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Report of Discussion

Tuesday, 1 May 2001. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House of the following Reports:

The Report of the Council, dated 19 March 2001, on the Unified Administrative Service (p. 560).


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am the Secretary of the School of the Physical Sciences. The Needs and Research Committee of the Council of the School have asked me to speak today. I should declare the personal interest that my own post is not within the Unified Administrative Service (UAS).

An uninformed or hurried reading of Annex 1 could easily lead to a mistaken impression that all School, Faculty, and Department administration is to be within the remit of the new Academic Division, or even that all such administration is already within the remit of the General Board Division. This is not the case. The Departments in my own School are served by a group of more than a dozen professional administrators occupying established posts of Departmental Secretary, none of which are within the structure of the UAS. I am not aware of proposals from the Departments to bring any of these posts into the UAS.

I ask the Council to give explicit mention to the superb service provided by these dedicated officers, and to recognize that they have needs for support and for information which are no less than the similar needs of members of the UAS.

Professor J. R. SPENCER:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this Report proposes a radical reform of the University civil service, the main features of which I understand to be as follows: (i) concentrating responsibility for all aspects of the administration in the hands of the Registrary; (ii) removing the Secretary General and the Treasurer from most administrative responsibilities, whilst allowing them to retain jobs at a similar level; (iii) rearranging the administration into a series of 'Divisions'; (iv) importing - apparently from outside the University - a new layer of highly-paid 'senior professionals' to run them; (v) freeing these new Directors from the control over 'management and service delivery' that, in Cambridge, has traditionally been exercised by committees composed of dons.

Radical reforms are usually designed to cure grave ills. This Report does not tell us what the ills afflicting the University administration are. However, I can mention one, and possibly two, alarming symptoms.

The first is the catastrophe over CAPSA, the after-effects of which are still with us.

The second is possibly associated with the first. The University administration seems recently to have acquired a high rate of staff-turnover, indicative to me of low morale.

I am not certain whether my impression here is correct, and I would like to ask for some information. How many people have left the University administration in the last twelve months - other than by retirement at the normal retiring age? How many people so left in the twelve months before? How many administrative jobs are now vacant, and how many were there vacant a year ago? From a group of people of this size, what would we expect to be the normal annual wastage? And is our recent rate of wastage more or less than this?

The question I ask myself about these proposed reforms is this. Are they likely to prevent another CAPSA? And will they solve the issue, if there really is one, of staff morale?

The optimists among us will answer 'Yes. The CAPSA fiasco shows how unprofessionally the University is run now. These proposals will make us more professional. More professionalism means less blunders, and a happier environment for everyone to work in.'

Unfortunately it is possible to see the matter from another angle.

I, and I believe many colleagues, are distrustful of the notion, apparently underlying the Report, that we need to import 'professional administrators' to run the University. When the Report talks about 'professionals' in this context, it presumably means technocrats from the outside world who have had no previous interest in the world of scholarship. Obviously, the advice and help of such persons is often quite essential. But the risk with 'professional administrators' of this type is that they sometimes have their own agendas, and little sympathy with the aims and aspirations of dons. This is born out by my own experience of dealing with the administration of this University. The central parts, run by people who are 'professional administrators' in the sense that they are people who have devoted their professional lives to running universities, have usually been responsive, considerate, and helpful. But of the more detached parts, run predominantly by 'professionals' from the outside world, the same has not always been the case. I also notice, with gloom, that it was 'professionals' of the sort apparently envisaged as the new Directors who were originally brought in to administer CAPSA. If we have fallen for the idea of bringing in 'professionals' from outside to solve our administrative problems, then Shakespeare's words seem appropriate to the case:

My love is as a fever, longing still

For that which longer nurseth the disease

The fundamental problem with reforming the administration of any university is the one of who owns whom, and how the academic community ensures that the administration serves its needs, instead of vice versa. We want the University to be a co-operative enterprise, in which the administrators and the academic staff work harmoniously together. The traditional Cambridge method is to set up committees, composed of ten or twenty over-busy dons, whose permission the administrators must supposedly ask before they can do anything. That this method is often ineffective as a means of control, whilst also being time-wasting and inefficient, I would be the first to admit. But some method of control is clearly needed - and I am not clear that I see an effective method of control spelt out in the Report.

For myself, I am much attracted to the suggestion Professor Colin Humphreys made during the Discussion on CAPSA: that the new Divisions should be headed up by Pro-Vice-Chancellors, who are not administrators, but senior dons.

As regards the morale of the administrative staff, I suspect the prime need is not for a group of new and more highly-paid Chiefs. It is for extra Indians - and better pay and conditions from such Indians as are still left on the reserve. I have the impression that many of the administrative staff are at present seriously overworked, and that the reasons for this include staff shortages, and in some cases, the extra burdens imposed by CAPSA.

I do not want to be wholly negative about this Report, because there are obviously some sensible proposals in it. It is impossible to quarrel with the basic idea of a unified administration, with a clear hierarchy of responsibility. There are also obvious reasons why the administration of the University needs to be streamlined. I respect the people who have signed it, and the time and effort that has been expended in trying to devise solutions to problems that are undoubtedly real.

But this Report comes out less than a year after the University witnessed a serious failure of administration over CAPSA. Despite several requests, we are still waiting for a proper explanation of what happened, why, and who (if anybody) was responsible for it. For myself, I think the University should analyse and digest what went wrong there, before it finally decides on how the administration of the University is to be restructured.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, while I feel duty bound to contribute to this Discussion, I see little real point. If, according to the Report, it is intended that 'the revised Divisional structure and the arrangements for quality assurance [should] operate from the academical year 2001-02', then all the planning and preparations are done, as indeed is much of the implementation (as illustrated by the appointment of various unestablished Directors over the past few years). The machinery is in place, and the expenditure has, by and large, been committed. This consultation with the Regent House is a farce. Nevertheless, let us hope that we can pull back from the brink.

In the Report we read that 'with the advice of the Registrary, the Council are now satisfied that the University will have a continuing need for the professional advice represented by the various unestablished posts of Director'. Moreover in last week's THES we read that 'in a report on the planned changes, the university's elected council said that the catalyst had been last year's disastrous implementation of CAPSA, a financial accounting system that brought Cambridge to a virtual standstill'. Catalyst - what utter tripe. Who was closely involved with the implementation of CAPSA - the then unestablished Directors of Management Information Services and Finance (who have of course since 'left' the University). We are being asked to consider a Report where the 'proposed' administrative structure has been tested, and has been proved to be lacking, or to be more precise, a total disaster. A review of the Discussions over CAPSA indicate that there were warnings. Where did they come from? The academic and academic-related staff. Whose input and, most importantly, oversight is to be marginalized and sidelined by the current 'proposals'? The academic and academic-related staff.

What more could an administrator want from paragraph twelve. We read that 'there is no longer a tight relationship between those Divisions and the University's governance arrangements' (note, not 'there will be', but 'there is'). In other words, the administrative service has wriggled out of the oversight of academics. 'The Council and the Board have established a Joint Committee to consider those arrangements. Any proposals for change will be the subject of wide consultation.' In other words, any attempt to re-establish academic oversight has been kicked into the long grass. 'It is however clear to the Council that the role of the committees must increasingly be in the development of policy and that the use of committees for the management of service delivery is neither possible nor appropriate.' So, supposedly academics develop and administrators deliver - that sounds good - but where is the academic oversight that ensures and assesses delivery? CAPSA explained.

For the help of the Council, who might for once respond to my contributions, I have made my main point. The University has positive experimental evidence that the 'proposed' reorganization does not work. I believe that most academics wish to be in an innovative, academically led, university, rather than one that is badly managed by administrators. There is a very good reason why we have used titles like Registrary, Treasurer, and Secretary General in the past, rather than Director.

I wish to briefly make a few other points. Not all types of academic leadership are equal. The University has benefited in the past from its broad-based committee system where there have been multiple inputs from informed academics. Inter alia the current 'proposals' would marginalize the General Board, while apparently giving power to a few. From paragraph seven: 'it is also of the first importance that those principally charged with guiding development of policy, the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Registrary, the Secretary General, and the Treasurer…'. This again seems to me to be a retrograde step, as illustrated by recent issues of the THES where the actions of Sir Richard Sykes have even managed to displace the views of Gillian Evans.

Also, what exactly are the Secretary General and the Treasurer going to do? For instance, I always thought that Faculty Boards developed the University's learning and teaching strategy. However if we read the Report carefully we find that 'the Council will report in detail on these arrangements, including the further definition of the Secretary General's and the Treasurer's portfolios, when they have received and considered the report of their Working Party on the Vice-Chancellorship and Pro-Vice-Chancellorships'. So in reality we are not really sure what the roles are to be for two of the most highly paid administrators in the University. Moreover, we learn that 'the Council believe it is appropriate for them to wait for this further report to allow them, in particular, to review the role of the Secretary Generalship which under the arrangements the Council are envisaging will be analogous to a Pro-Vice-Chancellorship'. Who would bet against the proposed positions of Secretary General and Treasurer being one-tenure posts?

Finally, I note concerning the Directors that 'the stipends of the officers concerned will need to take account, inter alia, of market forces in professional areas of high demand'. I interpret this as an opportunity to use all those very well paid, but as yet unused, steps above the professorial steps in the last revision of the stipends scale. If there is spare money in the kitty then we need to use it to attract first-rate academics to Cambridge, something I fear that my Department may not have uniformly been able to do in the recent past. We may be able to survive with less than optimal administrators, if they administer rather than manage, but we cannot survive without first-rate academics.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When the diners spit out the pudding, the proof is typically taken in the negative.

We have had a Director imported from industry in the past. Nick Robinson's time in the Management Information Services Division (MISD) was marked by the departure of a large number of technically informed staff, a catastrophic collapse in morale, and a complete loss of faith in MISD by the University at large.

To err is human, but to repeat the error, it appears, takes a Report to the Council.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the present tripartite system for central administration has served us well for many decades. A common first reaction to suggestions for change may well be the old adage, si non frangit nulle fixit (my translation attempts to echo the appalling grammar of the original). One can always spot oddities. For example, it has long seemed to me that the Board of Examinations should have been under the General Board rather than the Council; but why worry too much if it all works well? Parenthetically I take the opportunity to note that that Board does its work very well, as I know at first hand from having collaborated closely with them for quite a number of years over Part III of the Mathematical Tripos.

It will be replied that we should be prepared to review our system at reasonable intervals, and I would agree. However, the changes proposed do not consist of the tidying-up of detail, that would inspire only a yawn. It is a major overhaul. What I think the Regent House may object to is the tactic of enforcing it by fait accompli: creating the required new senior posts unestablished and seeking the necessary changes of Ordinance some years later, as the Board of Scrutiny has pointed out. The same tactic is in evidence over the proposals for the Sidgwick Site, and it is not too late to vote non-placet for that reason! The tactic is then taken to its obvious final state in one of the present proposals, in section ten and Annex 2. Further modification to the new structure of eight Divisions would be at the discretion of the Council; it would not be set out in Ordinances. But the rest of us, including the structure of Faculties, Departments, Institutions, etc., have to work in compliance with separate Ordinances, which govern our actions, examinations, and other arrangements. It is hard to see why the central administration should exempt itself from that discipline. Good proposals for change may well be approved, but we don't want the administration making up the rules as they go along.

In what follows, references to posts are intended to be abstract without referring to the current holder. I think that the proposals confer too much responsibility on the Registrary. By section seven the Directors of the eight Divisions (excepting himself) will report to the Registrary; by section nine he will personally appoint all the staff of the central administration up to and including the grade of Assistant Registrary (as well as being highly influential for promotions above that level). In two places in the Report (section five and section ten) he is the ipse dixit quoted by the Council for accepting the present proposals, and by a recent vote he takes personal responsibility for the University Centre! Will he or she ever sleep?

I am also concerned that, by contrast, the posts of Secretary General and Treasurer are being sidelined (section eight). Instead of being in charge of Education and Property respectively they go outside the proposed divisional structure, where they are to be given somewhat mistily described and longer-term tasks. These will be the subject of a further Working Party (section nine). I would expect the Regent House to have sight of that report before we proceed further. In the outside world of real management, holders of posts being discussed in these terms would be seeing their lawyers.

In section twelve we meet a new Joint Committee with the remit of considering the relation between the Divisions and the University's governance arrangements. Members of the Regent House may be a little unclear what that may mean, and may be wondering whether we will get sight of that committee's conclusions. One conclusion is already announced in advance: '... the role of the committees must increasingly be in the development of policy and that the use of committees for the management of service delivery is neither possible nor appropriate'. In my opinion, the development of policy takes place by a dialogue between those concerned with broad and long-term affairs and those whose task is to implement it; the forum for that dialogue is the expert committee.

We have been here not long ago. In their reply (p. 298) to my comments on the proposed abolition of the University Centre's committee structure, we read that 'The Council believe that it is essential that the University continues to be academic led in its governance and management'. In their reply to the non-placet fly-sheet (p. 533) (there having been no placet fly-sheet), the words 'and management' were mischievously omitted. The policy appears there as 'academic leadership and direction will continue to be essential but they are not to be confused with management, still less with management by committee'. The Council should be invited to put the matter straight, as their reply to the non-placet was at variance with what they said earlier. Their reply also revealed little knowledge of catering and its risky features.

Returning to the present Report, it may be that the plan for eight Divisions forms a possible way forward, but we have been given far too little information, and such as we have been given is not encouraging. Two working parties are still sitting on important aspects of it. We still have no answer to the sort of question that comes to mind. For example, which Division will be in charge of sporting facilities and of Physical Education? It could be the Education Division, Estate Management, or Finance. I sat for many years on what is now called the Sports Syndicate. We dealt with long-term questions like planning for the new Sports Hall, including planning its eventual management. We also allocated grant-in-aid to the various sports clubs each year, from a given budget. The knowledge gained from the latter illuminated the former. Student input contributed to both. So far as I can see, the Syndicate would be abolished, and the long-term task absorbed into some body with a far wider remit. As for the sports clubs, that would be management done by our administrators behind the scenes; in fact probably by the Registrary himself, with time on his hands!

I conclude by asking the Council to withdraw the present Report, do some more homework, and bring the Regent House something more forthcoming and less conjectural.

Professor A. W. F. EDWARDS:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, on 6 November 1968 I became a member of the Regent House and looked forward to participating in the government of my university. Three days later all but one of the Graces incorporating the recommendations of the First Report of the Council of the Senate on the administrative organization of the University were approved. That Report was in response to the Grave Report, so-called because the chairman of the Council committee which produced it was W. W. Grave. The other members were J. S. Boys Smith, Lord Butler, and Sir Frank Lee.

The Council's Report had said 'Recommendation 13 of the Grave Report is that the offices of the Council, the Financial Board, and the General Board should be amalgamated into one University administrative office, under the control of the Registrary as the principal permanent administrative officer of the University. The Council concur in this recommendation'. Mr Rattenbury, the Registrary, retired in September 1969 and was replaced by the Treasurer, Mr Macpherson, who was in turn replaced by the Deputy Treasurer, Mr Gardner. The expectation had been that Mr Rattenbury's retirement would be the appropriate moment to implement the policy.

The new principal administrative officers not only obstructed these changes, in the case of the Financial Board by simply failing to bring forward the legislation which the University had agreed in principle by Grace 4 of 30 October 1968, but they steadily advanced the fiction that the administration of the University was split into three equal parts nominally governed by the Council, the General Board, and the Financial Board. Simultaneously, the continuing enfeeblement of the Regent House was having the effect of eliminating the influence of the only body superior to the General and Financial Boards, for the Council's original function had been only to promote an orderly flow of Reports and Graces to the Regent House for decision by the governing body (see my article in The Cambridge Review for October 1981).

In order to give the Council some parity with the two Boards, the phrase 'Council institution' was invented in 1970 by means of an unauthorized editorial rearrangement of Ordinances, and used as an excuse for the Council to supervise the activities that were not the concern of the General and Financial Boards. Of the great Syndicates, the Library had already sought shelter with the General Board (the Librarian thought the money was better), the Press sought independence through a new Statute of its own (Statute J), and the Fitzwilliam stayed with the Council (they had a friend at court because the Treasurer was a member of the Syndicate).

Divide and rule was the order of the day, and those of us who challenged government by troika were given short shrift. Historians looking for insight into how the system worked might start with the papers of the Council and the General Board when Old Addenbrooke's was purchased in 1985.

By 1982 a number of us on the Council had realized that another opportunity to implement the proposal for a unified administrative service was approaching. The principal administrators who had entered office around 1970 were about to retire within a year of each other, and in the Lent Term 1982 we persuaded the Council to invite the Registrary, the Treasurer, and the Secretary General to address the Council separately, with no other administrators present, to answer questions about their several tenures. That was more a courtesy than anything, because they said nothing we had not expected.

That accomplished, the Council agreed that at the first meeting of the Easter Term, at the end of our regular business, we would discuss, in the absence of all the administrative officers, how we might seize the opportunity which circumstances had presented. In the event, when the eagerly-awaited moment came the Vice-Chancellor declined to allow the planned discussion to take place, stating that in his view it would serve no useful purpose.

Fourteen years had now been wasted, and still there was no prospect of change. The next seven years were taken up with further attempts to overcome the administrative obstruction of constitutional reform culminating in the enforced creation of the Wass Syndicate whose Report was published in May 1989. It too started its background survey with the Grave Report, and amongst its many recommendations were 'That the Registrary be designated the principal administrative officer of the University' and 'That a unified administrative service for the University be created'. The University overwhelmingly approved these in principle by Grace 6 of 25 April 1990 but another six years were to pass before some of the necessary regulations were put in place by Grace 8 of 9 May 1996.

After having watched the University take thirty years to implement a perfectly sensible recommendation, I believe that constitutional issues should always be kept at arms-length from administrative officers, whose proper professional concern to ensure good administration cannot be expected to favour the sensitive appreciation of the subtleties of democratic government that elected people have a special duty to respect. I also believe that constitutional change should never be contemplated in response to problems of a short-term nature, such as was recently attempted over Discussions.

The Report before us appears to be about administration, yet it is of profound constitutional importance. It proposes that there should be an unspecified number, currently eight, of University officers called Directors, who will give regular briefings in their several spheres of responsibility to the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Registrary, the Secretary General, and the Treasurer, and will attend meetings of the central bodies and their committees (paragraph seven).

One Vice-Chancellor, three or four Pro-Vice-Chancellors, three Principal Administrative Officers, Eight or more Directors, all told sixteen or so highly-paid unelected officers - what chance does an elected Council stand? None whatever. The structure proposed will be entirely out of academic control. To argue that there is ultimate democratic control since the Directors report to the Registrary and the Registrary 'is placed under the direction of the Council' (Statute D,VIII,1) is unrealistic. If the Council proceed with this Report as it stands they will be signing their own death-warrant and that of half-a-dozen centuries of academic self-government. The Council will suffer the same fate as the Regent House. Cambridge will become less democratically governed than any redbrick university.

Let us stand back and see what the problem actually is. Over the past thirty years the University has, in a fit of absence of mind, acquired a large number of employees who are neither University officers nor assistant staff, and it has made no proper provision for them. At the same time national legislation has burdened employers with ever-increasing responsibilities. In February 2000 there were about 1,750 University officers and 2,200 of these unestablished staff, mostly the so-called contract research workers. In 1954 there had been 127 of them, by 1977 there were about 450, and now 2,200.

In 1977 the General Board, of which I was a member, set up a committee consisting of Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, Sir Brian Pippard, and Professor Zangwill who reported that they considered it anomalous that so large a body of people employed by the University should have no mention in Statutes and Ordinances. However, on the recommendation of the Secretary General the Board limited its response to itself inventing and dispensing titles such as 'Research Associate' without an Ordinance, which it had no authority to do (mea culpa, but I was green in those days).

A consequence of this particular fiction was that the General Board itself assumed the responsibilities of employer, which, since only troublesome cases ever came to the attention of the Board, meant that the Secretary General and his staff shouldered the ever-increasing burden alone. As if he did not have enough to do as secretary of the General Board of the Faculties he found himself to be the general manager of a class of employee soon more numerous than the University officers themselves, for which there was no provision in the Statutes, and for whom he had therefore to invent the rules. It is right that these responsibilities should be devolved to a Personnel Division, though the new Division has already shown the dangers of inadequate statutory academic control, for it has so far resisted all attempts to teach it the legal difference between University officers and contract research workers and continues to call us all 'staff'.

It has been remiss of the University to allow the situation to develop in which the majority of its graduate employees are unrecognized in its instruments of government. The University is extremely privileged in law by being allowed to amend its own Statutes to meet changing circumstances, subject only to the approval of the Queen in Council, which has never been withheld. In return it had a duty to make such amendments as would ensure that all those in its employ were appropriately recognized in, and governed under, Statutes and Ordinances. In respect of contract research workers it has failed in this duty.

The University has also failed to protect its own interests. A system which originally allowed individual University officers to run projects involving the employment of one or two graduates on outside money has grown willy-nilly into one in which the University has taken on vast projects, particularly in science and medicine, which there was no compelling reason for the University to incorporate formally at all. Excellent though some of them are, it is difficult not to conclude that the funding organizations, especially the medical charities, are conveniently transferring to the University the onerous role of employer which they should be undertaking themselves. Some of them even have the nerve to dictate conditions of employment.

The tradition used to be quite the reverse, that when a unit supported on outside funds grew to such size and distinction that it became a cuckoo in the nest, it was taken over by its parent organization. This is the origin of many of the institutes which surround Cambridge, such as the former Plant Breeding Institute, and, most notable of all, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. One cannot imagine a better model of how to run a great scientific laboratory than the LMB, yet its members are employed by the MRC and not the University. Close collaboration, geographical, institutional, and personal has ensured a splendid working relationship with the University.

This failure of the University to adopt an arms-length approach to expansion is now leading to a serious distortion of our traditional and successful methods of government. There is no sufficient identity of interest between the University officers and the contract research workers for the two groups any longer to share a system of government. University officers (except perhaps in the Clinical Faculty) identify with the collegiate University of Cambridge and the great freedom which it has traditionally allowed, whilst contract research workers, who, if only because of their greater numbers, can never be absorbed into the collegiate University, have obligations requiring a more managerial structure.

I suggest, therefore, that instead of the Council offering us a style of administration which is inimical to the University's long tradition of academic self-government they bend their minds to detaching from the University the entire contract research constituency and its management by creating a Cambridge Institute of Technology and Medicine and making over to its Trustees such lands, especially in West Cambridge and at Addenbrooke's, as are thought appropriate, through an Act of Parliament if that is what is necessary.

This Institute, unfettered by our quaint insistence on democratic accountability, will be free to develop its own top-down management and planning, and can aim at the symbiotic relationship with its parent University that has been so successful in other cases. For let us not forget that in the matter of symbiotic relationships between institutions we not only have examples such as the LMB, but, closer still, the Colleges with their qualified independence and their science parks, and the trading parts of the University like the Press and the Local Examinations Syndicate. We are old hands at understanding the diverse needs of associated bodies.

We, in the collegiate University, can then devote our energies to repairing the damage to our constitution that the strains of unplanned growth have done, and settle down to continuing the gloriously unmanaged contributions to education, religion, learning, and research which have made us world famous.

'The genius of this University lies in the cautious and careful selection of gifted men, and the natural growth of the fields of learning which they foster; it does not lie in large paper schemes. We should remain true to that tradition' - Sir Vincent Wigglesworth, speaking in the Discussion in this House on 14 November 1961.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, 'subject to the approval of the Report', it says. This Report cannot be 'approved' except by Grace, certainly not by the Council on its own. If this is allowed they will be able to do anything they like in future without challenge on the pretext that merely a 'shadow' decision is being taken. You will not be able to put amendments to the vote or call a non placet. For much of what is proposed here we need Graces and discussion of those Graces, not just a Notice next week with no Grace at all.

The future of the General Board. I begin with the major structural implication of this move to Divisions. It is that we should abolish the General Board and the office of its Secretary.

In the Wass archive is a memo from the then Secretary General.1 'I fervently hope that the Syndicate will leave entirely out of account in publishing their recommendations the likelihood of their being acceptable to the Regent House'. He criticizes 'the spirit of independence' and 'the culture' of 'a self-governing community of scholars which is administered rather than managed'. 'I can think of no useful role for the Regent House'. The response of the General Board to the Wass Syndicate's eventual proposals is in print (Reporter, 1989-90, p. 136ff). It carries forward the priorities of GB.886.634. The paper calls for 'delegation of authority' (to the General Board). It rather deprecates the way 'members of the Regent House regard themselves as sharers in decision-making rather than simply as employees of the University'. The General Board (p. 136) strongly supported the idea that they 'should have certain additional powers transferred from the Regent House'. They disliked the idea that they should have to refer 'recommendations to the Council for decision'. They wanted powers to amend stipends (p. 139). They wanted 'the power to establish Professorships and Readerships' to be transferred to the General Board (p. 137). They simply 'took' it in the case of the Research Professorships, with the resulting constitutional and career disaster at last admitted to in the Reporter of 21 March 2001.

In a recent letter Graham Allen describes himself as a 'policeman'. His automatic out-of-office e-mail reply identifies him as 'Admin1' (so much for your hegemony, Registrary). The reality of the last ten years has been that the Secretary to the General Board has come to believe that he is the General Board. The Faculties have come to believe that their own best interests are served by acting within Councils of the Schools, and entrusting higher decisions to the small group who end up on the General Board. This really means handing them over to whoever is currently acting as Secretary General. The Chairman of the Faculty Board of History wrote yesterday that it will not 'allow' any UTO to choose with whom to hold conversations. He will now be taking that to Graham Allen under Statute C. Many people's personal power games are bound up in the General Board's continuance, for there small talent can obtain large influence and from there it can (and does) sneer at the Regent House.

We can abolish the General Board and start to think again in Divisions of a size appropriately constituted for the scale of the tasks which now have to be discharged. It is quite easy. The General Board is a parvenu in our affairs, created a century ago with the Financial Board to help get the University's teaching provision on a properly funded footing. For a long time it was not thought to need a Secretary. The unimportance of the General Board and its Secretary at the time of the drafting of the 1926 Statutes is apparent from the remarks of the outgoing Vice-Chancellor in 1924 (Reporter, 2 October 1924, p. 45).2

The Wass reforms turned the Financial Board into a committee of the Council, thus upsetting the balance of power. The Wass Syndicate 3 was minded in its skeleton report to propose that the General Board should be a committee of the Council too (2.2.2).4 So the idea of establishing a series of committees of the Council to do the kinds of thing now proposed for the new Directors and their Committees is not new. The principle that power-blocks should be dismantled when they get too big and bossy is not new either.

The future of the offices of Secretary General and Treasurer has to be in question now. We have two officers in their mid-fifties, drawing huge salaries (with secret top-up payments), for whom, frankly, we no longer have any real constitutional use, as this Report makes plain. Do you really want the Treasurer who gave us CAPSA to be well placed to make a bid to be the next Vice-Chancellor? Or perhaps you would prefer David Livesey? We are learning painfully how difficult it is to get rid of senior administrators once they have been appointed. The Director of Finance with a committee; the Secretary to the Academic Division with a committee; that is the way forward.

Please let us not wheel some existing Old Schools officer into this last key position. It needs a real understanding of our constitution; a true 'feel' for the life and work of academics and students; professional competences, including an ability to write with precision and elegance. He should be able to stand up here and charm us all with the grace of his utterance. I understand it is intended for young Graham Allen, without his having to face competition in any properly advertised appointments process. We should have him in that post for twenty-three years. What was that about a new breed of professionally-qualified Directors? Putting Graham Allen into the Academic Secretaryship should not lie in the Registrary's discretion, surely? We, whose working lives will be affected, must have some say.

The new Chief Executive Vice-Chancellor. Under our constitution the Vice-Chancellor is merely the principal administrative officer. If you do not want a Vice-Chancellor who is a Chief Executive you have to stop the Council turning him into one. That is a part of the present plan which has not been spelt out for you yet. Whether the two, now surely redundant, officers should be shut up in their own part of the old Schools with a more powerful Vice-Chancellor is a question which has to be addressed with a degree of frankness I do not read in this Report. 'The Caliph of Cambridge and the Big Corporations' will make a good film.

The only people who stand to gain from a Chief Executive Vice-Chancellor are those who have his ear. It is therefore a matter of concern to read the word 'direct' in the Report of 21 March 2001: 'Under these proposals each of these officers will in future report direct to the Vice-Chancellor outside the structure of the Unified Service.' That 'outside' is crucial. It leaves the Registrary ordering the paperclips. 'The Secretary General will concentrate on the development of the University's learning and teaching strategy, understood for these purposes to include undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and study'. But we thought it was agreed that he must never be allowed near such functions again? The Treasurer 'will concentrate on the acquisition, development, exploitation, sale, and use of the University's assets'. Will she be consulting the Regent House at all from her seat in the Vice-Chancellor's sanctum? They are now to give not 'advice' but 'guidance'. I find that very scary.

These two are to 'work closely with the relevant Divisions and their Directors'. That might allow a good deal of real influence upon affairs and in the end upon 'operations'. The Directors, too, are to have their 'direct lines of regular and systematic communication with the Vice-Chancellor'. Will they even be University officers? When? What monsters shall we breed in that closed-off Vice-Chancellor's Laboratory at one end of the Old Schools building, out of sight of us all? Do you want that row of characters, Broers, Livesey, Womack, Allen, and 'nominated' (not properly appointed) Pro-Vice-Chancellors, such as Lonsdale and Mellors, running everything their way 'outside the structure of the Unified Service'? Where is the Council going to fit into this new world where it is by-passed? It is a comforting thought that when the Roman Empire became bi-polar shortly thereafter it fell.

'The Council will report in detail on these arrangements, including the further definition of the Secretary General's and the Treasurer's portfolios'. It had better. I hope the Governance Committee and the Council Working Party, under the ubiquitous Professor Schofield (perhaps he fancies being the next Vice-Chancellor himself) will get a grip on our history first and consult those of us who have done the necessary research. And if we go ahead with these proposals now in 'shadow form', shall we ever reshape them? This new notion of shadow legislation is very very worrying.

The Divisions. The Divisions, on the other hand, seem to me potentially a good thing, provided their Directors are made to learn and respect our constitution and are not allowed to think they can come here and give orders, or turn into further policemen, Mr Allen. The principle built into the Wass reforms that the Council should 'supervise' the Unified Administrative Service through the Registrary, meant that preliminary moves in a break-up of functions into Divisions have been possible without much fanfare. It was expressly mentioned in the Report which led to the establishment of the Unified Administrative Service in 1996 (Reporter, 20 March 1996, p. 528). We are invited now to approve the completion of this 'division into Divisions'. Each Division (except the Secretariat, Registrary?) is now to be 'headed by a senior professional', to whom it is proposed that the Registrary should delegate 'day-to-day operational management' while retaining to himself 'responsibility for the overall strategic development of the University's administration'. The innovation here is the introduction for the first time in the University's history of the idea that some administrative tasks at least require appropriate professional skills and training. That is to be welcomed.

But we should be careful about these appointments. Shall we find one through this advertisement in the Economist for the Director of Development: 'A energetic doer, with a passion for delivery' who will 'ensure that the University is able to leverage its global reputation and prestige to maximize its potential to raise significant funds'? We are paying headhunters to find us this beast who should be rather happy in the Vice-Chancellor's Secret Laboratory. And are the other Directors to be entitled to hold Professorial Fellowships like Livesey and Womack?

The introduction of a level of specialist professionalism into the administration is an entirely good thing, even though it sharpens the question about the balance of powers between such Directors and the committees their Divisions will continue to service. It will make the committees themselves buck up and have to learn their job at last.

Quality assurance and accountability. Those struck by the lightning speed with which it was possible to send round 'rules' under which the University takes the powers permitted to it under the Investigatory Powers Act to read our e-mails, while we all continue to wait for full implementation in the University of the Data Protection Act 1998 and for long-promised student complaints procedures and reform of the promotions procedures, may be tempted to conclude that the efficiency of our administration is patchy. A sprinkling of points on that.

The professional administration has to be prevented from becoming a fortress inaccessible to the staff and students of the University. It has already begun to seem so with the introduction of the University Card in 2000, the electronic closing of the doors of the administration, and the refusal to allow members of the Regent House to have their Cards validated so that they can go in freely to talk to administrative staff.

Except for one cursory aside there is little on the morale of the ordinary administrators in this Report. 'They are not in themselves part of [the University's] core mission.' But they are enabling the University to fulfil its purposes, so of course they are part of the endeavour. There is a fine line between pride in service and being deemed to be second-class citizens. Something important has been lost sight of in Cambridge, the 'better career structure', the 'genuine career development and opportunities' for members of the administrative staff intended by Wass in 1989.5

'The Council think it helpful to draw greater distinction than hitherto between the development of policy, its implementation, and the management of the Service as a support function' and 'The Council expect that, as professionals in their various functions, the Directors and members of staff in the Service will contribute to policy development through their attendance at meetings of and their advice to the central bodies and their committees'. This is going to require great clear-headedness on everyone's part in keeping separate 'operations' and strategic and policy-making advice and the taking of decisions. It makes a requirement to understand our constitution essential. Sir Alec did not sound as though he did when he flunked the first question on Desert Island Discs.

Reform of appointment to committees is essential (I am weary of saying that). It is urgent that a 'training requirement' be put in hand so that the new professional Directors would at least be dealing with committees whose members understood our constitution and the job they are entrusted with.

We have to improve communication. Why are the Council and General Board Agenda and Minutes still not on the web (Reporter, p. 405)? There has been no shortage of resources to make up rules to allow reading of our e-mails. Which is the more important?

The need for real accountability goes beyond the proposals to ensure a high quality of service. There would appear to be sense in reviving some of the ancient (and in Oxford, modern) functions of the Proctors here, and in enlarging the remit of the Board of Scrutiny, instead of shrinking its remit as the Council has already several times made a bid to do in the Board's short life. And perhaps further strengthening of the powers of the Regent House to initiate legislation?

The proposals in this Report are some of the most radical ever to come before the University, looked at against a background of the history of the development of our administrative service since the Royal Commissions of the 1850s, 1870s, and 1920s came among us.6 The Wass Syndicate's Report is prefaced by a letter to the Vice-Chancellor (Reporter, 1988-99, p. 615), which emphasizes the intention that the proposals be seen 'as an integrated whole'. Part of that 'unified whole' was the proposal to restrain the General Board by placing it under the authority of the Council. Another element was to be the full-time Vice-Chancellor. Another was the creation of the Unified Administrative Service (Reporter, 1988-89, p. 452). It is dangerous to be unclear about the relation of administration and governance as this Report is.

These proposals have the potential to impose salutary restraints on the cosy oligarchy which has got into the habit of thinking it can get away with anything. The powers must not simply move to another place, where unsuitable individuals can again become overmighty. But they will, unless members of the Regent House are prepared to make the effort to understand the way the University is set up constitutionally.

And we must separate these major issues from a number of matters which are in the Report only because of difficulties over the future of particular individuals. We are in danger of further empowering the very individuals for whom we should be giving farewell parties.

1 UA WASS 3, 24 June 1988, GB.886.634.

2 Those who wish to read the research background to these points may do so at http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~gre1001.

3 'The role played by the Financial Board does not justify its present status' (Minutes of the eleventh meeting of the Wass Syndicate, 10 December 1988 (2.7), UA WASS 2).

4 UA WASS 2, considered at the meeting of Saturday, 10 December 1988.

5 Reporter, 10 November 1989, p. 141 and Wass Report, 11.5 and Reporter, 20 March 1996, p. 527.

6 See http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~gre1001.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, hitherto I have been much encouraged by the Registrary's endeavours to reshape our administration into a tightly-knit, well-coordinated, and efficient service; but this latest Report, I regret, gives cause for alarm. It is a matter of the psychology of organizations.

In my research-student days I often kept the morning watch while EDSAC II crunched my data. I whiled the time away by reading Cyril Northcote Parkinson. 'Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.' Of course, Parkinson set out to be entertaining; but we should none of us find his writing amusing unless we saw our own behaviour reflected in it.

He cites the Admiralty. Between 1914 and 1928 the number of capital ships in commission decreased by 67.7 per cent, while the number of Admiralty officials administering those ships increased by 78.4 per cent. What on earth did that increased number of officials find to do? Well, they spent their time writing minutes and memoranda to each other; and when I was elected to the Council I discovered that that was the chief occupation of university committees.

Suppose there is some business of a 'public relations' kind. The Council pass this to a sub-committee and, because the chair of that sub-committee is unsure about 'the way forward', the matter is referred on to as many other committees as can decently be approached for comment. This mode of conducting business has three distinct advantages. First, the point in time at which some decision has to be made is postponed for several months. Second, two or three of the comments received might contain a phrase, or even a whole sentence, that can be lifted and put into a report. Third, the very volume of paper received from other committees provides a natural defence for the sub-committee against any individual who can actually see what needs to be done.

To be fair, much of our Parkinsonism is imposed upon us by central government, which is a virulent source of infection. A Secretary of State observes that universities are supported by state funds, but there is as yet no check on the quality of the teaching they deliver. His civil servants establish a Quality Assurance Agency that engages teams of academics to visit every university department in the land. I do not need to remind anyone of the disruption and extra administration that causes, to say nothing of the funds that might have been put to better use.

That illustrates the background against which our Unified Administrative Service has been reorganized. In my experience our administrators are considerate, courteous, and dedicated people and we are fortunate indeed to have them to look after us. Much of this present Report continues that reorganization; but what is now alarming is the appearance of an acute infection within the administrative service itself. We now have, not only a Treasurer, but a Director of Finance as well. We have a Secretary General of the Faculties and are shortly to have, in addition, an Academic Secretary to undertake the Secretary General's former duties.

'Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion', and the Council have recently been much concerned to find work for these two very senior supernumeraries to do. These present proposals raise a raft of questions and a careful reading of the Report reveals that the answers offered are no more than 'spin'.

The Report identifies 'a need to strengthen the capacity to guide the development of policy on the part of senior officers and also a need for a greater clarity so far as management of the administrative Divisions is concerned. The Council are therefore of the view that it would be appropriate that the focus of the work of the Secretary General and of the Treasurer should be adjusted so as to allow those officers to devote more time and energy to their advisory roles as well as providing a clearer management structure within the University Offices. Under these proposals each of these officers will in future report direct to the Vice-Chancellor outside the structure of the Unified Service. They will however be able to call upon the resources of the Service to support them in their duties and they will work closely with the relevant Divisions and their Directors'.

An earlier draft of this Report included a diagram setting out the new lines of communication. Dashed lines showed the Registrary nominally in command of the administration; full lines showed the by-passes which this Report proposes to carry the modern equivalent of a 'coach and four'. Separate and independent lines of communication leading from the Vice-Chancellor to the administration is a recipe for chaos. If we accept the results of Ian Kershaw's research, it was the mode of government in the Third Reich. It would not be tolerated in any modern business. It is the very contrary of the 'clearer management structure' which the Report promises.

So what is going on? As a member of the Council, I might be expected to know; but I do not. (I mention here that I have been on leave for the past six months and have followed the progress of these plans only through Council papers; but that, I believe, enables me to take a more objective view.) For a plausible reason I turn again to Parkinson.

Parkinson is of the opinion that the optimum size of committee for cabinet government is five. In fact, cabinets are systematically larger than this (our Council has twenty members), and what Parkinson has in mind is that when a cabinet exceeds a certain size (somewhere around twenty to twenty-two), the five members who really matter meet informally beforehand to decide what the Council are going to 'rubber-stamp'. Perhaps that is what is meant by the phrase 'strengthen the capacity to guide the development of policy'.

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I think the lines of administrative responsibility set out in this Report have the potential for disaster. While this is not readily perceptible to the ordinary reader unless he or she reads very carefully, it must surely be obvious to those most concerned in the production of these proposals. I urge the Council to think this reorganization through again; otherwise I fear for the future government of this University.

Miss K. M. JEARY (read by Dr D. R. DE LACEY):

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I have been working with the Old Schools for one year on the RAE project. I am reminded of the ancient Athenian dictum that a woman's virtue lies in not being spoken of either for praise or for blame: I hope that the RAE submission of this University will come to be regarded in this light. I have been managed by professional administrators who have no experience in the area they were managing for a number of years, both in the Civil Service and in local government.

I conclude, after reading this Report:

(i) bringing in professional superadministrators at enhanced salaries would in no way improve the gaps in communication between the University central administration and the Departments. In fact I believe that it would make it worse since these people would have no experience of Cambridge culture or priorities, and the enhanced salaries offered them would indeed breed further resentment, thereby making the situation worse.

(ii) The major problem is actually not an efficiency problem. One is better off with a moderately efficient administration which is on good terms with the majority of those being administered than a super-efficient administration which has alienated almost everybody.

The major problem is the 'reality gap' between some in the Old Schools and the Departments. I suggest that all administrators in the Old Schools should be seconded to Departments for at least six months during their early careers. It is possible that the reverse should occur. And I believe that the virtual exclusion of senior academics from serious administration would be disastrous. In many ways we have already experienced the results of this over the last two years.

I do not believe that in this situation our salvation is necessarily external.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, if we need managers, we need managers who are professionally competent in their respective fields; at the same time we need managers who understand the needs of the University, which are not those of big business. Our experience of importing external managers for administrative divisions has not been good. As one involved in the CAPSA development it was frustrating for me to see how important decisions were taken by people clearly out of touch with the needs of the end-users; we are all still suffering as a result.

Yet senior academics are understandably reluctant to take major periods of time out, and may not necessarily possess all the relevant management skills or training.

Whatever solution is found to our administration, I plead that there should be enough academics involved at senior enough levels to ensure that the management is constantly obliged to demonstrate answerability to the academic community with reference to the purposes which provide our very raisons d'être.

Professor M. SCHOFIELD:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, as you know, I am a member of the Council which signed this Report, so I have had a depressing afternoon soaking up the general anger and dismay expressed today. I would just like to say that I was cheered, however, by a few references here and there to the supportiveness and helpfulness of the administrative staff of the University. On the other hand, we also heard some deeply unpleasant references to named administrative officers. We have sadly got used to this sort of thing; but I want to put on record that I find it absolutely disgusting.

The Report of the Council, dated 19 March 2001, on the composition of the General Board (election of student members of the Board and interim election of student observers) (p. 565).


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, as newly elected CUSU Student Rights Officer, I welcome this Report. Student participation in University decision-making is very important. We are constantly told that we are the leaders of the future. We are the ones who will one day soon be making the important decisions. Indeed, if one looks at the Schneider~Ross report, 70 per cent of University academic staff studied here, and 39 per cent have never taught anywhere else. Therefore, if this is to be a continuing trend, students may as well get some practice at sitting on committees for when the time comes when they themselves hold Chairs and Readerships.

I aim to encourage more students to be aware, at all levels, of University government. If student membership of the General Board is going to be effective, surely all students need to be aware of what the General Board actually does. My first port of call was the Student Handbook, produced by the Old Schools. When I eventually found a copy, I found that the information is there - but it is very brief and opaque. I would suggest some updating of this section so students wanting to stand for election can get a clear idea of their job description.

At present, CUSU has no rep. by right on the University Council, or, if this Grace is passed, on the General Board. Ideally I would have thought that a CUSU representative would occupy one of these two student positions. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree that all students, regardless of their involvement with CUSU, should be given the opportunity to be elected, it would undoubtedly be very helpful if as part of a CUSU officer's job description, they were entitled to a place on both the University Council and General Board.

If this suggestion is not supported by the powers that be - although it does seem a logical step - then may I fully endorse the proposal to hold University Council and General Board elections at a later date to the CUSU elections. We would like to know if the Council is in the process of changing the date of Council student elections to after the student union elections, and if this can be guaranteed for next year so we can put it in our student diary to help increase turnout. This would at least give the newly elected Academic Affairs Officer the chance to stand for election. As the General Board's 'general responsibility' is for the 'academic and educational policy' of the University, one would have thought that the student Academic Affairs Officer would naturally be granted a place. We are the ones being taught - the ones on the receiving end of this academic and educational policy - so it seems an obvious step for students to participate. The sabbatical Academic Affairs Officer is focused on 'academic and educational' issues, and therefore has more knowledge about such things than any other student. This experience and work should be officially recognized by the University, and acted on accordingly. Considering there are two places available for election, I do not consider it undemocratic to have one of these positions on the General Board occupied by a CUSU officer who is, after all, accountable to students.

In conclusion, this Report is welcomed by CUSU. For many years students have sat on Faculty Boards, providing a local level of representation and influence of policy. This move to elect students to the General Board joins up this process and allows participation right through to the end. This is undoubtedly a good thing, necessary and positive for both students and University.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, just three points. It is good that students should be allowed to be present at meetings of University committees. But I think they have reason to complain that, although they are always treated politely, it is with a vague benevolence. It is even patronizing when compared with the no-holds-barred behaviour of senior members of committees towards one another. It can, as I have myself observed, be hard for their voices really to be heard.

I am sorry to suggest that the arrival of student members on the General Board should coincide with its demise. But, as I said in speaking on another Report today, that cannot be ducked. A body set up as a result of the late nineteenth-century realization that the University had no way of co-ordinating its teaching provision has swollen since to a swaggering monster controlling all our lives, academic staff and students alike. Yet if you look at this big bully, you cannot but note that, like so many bullies, it is really very small. It consists of the Chairmen of the Councils of the Schools (structures notoriously bad at consulting the voters of this direct democracy), and a tiny number of nominees of the Council. Oxford has got rid of its General Board. With the new Divisions evolving as they are, it is perhaps time that we seriously considered doing the same.

My final point may seem abstruse but it is in fact of immense importance to our constitution. It is proposed that, while we wait for a change in the Statute to go through, 'there should be a non-statutory scheme approved by Grace for the election of student observers'. First, please note that that is more by way of legislative action than is proposed by way of licence from the Regent House to set up the Divisions and create a new pantheon of godlings among us. Secondly, would the notion in this present Report of a Grace to create a non-statutory scheme create even an Ordinance? How would we know? There has been no theoretical framework for ensuring that it is decided on any clear principles each year what is to go into the Statutes and Ordinances when it is reprinted annually.

If this new proposal is not to be an Ordinance, what would happen if it was disregarded; if let us say Graham Allen or the General Board had one of those macho 'policeman' moments, and excluded the student members of the General Board, and a member of the Regent House wished to invoke Statute K, 5 on behalf of the students? Would the Vice-Chancellor or his deputy be able to say that that was just too bad; there had been no breach of the Statutes and Ordinances? Well, since last Wednesday, probably he would not. We now have another decision in an invocation of Statute K, 5 which is going to transform our laxity about making rules.

On the advice of Sir William Wade, and, I suspect, partly in his words, we have the following: 'In Metcalf and Cox [1895] AC 328, the House of Lords had to decide whether a set of rules made by the University Commissioners in the course of rearranging the affairs of the University of St Andrews had the status of an ordinance. 'It was held that it had'. It was intended to be 'part of the body of law governing the University' (17). 'In my opinion, when the University of Cambridge makes a set of rules of general application, intended to be binding, by powers by which it ordinarily makes binding rules, those rules are necessarily an Ordinance' (18). 'It follows that the rules of the Promotion Scheme' do have the status of a University Ordinance. And it therefore follows that, if those rules are broken, this could be a proper case for invoking the procedure under Statute K, 5' (18).

This is very important indeed to those who are now receiving bad news in the current promotions procedure. It means you can all invoke Statute K, 5 and represent to the Vice-Chancellor that the 'Ordinances' in the shiny pink book of promotions procedures have been broken. It just takes a sentence or two. Professor Spencer, to whose K, 5 'judgment' I refer, was here, and he might have wished to take issue, but he has left. He foresees this difficulty and tries to protect the Vice-Chancellor's office from the flood of invocations which is going to follow. 'I believe that to complain under Statute K, 5 is generally precluded where a procedure under Statutes or Ordinances contains its own special appeal mechanism designed explicitly to correct the error' (12).

Here I think Professor Spencer is on unsafe ground. First, read Statute K, 5. The right it gives any member of the Regent House to make use of it is not restricted in any way, and quite right too. This is our maladministration and mismanagement statute, as was clearly acknowledged when it came into existence as Statute K, 4 in 1926. So if a candidate is seeking to make, not the equivalent of a personal appeal, but a general complaint about cock-up in the implementation of the procedures which happens to affect that candidate, the Statute is the appropriate thing to invoke. Then there is the question which takes precedence, a Statute, or an appeal procedure provided within an Ordinance? And anyway, one can always use K, 5 after the appeal, since Professor Spencer accepts that 'Statute K, 5 provides a 'safety-valve', to be used either where there is no other mechanism available, or where there is and it has failed'.

I am afraid he must be wrong in saying that an appeal procedure would be pointless if everyone could simultaneously invoke Statute K, 5 (12). The Statute has a thirty-day limit for making applications. The appeals process is taking months and months. One would have to put in the K, 5 anyway, so as not to be out of time. I think he is also wrong in saying that no general duty to treat us with justice and fairness is imported into our Statutes from section 202 of the Education Reform Act 1988, so that they can be unjust and unfair with complete impunity.

I note, in passing, that Professor Spencer accepts that the decision made by Police Constable Graham Allen to insist that references from 2000, which were regarded by the Appeals Committee stage (b) as inadmissible, continued in the process, was the wrong decision.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Can I request you to return to the topic under discussion?

Dr Evans: Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am just about to come back to it. (I do not know whether that passage needs to be in the printed record but I am quite happy for it to be so.)

I am sorry if Professor Schofield finds the naming of names 'disgusting', but I rather think that if an officer acts as though he had personal powers, he ought to be held personally responsible. Graham Allen was within his powers, apparently, to make a series of wrong decisions and give instructions that they be followed. The rights of academic staff do not appear to weigh in the equation at all.

But do not despair, for now it is going to be open season for invocations of Statute K, 5, and I suspect the sheer nuisance value of that may get us the long-needed reforms.

Let me return to the problem raised in this Report by the attempt to create shadow legislation of uncertain force. We are in a position of uncertainty over many rules and guidelines in the University. Let us take those new guidelines sent round by the Personnel Division under which 'in the interests of the Institution' and at the wish of Heads of Institution and who knows who else, people's e-mails may now be read and their telephone conversations listened into. ('Intercept mail to a Cambridge account on request of Institution', it says on the Computing Service website.) Now the Information Technology Syndicate does appear to have known where its powers ended. So does the Computing Service. It expresses 'our position'. But in the Personnel Division's guidelines, there are threats of disciplinary action and even summary dismissal, not for any senior figures who improperly obtain access to other people's communications, but for the small fry who are going to be spied on. Nor will the senior figures be at risk of its being discovered that they are using our computer service for their own commercial spin-out activities, for no one will be spying on them. They will be treated as though they were 'the Institution', but others in the Department with suspicions will not be able to put in requests about them. Cambridge does, of course, have a respectable tradition of producing spies.

And the Personnel Committee appears to have forgotten altogether that there are students in the University. If this had gone to a General Board with student members, they would at least reminded them that student e-mails are now going to be open to be read too.

Had we had a proper system for the creation of these regulations, with Discussion and Grace, none of this could have got through without questions asked. Ghost Statutes and Ordinances should wait, please, until we have cleaned up our system for making the real ones.

This need to ensure that there is a Grace so that we definitely have an Ordinance and to set about creating a Statute from the first if that is what is intended, should apply to all those codes we keep creating: public interest disclosure, misconduct in research, harassment, and so on.

Will it apply to the startling plan put out by the Board of Graduate Studies to allow our Faculties and Departments to form 'collaborative arrangements' …

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Can you return to the topic under discussion?

Dr Evans: Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I have four more lines to read and I believe your authority does not extend to ruling something to be irrelevant.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor: I am not making a ruling, I am simply requesting.

Dr Evans: May I just read the last four lines please?

… with a university of their choice outside the UK, so that our students may get two degrees for the price of one. (THES, 16 March)? Registrary, please note all this as editor of the Statutes and Ordinances. Council, please rethink this dangerous notion of shadow Statutes and ghostly Ordinances.

The Report of the Council, dated 19 March 2001, on proposed building extensions and alterations for the Faculty of Music (p. 566).

Professor R. PARKER (read by Dr I. CROSS):

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I should like, both personally and on behalf of the Music Faculty Board, to recommend this project to you. It offers us in the Music Faculty the chance to develop a key aspect of our existing research profile, and to make some much needed improvements to our teaching facilities. However, just as important, it will allow us to begin the larger project of making the Concert Hall at West Road become a yet more vital and active part of the University's musical activity. While we continue to be fully committed to maintaining a close link with the University's main music societies, and would also like to develop further links with College music-making and local activities, and while we wish as always to maintain the educational use of the Concert Hall as a first priority, we nevertheless feel that these changes will allow the Concert Hall to expand and diversify its array of musical events, to the benefit of the entire community.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the University Music School is the centre for the University's musical activities. It houses the teaching and research conducted by the Faculty of Music and is the base for several long-established performing societies, in particular the Cambridge University Music Society (CUMS), Music Club, Chamber Orchestra, Opera Society, Handel Opera Group, and several more recently formed bodies, such as the Gamelan Society. While it has been an outstandingly successful and heavily-used building it must now be developed and remodelled in order to cope with increased numbers of students reading music, and to continue to provide a high-quality venue for music-making.

In the mid-1990s the Music Faculty developed a proposal that would meet some of these needs. In 1999, following a successful application to the HEFCE, a project design team was commissioned to undertake a feasibility study. This has resulted in a scheme for the internal alteration and extension of the existing Music School, providing an integrated strategy to meet the present and future needs of music within the University. The cost of the scheme is at present £4m (including a ten per cent University contingency). With funding from the HEFCE and with the support of the Faculty of Music and the University, the project team is now working towards the rapid completion of the first phase of the scheme. However, construction of further stages is dependent on £2.7m being raised, and an intensive programme of fundraising is under way.

The scheme includes a purpose built music technology facility, the Centre for Music and Science. This consists of an extension to the existing building. The new Centre will comprise a sound-isolated recording area and control room, and computer research and teaching areas. It will house technology-based undergraduate teaching, graduate and staff research, and will provide a base for collaborative research.

The scheme will also create two large areas that can be used for performance and teaching. The first will involve an extension of the existing Rehearsal Room and construction of a backstage area. The new Rehearsal Room will be used intensively for rehearsals by the University Music Society orchestras and the University Chamber Orchestra and by the Faculty for lectures and small-scale musical events. The existing foyer will be extended and opened out, and our gamelan orchestra relocated to a new permanent home by modifying existing space.

Phase 2, the second new space, will consist of a new Auditorium with a seating capacity of c. 150 on the east side of the existing Music School, to the north of the old house at 11 West Road. This will be on two levels and will be designed and built to very high acoustical specifications. The new backstage area I mentioned will link it with the extended Rehearsal Room. The Auditorium will provide an alternative venue to the Concert Hall for chamber concerts, particularly student concerts, as well as Faculty teaching, larger-scale chamber group workshops, and rehearsals. The extended Rehearsal Room and new Auditorium, linked by a common backstage area and adjacent to the present Concert Hall, will comprise a world-class performance complex.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank the University for the encouragement and support that it has provided for this project, and to urge support for the recommendations of the Council.

The Report of the General Board, dated 7 March 2001, on the establishment of a van Eck Professorship of Engineering (p. 568).


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, could we know a little more about those 'substantial business interests in the United States and in the Netherlands' from which this money derives?

Registrary, when are we going to be told that all those new conflict of interest lists are in existence and where we may go and inspect them? Then we could see whether anyone in the University was himself involved with any of these 'substantial business interests', could we not?

No remarks were made on the following Report:

The Report of the Council, dated 19 March 2001, on College contributions in the financial year 2000-01 (p. 564).

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Cambridge University Reporter, 10 May 2001
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