and that the slight air of carping criticism and of staleness which has hung over the Board's Reports would be blown away. The Regent House could be properly assured that the main Reports of the University had been read, understood, and put in context by some of their number, and the Regent House could be satisfied that the central bodies had been held reasonably to account.
My comments are not meant to be other than positive; but I see the Board set on a course that involves considerable work for many; by discharging its duty by way of an annual written Report it has become bureaucratic and slowed down the work of the University, and diminished any impact it might have had on the great issues of the day. It has not, therefore, really fulfilled the main purpose for which it was established. I hope that the Council might ask the Board to consider a change of tack: not in any sense to diminish it but to see whether or not it could discharge its functions more effectively, in a more timely way, and with a lighter touch.
Dr J. S. L. MCCOMBIE (read by Mr R. J. STIBBS):
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Board has raised an important issue in respect to the outside earnings of University officers and the fact that the University, unlike most other universities, does not require disclosure of such outside earnings. However, I wish particularly to comment on a related matter, namely the University deductions or 'tax' of College emoluments under Schedule V of the regulations for the stipends of University officers. (While in aggregate the sums involved are trivial, this is not true for the individuals concerned. It means that certain College officers receive, at the margin, a net remuneration of only 30p in the pound.) The University finds itself in a most anomalous position where the only deduction from the University stipend comes from earnings from College offices and not from any other outside earnings, regardless of whether or not they contribute to research and enhance the reputation and standing of the University. (The only case where University permission is required for an officer to undertake outside work is in the case of teaching for another institution during Full Term.)
I must especially take issue with the Board when they take the view that the University 'tax' on senior College officers is based on the 'eminently reasonable principle that part of their full-time commitment is lost to the University'. This assumes, erroneously in my view, that there is a dichotomy, apart from in the legal sense, between the Colleges and University and that duties performed on behalf of the former are competitive with, rather than complementary to, those of the latter. This has been extensively discussed in another context with respect to College teaching and promotion to Senior Lecturer and the appropriate conclusion has been reached. In other universities, the time spent by academic staff that is in the University paid for by the Colleges (on admissions, tutorial responsibilities, etc.) falls directly upon the Departments. Indeed, what is the difference in principle between the contribution to the University, broadly defined, that a Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, and say, a Director of the Postgraduate Programme make, where the latter in some Departments is paid handsomely, inter alia, for a related role in admitting postgraduate students? The University has recently implemented substantial increases in the emoluments of academic administrative posts (Heads of Departments, Secretaries of the Faculty Boards, etc.) but these receive no deduction even when the payments exceed one-fifth of the top of the University Lecturers' scale. Indeed, a Secretary to certain Boards of Faculty could in 1998 in principle earn up to £8,571 and Heads of certain Departments £12,857 in addition to their stipend. Surely a Senior Tutor is making no less a contribution, although different, than these to the efficient running of the University?
It has been argued that under Statute D, II, 9, the University has the power 'to preclude a University officer from undertaking any work outside the scope of his or her office or to limit the amount of such work'. This is taken to imply that the University has the power to restrict excessive consultancy work but cannot use this Statute to restrict College duties when they are putatively at the expense of University duties. (I leave aside the immense practical difficulties of the University invoking this Statute with respect to outside earnings.) Hence, it is argued that there is the need for the University to exercise the current deduction from College emoluments. But this argument simply further demonstrates the inconsistency of the present position. If Statute D, II, 9, cannot be invoked for work paid for by the Colleges, then such duties must, by definition, be within 'the scope of his or her office'. If this aspect of Statute D is, in fact, applicable to College duties, then it would be more equitable to abolish the University deduction and treat both outside earnings and College earnings on an equal footing.
Finally, it should not be forgotten that holders of College office are already penalized in that such duties neither counted towards the award of a discretionary payment nor will they be taken into account in the Senior Lecturer promotion stakes. This is not true in the case of similar duties in other universities.
The numbers of University officers covered by Schedule V are small and the aggregate sum involved is negligible but its deduction causes justifiable resentment. It is time the University introduced some consistency in this issue and either abolished the University deduction or introduced it for all outside earnings.
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Cambridge University Reporter, 21 July 1999
Copyright © 1999 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.