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Tuesday, 29 April 2003. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House of the following Reports:
Report of the Council, dated 17 March 2003, on the building of an indoor cricket school at Fenner's (p. 730).
No comments were made on this Report.
Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 17 March 2003 and 12 March 2003, on arrangements for the regrading of certain offices and posts, and for the award of discretionary increments (p. 769).
Dr S. J. COWLEY:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I welcome many, if not all, the aims of this Report. So let me make it clear that I am in favour of both 'a more coherent approach to rewarding academic-related and certain academic officers, holders of comparable unestablished posts, and assistant staff', and in reforms that lead to economies of effort. The majority of this Report should be implemented in a timely manner. However, as might be expected in a Report on stipends and salaries published one week after the end of Full Term, there are aspects which require close scrutiny, and which need revision.
I wish to make three main points.
First, having failed to persuade the Regent House that the University needs a Chief Executive Vice-Chancellor, the Council and the General Board are instead trying to reform the University so that it is run by statutory instrument, or circular.
Second, although at first glance this Report claims to apply to members of staff whose basic salary is below the professorial minimum, the proposed change of Ordinance would apply to all members of staff, and possibly be of (an undeclared) benefit to those academic-related staff on or above the professorial minimum (currently step 31).
Third, there is a surprising omission from the Report in that a major reason (which may have far reaching consequences) for bringing forward proposals on regrading is not mentioned, at least not explicitly.
To my first point. Recommendation 5.2, II proposes 'That the Council and the General Board be given authority to make such changes in the arrangements of the scheme as they consider necessary in the interest of its good management and efficient operation'. These are sweeping powers, and one might therefore expect to see some justification for them in the Report, together with an indication of the type of changes that might be envisaged. I find no justification or examples. There is not even an undertaking to publish such changes in the Reporter.
Such powers might be understandable if there was, say, a time constraint. However, since this scheme is going to run between September and February, there are five months when a review can be undertaken and changes proposed via a Grace. Surely a better way forward would be a proposal that minor changes to the scheme could be made by Grace following publication of a Notice rather than a Report. Such a procedure would delay the implementation of changes that command wide support by less than two weeks, and would have the advantage of transparency.
Point two. Unfortunately, transparency does not seem to be an attribute welcomed by the central bodies. When I read this Report I assumed that, as suggested in paragraph 2.4, the proposals would only apply to members of staff whose basic salary was below the professorial minimum. However, this is not the case. Recommendation 5.2, III is a carte blanche proposal that an appointment to a University office arising from a regrading review shall be made by the competent authority. There is no mention that it applies only to appointments from positions below the professorial minimum, or possibly more importantly, to appointments to positions below the professorial minimum. In relation to this point below I ask a couple of specific questions, but first I need to provide some background.
According to regulation 4 of the Ordinance on the University Administrative Service, the Council may approve such numbers of Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors as it may see fit. According to the Ordinance on Stipends the posts of Deputy Director of EMBS (step 30) and Assistant Director of EMBS (step 28) exist, but I can find no other examples of Deputy Directors or Assistant Directors. Historically there has been a Deputy Registrary, Deputy Treasurer, and Deputy Secretary-General (although I note that the latter has been summarily removed from the Ordinance). These have been paid at the professorial minimum. It therefore seems not unreasonable to presume that at some point the central bodies will propose that at least some Deputy Directors will be paid at or above the professorial minimum.
That is sufficient background. My first question is this. Suppose that a Principal Assistant for Widgets on step 30 (who in fact may have the title, if not the office, of Deputy Director of Widgets) is deemed to be in a post that deserves to be regraded to Deputy Director at step 31 (the professorial minimum) or above. Would that be allowable under the proposed scheme, and if so, is it one of the intentions of the scheme that such a regrading should be possible?
My second question comes in two parts. On appointment Directors are placed on one of the steps at or above level 31. First part: is it possible, or is there any intention, to regrade the base step of a Director after appointment? Second part: if it is possible, or if there is an intention, would Recommendation 5.2, III make it possible for such a regrading at or above step 31 to be made without reference to an appointments committee?
Some may be asking why my preoccupation with step 31. This is the step at which supplementary payments for academic-related staff in the professorial grade kick in. Indeed, the latest approvals of ad hominem enhancements of stipend for such grades were announced in last week's Reporter. I have not found it straightforward to ascertain how many are eligible for such enhancements, but my estimate is 26. Of these 17 candidates were reviewed, 10 were given enhancements, of which 4 were at 39% of professorial salary and 2 were at 53% of professorial salary. Hence in one round approximately a quarter of eligible academic-related staff obtained permanent enhancements at or above 39%. How does this compare with the supplementary payments for Professors? In their scheme the long-term average is to have 15% with temporary 6-year enhancements at or above 39% (at present about 13% have such enhancements). One is tempted to conclude that our administration (CAPSA, deficit, IPR, governance, and all) is viewed by the central bodies as more distinguished than our academic staff.
Academic promotion to Professor is a serious hurdle with external referees and consideration by three committees. The regrading of an academic-related post to step 31 or above should be a similarly serious hurdle, especially given its admission to the gravy train of permanent supplementary payments. Consideration by a Head of Institution, a job evaluation by the Personnel Division, followed by formal approval by the General Board or Council (Appendix, paragraph 6.5), does not seem to be stringent enough. This Report, and especially Recommendation 5.2, III, needs to be redrafted as far as regradings to step 31 and above are concerned; preferably the possibility of all such regradings should be removed.
Point three. At various places in the Report reference is made to current methods of job evaluation, and the fact that in due course, a new common job analysis grading methodology will be introduced. This new grading methodology is likely to be the Higher Education Role Analysis (HERA) scheme, a scheme that the University has been considering at least since mid-1998 (Reporter, 17 June 1998). There are good reasons (e.g. concerning equality of pay) as to why an analytical job evaluation scheme should be introduced. Further, on the introduction of such a scheme a significant number of job regradings may be necessary. The reforms under consideration would therefore seem timely, given that they are likely to result in an economy of effort. However, why was the forthcoming introduction of the HERA scheme, or similar, not made this clear in this Report? Might it be that this is another example where transparency is not particularly welcome?
As I have already indicated, the HERA scheme has been under consideration by the University for nearly five years and the need to introduce an analytical job assessment scheme is becoming urgent. So why the delay? Are Reports, Graces, and ballots to blame? One would hope that our internationally outstanding administrators are not going to bring forward urgent proposals that have to be rushed through without proper consideration after five years of delay. Instead one might hope that a full Report will be published during Full Term that transparently lists all details (including the numerical parameters) of the scheme. Members of the Regent House might then be able to assess whether or not the scheme favours particular groups in the University.
At present details of the HERA scheme in the public domain are sketchy. However, an example may suggest why members of the Regent House should be wary (and possibly why national AUT advocates non-participation in the scheme).
The HERA scheme is meant to apply to all employees of the University. A questionnaire is filled in covering 14 elements (e.g. 'Service Delivery', 'Teamwork and Motivation'), scores are awarded to responses, and then a total arrived at. Research is covered under the element 'Analytical and Research Skills', which has 5 levels ranging from being able to empty a cash register and correctly add up the contents (at level 1) to international research (at level 5). Further, in its raw form I believe that only 7% of the total marks are for research. One consequence of this at another university was that a new lecturer with a multi-role appointment scored more highly than a research professor. I gather than the coefficients of the scheme are under review, and that the 7% may increase. However, even if this happens and, say, the number of levels under 'Analytical and Research Skills' increases, I still anticipate (sceptic that I am) that no need will be found to regrade lecturers, etc. Instead, given that such schemes tend to favour those with multi-role posts who manage staff, would anyone bet against there being an identifiable need to regrade upwards a number of academic-related posts, of course making use of the economies of effort, and no doubt information, provided by the proposed regrading scheme?
On reflection, would it not be better if the current Report were graced after the introduction of an analytical job evaluation scheme, even if it is at the cost of a few more meetings of appointment committees?
Finally, I would like a brief point for which I declare an interest.
In the ballot of Grace 9 of 25 November 1998 the Regent House approved by 320 votes to 283 an amendment with the implication that conferment of the title of Senior Lecturer would not be considered as promotion to a separate office requiring a new contract.
In the Report of the General Board on the introduction of a University Senior Lectureship into the Cambridge structure of academic offices, and associated matters of 23 June 1999 it was argued, following legal advice, 'that a scheme of the kind envisaged in Amendment C would be likely to be regarded in law as constituting promotion'. As a result the General Board decided to proceed with their original proposal.
In the Discussion of the Report on 6 July 1999, Dr J. M. Whitehead eloquently explained why the General Board's argument was 'built not just on sand, but on illusory sand'. She also noted that 'the result of a ballot of the Regent House should not be ignored unless what they have voted for is illegal'. She was ignored, with the result that those of us promoted to Senior Lecturer were presented with a new contract. Although we were not informed in advance of applying for promotion, this new contract was far more detailed than our old one. It therefore came as a surprise that in order to obtain our increased salary we would have to sign a contract including, inter alia, the requirement that 'You are required to observe the University's policies on Intellectual Property Rights as may be decided by the Regent House from time to time'.
One of the revelations for me in reading this Report is the fact that an Assistant Registrary can obtain the same salary increase as a Senior Lecturer without signing a new contract, since an Assistant Registrary's discretionary points cover precisely the Senior Lecturer scale (a point I missed when the relevant Report was published on 15 December 1999, which was of course out of Full Term and shortly after the Senior Lectureship issue was settled). Given the choice of remaining a Lecturer with permanent discretionary points and my old contract, and becoming a Senior Lecturer with the same salary and a new contract, I know which I would have opted for. Fortunately there is a happy ending. As Professor Evans noted in an earlier Discussion, get appointed, sign 'the book', and tear up your contract. It works.
Mr N. M. MACLAREN:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this Report has some worthy objectives. Section 1.1 says that practices should not lead to unlawful or unfavourable treatment of any staff group. Section 2.1 of the Appendix refers to natural justice, says that its objectives are impartiality and fairness, and that they should be seen to be done. This is all good stuff. But, as the saying goes, fine words butter no parsnips.
Why have Computer Officers, who until recently rarely spoke at Discussions or signed flysheets, started to speak out so forcefully on governance and related changes? One answer is that many of us have been discriminated against relative to Teaching Officers for a quarter of a century, and have been begging for reform for that period. It is a great pity that this Report proposes rationalization rather than reform.
Much of this is because Heads of Institutions have not been appointed primarily for their ability in personnel management, and vary as much as any other group of senior people in the University. A very few do not even regard the management of the academic-related staff in their institution as one of their primary tasks. Obviously, this does not apply to the very special case of the Computing Service, and I am not talking about it.
The Report's changes to the mechanisms seem sensible, but I am talking about the scope it, exactly like the existing mechanisms, provides for unfairness, partiality, and even just poor management. I could provide some very serious examples of this, including many that have left the University vulnerable to legal action and most unfavourable publicity, but I shall not do so here. If the General Board or Council want to know what I could have said, I am happy to pass on my remarks, but even then I shall not identify either people or Departments.
Now let us look at the Report, from the perspective of good management practice, the avoidance of discrimination, and the promotion of natural justice. I know the computing arena best, but my points apply equally well to most other academic-related staff.
Discretionary payments are entirely in the gift of the Head of Institution, who has the right to consult other people, but is under no obligation to do so. Section 2.8 of the Report and sections 5.1 and 8.2 of the Appendix state that the applicant has no right of appeal, nor even to have actual mistakes corrected.
Regrading is similar. Section 2.8 of the Report and section 5.3 of the Appendix state that the documentation for regrading consists of two items, one of which is a supporting statement by the Head of Institution. There is no provision for an alternative supporting statement if the Head of Institution does not back the application.
Sections 6.5 and 8.2 of the Appendix state that academic-related officers have no right of appeal, though assistant staff do, and that this awaits a common grading methodology. We all know that there are few things as permanent as temporary arrangements; in this case, a common grading methodology for all posts from a Principal Assistant Registrary to a Technical Officer is unrealistic.
Section 8.1 of the Appendix states that the Head of Institution is the person responsible for feedback, but provides no mechanism for the applicant to question the feedback if it is omitted, unfair, unreasonable, or even factually incorrect. The appraisal mechanism is far better in this respect.
Sections 2.2, 2.4, and 6.11 of the Appendix and sections 1.1 and 2.1 of Annex 1 are very strong on fairness and declaration of interest, yet Heads of Institutions are their own sole judges of when they may have a conflict of interest and need to consult someone else; the applicant has no say. They may even be on the committees that consider applications they have just refused to support!
There is also a major omitted issue, which is that staff have a contract with the University, but the University provides inadequate mechanisms for transfer between institutions. If these existed, then many of the above problems could easily be bypassed by academic-related staff changing institution. In the case of Computer Officers, the Report by Professor Swinnerton-Dyer recommended something close to this, but essentially nothing was done.
Like the Vice-Chancellor, I have worked for IBM, and even that most commercial of organizations has a right of appeal against any manager's decision or evaluation, and the right to ask for a transfer if there is an appropriate opening elsewhere. The British Army also allows the right of appeal against a Commanding Officer's decision, and the right to request a transfer.
The University allows none of this and proposes to allow none. It is, at best, tragic that we are not prepared to adopt successful and widely applauded management practices from industry.
More flexible personnel management mechanisms would help Heads of Institutions even more than the staff under them. Most would welcome less confrontational ways of resolving personality conflicts. It is also common that a Department's requirements change but, at present, transferring the posts and staff to another Department that needs them is ridiculously complex and time-consuming.
The powers given to both the Council and General Board to change the arrangements do not alleviate any of these failings, because there is nothing said about consultation of any sort, let alone negotiation or constraints on such changes. And, to remind people, there was no consultation with academic-related staff during the preparation of this Report.
This Report is not beyond hope, but the Council and General Board should withdraw it to ensure that it provides some mechanisms to deliver fairness, impartiality, and natural justice and not just promise them vaguely. If that is not done now, I predict that the acceptance of this Report will be used to block all reform for many years to come.
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor at this point apologizes for erroneously calling for discussion of the third Report before the second Report (he pleads myopia). He then indicates that he wishes discussion of the third Report to continue.
Dr D. R. DE LACEY:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, when the governance proposals were first released, one fundamental criticism of them was that since they lacked any coherent analysis of the problems we actually face they consequently were unlikely to alleviate them.
What are the problems here? I see three, and I speak not only from my own experience but after discussion with colleagues whom you will not see or hear this afternoon because they fear for their futures.
Perhaps the least significant problem, though a real one, is that the current scheme appears too rigidly institutionally based. Such a local approach to assessing worth can tend to encourage a territorial attitude towards value. Of course, we are each appointed to serve in our various institutions, but for many (perhaps particularly Computer Officers) much of our work is more widely of value to the University. How is the University to reward those who spend long and weary hours, albeit in Departments outside the Old Schools, trying to get CAPSA to work properly, or endeavouring to prevent CamSIS from turning into a comparable disaster? Of course for CAPSA there was the ex gratia payment scheme, but dedicated Heads of Departments could work to ensure the maximum unfairness in its application. Some of us are still waiting .
Clearly this Report is merely retrograde here. Not only are the procedures restricted to the School level and below, but devolution downwards is positively encouraged (Appendix 6.10).
A greater problem, at least as perceived on the ground, concerns the criteria for regrading and discretionary awards. One would have thought that they ought to depend on merit, but in practice they seem to be a random mix of pecking-order and budgetary constraints - I shall illustrate this in a moment.
Again, the Report is discouraging. The total budget for the exercise is to be determined in advance, 'in proportion to the number of eligible members of staff' (3.3, emphasis mine). Hence although of course in some ill-defined and vague sense merit might be primary, the total will be capped. So again all will depend on pecking-order: no change there. What sort of 'natural justice' (Appendix, 2.1) allows all applicants in one Department to have a fair hearing (because not many apply) while in another some are debarred ab initio despite all having an excellent claim to promotion?
But the greatest and most obvious problem with the present scheme is that everything depends, in practice if not in theory, on the Head of Institution. If your Head of Department dislikes you, or is simply forgetful, then you can forget all hope of advance. I have been given verbal promises of upgrades since my very first year in my current post. But there are always excuses, somehow the formal procedures never get started even though each passing Head promised to encourage his successor to expedite them. In my first two years I was invited to apply for discretionary payments. Given the inordinate amount of time CAPSA had taken it seemed appropriate to do so. Sadly, my Head of Institution told me, I could not be awarded one because people senior to me actually depended on these payments and there was not enough to go round. So we did not even get to the paperwork of application. All rather embarrassing, which may explain why from then on I simply haven't even been invited to apply.
The current schema from the point of view of the employee could hardly be more chaotic. So to read 'The proposed scheme provides a more coherent approach' (2.1) is encouraging but what is this? In this brave new world, it is 'The Head of Institution' who 'will be responsible for making a proposal' (2.8). Admittedly 'The Head of Institution will [did the author mean 'shall'? We have come to expect sloppy writing from our administration] inform all members of staff that a review is being conducted' (2.8). This is a great step forward, though one might have thought this to be the responsibility of our Personnel Department. But 'Where the Head of Institution does not support the case [for discretionary increments] it will not proceed further' (2.8); and even when it can proceed further there appears to be no duty for anyone to report back to an unsuccessful candidate - or even to confirm that the case has not simply been quietly dropped.1 As before, then, anyone who steps out of line is thereby in danger of discovering his preferment hopes blocked, because the Head of Institution remains all-powerful.
No wonder my colleagues are afraid.
1 Appendix 6.16 states only that the Head of Institution will be told the reasons for rejection; Appendix 8.1 allows only for the possibility of feedback.
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, this Report is entitled to a welcome if it is to be construed as a partial response to repeated calls for something to be done for assistant and academic-related staff. It is admitted that it is at best 'transitional', for a number of reasons (1.4), so imponderable that I notice that the General Board is merely 'mindful' of them. For once, it does not dare to 'believe' what it says. It would be helpful to have a fuller explanation of the immense difficulties the Personnel Division faces in sorting out the mess it inherited.
This is the 'promotion' procedure for everyone except academic staff. Except that it isn't. Promotion is precisely what it does not offer. Your post may be regraded. You may get some 'discretionary' extra money. But you personally have no proper career prospects in the University of Cambridge because your personal achievements cannot be recognized and rewarded in any manner comparable with those of academic staff. It tidies up that 'upgrading' procedure of 1995 and a few other odds and ends with somewhat inflated claims to 'harmonization' (1.1) and 'rationalization' (1.3).
This is not at all the 'greater coherence' we keep being promised (2.1). That sounds harsh. I am not unaware of the scale of the problems, but I think we should all appreciate having them shared with us. Nothing is likely to make a workforce of highly intelligent and articulate people more restless and resentful than having decisions made about their working situation without asking them.
Let us take the Computer Officers. As I understand it, their work extends over an immense range from basic technical support, rather like that which a laboratory technician provides, to the highest echelons of programming which makes an original contribution of international importance. Their salary scale and ranking does not reflect this range, nor is there any visible system in the creation of posts to ensure that horses run on the right courses and computer staff of the highest calibre are given scope for the original work they can do while provision for such tasks as the distribution of ink cartridges is made sensibly, and at the right level. This large and growing band, many of them University officers, many of whom are not but should be, desperately need a knowledgeable and open-minded study of what they do and how it should be rewarded. Promotion or upgrading?
Are there really distinct worlds of academic staff (some promotable and others regradable?) 'Equivalences' are proposed. The office of Assistant Director of Development Studies and that of Assistant Director of Studies in International Relations is on an 'equivalent' salary scale to that of University Lecturer and it is proposed that these offices should be 'converted' to University Lectureships so that their holders may apply for academic promotion. The question of the salary spine (1.4) becomes very important if equivalence of pay is to be taken as a basis for moving people from one category of staff to another and not merely up and down within their existing category. We already have the anomaly of 'professorial' Fellowships being held by senior administrators and Stephen Cowley has given us pause for thought on the new implications of that for equivalence with academic staff promotion.
In the interests of 'coherence' all the upgradings and discretionary payments are to take effect from 1 January (1.3). But no, 'occasionally, a case will arise' where the Head of the Institution decides that it is in the interests of the institution to consider an additional increment 'outside the annual timetable'. The example given is the need 'to retain a member of staff who may otherwise wish to accept an offer of employment elsewhere'. So your best way of getting more money will be to pretend you are going to leave. Your pay-packet will smartly fatten up no end. I am asked what the alternative is. I would rather we lost one person than treated a lot of others unfairly by comparison.
The Personnel Division will be alerted to these 'occasions' by the relevant Personnel Consultant (3.10). I find this worrying. I am not at all clear that the Personnel Consultant system is working as it was intended to. It is high time for some large-scale independent review of this small phalanx of our army of workers and what they are doing.
The idea was, I understood, that they were to be available equally to help and support staff and to advise Heads of Institutions. They seem to be turning into instruments of the management and they are gradually acquiring huge and unconstitutional personal powers. They are relied on and cited by Heads of Institution as though their word was law in the University. We need a clear statement of their remit and the training they have received. If other people's 'roles' are to be subjected to 'rationalization' Personnel cannot legitimately make exceptions of its own staff. Once their 'role' is better 'profiled' we should probably add to their number so that they really can be available to help the actual employee and not just the tottering untrained 'management' of the Heads of Departments.
Regrading is to pass 'transitionally' out of the hands of Appointments Committees and into the hands of 'the competent authority' (undefined) (4.1) and once more the Chairman of the Personnel Committee (untrained) is to 'rule' if there is any 'difficulty' (3.11). There is surely a conflict of interest here? He will have chaired the committee whose decision has led to the 'difficulty'.
Openness is expressly ruled out at (3.6) by allowing the (untrained) Head of Institution to 'review each member of staff' and make his proposals, without input from the member of staff or a proper application, without criteria or any right for the member of staff to appeal. I say 'without criteria', though of course the procedure has a heading in block capitals 'CRITERIA'. The 'criteria'? 'Pending the introduction of a common role analysis methodology and criteria therein, evaluation will be through existing methods of role profiling/job evaluation'.
Merit (3.2). If the post is centrally supported, the Head of Institution's recommendation will be accepted. If it is not, it will be accepted only if funding is 'identified' to meet the cost of a regrading. So equally deserving individuals can expect quite different future prospects to open before them. Dr de Lacey's remarks on pecking order and patronage are only too well made.
Fairness. I will confine myself to just one sample horror. There is a lot of noise in the procedures about natural justice (procedure 2.1 and general principles 1). Someone is dimly aware that there are two rules of natural justice, for there is 1.1(ii) 'The person must have the opportunity to be 'heard' fairly'. How can it possibly have escaped the notice of whoever drew this up, the Personnel Committee and its Chairman will all his new 'discretion', the Director of Personnel, the General Board, and our vigilant new Council, that the member of staff gets no opportunity to be 'heard' at all? He cannot apply. He cannot submit a case. He cannot appeal. There is no systematic way of finding out what he actually does, how well he does it, whether the job gives him room to be 'outstanding' or parts of it are being progressively taken away from him so that he is on the road to redundancy.
The Council saw a secret report on Governance Development Needs (dated 13 February, 2003) which in my view ought to have been published like the Schneider Ross report, for our money paid for it. It proposes a spot of training for those serving on committees and the Council, seminars to teach them 'supportively' to 'hone' their 'skills'. It needs to go a bit further than that if this Report has got this far without anyone noticing that they have left out one of the two rules of natural justice altogether.
Heads of Institutions will be able to make and mar careers of assistant and academic-related staff now at a snap of their fingers when they can spare a moment from deciding which academic staff are to get one of this year's cash-limited promotion opportunities. And there is that unpublished Report of the Finance Working Party calling (86) for even more localized personal power for the barons and Big Leading Players. No training required and demonstrably no understanding of the University's constitution or domestic legislation.
For once more we are to entrust the administration of this muddle to the Council and the General Board, who are to be 'given authority to make such changes in the arrangements of the scheme as they consider necessary in the interest of its good management and efficient operation' (5.2, II). So are these 'arrangements' Ordinances? We are gracing the delegation of the power to create and amend them, so yes, I think they are. The General Board can make Ordinances under such delegation under Statute C. The Council cannot. A rethink, please?
Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 17 March 2003 and 12 March 2003, on the implementation in Cambridge of the 2002 pay increase for non-clinical academic and academic-related staff (p. 732)
Professor D. W. PHILLIPSON:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, I prepared these remarks on the assumption that this particular Joint Report would be considered in second place on this afternoon's agenda, before the Report which we have just considered, because the remarks which I am going to make apply to both these topics.
The Report under discussion refers once again to a category of staff designated 'academic-related'. Although a list is published of offices deemed to belong to this category, I have never been able to find any definition of it, or any statement in the University's Statutes and Ordinances which supports a division between academic and academic-related offices. I emphasize that I do not, on this occasion, raise any objection to the detailed financial proposals contained in this Report. I am, however, deeply concerned at what I perceive as a tendency for University officers to be categorized in a manner which runs counter to our regularly published and widely distributed Statutes and Ordinances.
The division between academic and academic-related offices has appeared in several recent statements and directives emanating from the University's central administrative offices, including the recent Staff Guide, the introduction to which was signed by the Vice-Chancellor. This document stated that appointments to the staff of the University are 'to one of three types of post: academic, academic-related, or contract research'. By contrast, Statutes and Ordinances recognize University officers and assistant staff. Statute U, headed 'Academic Staff', states specifically that it applies to all University officers except the Chancellor, the High Steward, the Deputy High Steward, and the Commissary; there is no mention that I can find anywhere in Statutes and Ordinances of academic-related staff. The Staff Guide stated, however, (I believe incorrectly), that Statutes and Ordinances 'list a range of academic-related offices'. I once asked the Personnel Division for a definition of academic-related staff: all that they could supply was a list of examples, every one of which was in fact academic, in the terms of Statute U.
I am well aware that the term 'academic-related staff' has been used for many years by such bodies as the Higher Education Funding Council and the Quality Assurance Agency. It may therefore be permissible for this University to use the term informally in contexts primarily addressed to those bodies, such as the December 2002 Self-evaluation. But it is wholly wrong for the Council and General Board to issue a Report which purports to clarify the position of members of staff but which does so in a manner that contradicts our Statutes and Ordinances. This has exacerbated, to my personal knowledge, the confusion, uncertainty, and seriously reduced morale caused to many University officers and members of assistant staff by the recently published Staff Guide. If Statutes and Ordinances require revision (which in some areas they undoubtedly do), let them be revised, not ignored.
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Times Higher Education Supplement of 25 April had a front-page spread condemning Government proposals for 'golden hellos'. When it comes to demonstrating that there is equal pay for equal work, 'employers will have a serious problem objectively justifying any difference in pay'. I have pointed out before that the University of Cambridge is abandoning any pretence of adhering consistently to its published salary spine. New-comers can now negotiate their own pay, so we are well ahead with golden hellos.
And we also depart from the salary spine so as to allow secret payments to the favoured among those already here. This Report proposes that 'the supplementary payments made to Professors and certain other officers be increased by 3.5%', giving some 53% extra (£26,333), some £39%. Bear in mind the decision to limit the numbers of promotions from now on on financial grounds. So two supplementary payments of 53% equals no Professorship for someone else in this year's promotions process. I do not know on what basis the awards on that scale given to unnamed senior administrators (Reporter, 24 April, p. 800) were 'objectively justified' (Dr Cowley has made some alarming points about the vagueness of the process), but I can now tell you something about the 'objective justification' process for supplementary payments to Professors. Your letter tells you that 'the Vice-Chancellor will decide' and gives you the names of his Advisory Committee, though it does not tell you what procedure they all follow. Not a word.
It is high time this system of nice little earners and special deals was reviewed and made visible to the Regent House. The Notice in reply to these remarks will no doubt say that we gave our permission for this secrecy by Grace. That does not mean we cannot decide to require transparency now. The Regent House has learned a thing or two since about being too trusting in matters of financial control. A mere summary of the Report of the Finance Working Party has been properly published in the Reporter. The whole may be found in the cam-only domain on the Web. Para. 94 admits that the Working Party 'did not have sufficient information to identify teaching costs by course, School or Department' and that 'this is clearly an area that needs further work'. That does not suggest that there is much of a basis for calculating pay against provision in one of our most salary-intensive and important functions.
Some, it seems, may not even get the basic agreed increase. 'In the case of contract research staff and other staff supported on non-central funds, payment of the increase was conditional on funds being available to meet the cost of the increase from the relevant funding source.'
But do not be downhearted. There is to be 'rationalization' - to go with the 'greater coherence' of personnel policy we keep hearing about? You can see they are making reassuring progress with that coherence. We are invited elsewhere to abolish the University Assistant Lectureship, but in this Report we are merely to adjust the pay scale for it. Surely a cross-reference should be made at least?
How is this 'rationalization' to be achieved? The Bett Report is the authority cited. It says this can be done only by means of 'job evaluation, or some other job analysis and ranking system'. Cambridge is hard at work on 'new pay grading methodologies underpinned by an effective job analysis scheme'. 'The Council and the General Board hope to be in a position soon to inform the University of the progress that has been made in this area in Cambridge.' I hope the Notice in reply will explain about the trial run for the 'job analysis scheme' and (if I may tease a little) how that particular job was 'role-profiled'.
The Director of Personnel helpfully gave me a copy of the 'role profile review form' referred to in another Report already discussed this afternoon. I make some comments on it here because it relates both to pay and to grading 'methodologies'.
Let me conjure with role profiling the job of Vice-Chancellor of Poldavia University (if the creator of Poldavia will not mind my playing fast and loose with his intellectual property), so that we may see how 'pay' based on this and 'grading' methodology is going to work out under the new rational dispensation. I include the evaluative comments used in the Objective Justification exercise.
Working context (a few sentences on the purposes of the team, work area).
The mission of the University is under review, but it is understood that it is shortly to become a business. Whether Plc or Inc depends on the success of plans to merge with an American academic business corporation and what is to become of those new CMI Ltd Knowledge Integration Communities. The current post-holder has frequently said that he wants to get rid of all that Latin. That would certainly be objective justification for a 53% supplementary payment at least, in our view. High time the University was 'modernized' from the top.
Organization chart (drawing a structure showing the immediate manager, peers, and subordinates in relation to the whole).
There are various charts lying about in the Registrary's office. It is understood that none has been right yet. It appears that those archaic Statutes and Ordinances maintain that the post-holder is merely a peer of thousands of members of the Regent House and that when they all act together, he is their subordinate. That cannot be right, but we cannot find a manager authorized to say any different. If the post-holder is the servant of all these people why is he paid more? We recommend a 53% reduction in basic salary.
Role purpose ( explain why the role exists and what it is there to achieve or deliver).
The Governance Committee had some pretty strong ideas on the role of Poldavian Vice-Chancellor, but that mob in the Regent House did not like them much and now it is all back in the melting-pot.
MR DEPUTY VICE-CHANCELLOR:
Could you please confine your remarks a little more closely to the Report?
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am illustrating, perhaps a little satirically, the process of role profiling leading to the re-adjustment of salary, which I believe is the subject of the Report. I can pause if you like, Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor; I think I have made my point, and if you wish I can move to my last paragraphs in which I sum up some conclusions. Alternatively I could read the last page of my satire.
MR DEPUTY VICE-CHANCELLOR:
I think you might continue, but please bear my comment in mind.
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Indeed, Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am very pleased to do that, and I take it that you do not therefore object to my reading of my final page of satire.
MR DEPUTY VICE-CHANCELLOR:
Not at present.
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Thank you, Sir.
Main responsibilities in order of importance. It would also be helpful if the typical percentage of overall working time spent on each could be indicated.
The post-holder seems to spend a lot of time at dinners. He is also out of the University for a good few days each year in his other position as Non-Executive Director of Vodafone.
MR DEPUTY VICE-CHANCELLOR:
Madam, I think this is becoming something of a personal, identifiable assault, and I would respectfully ask you to continue with the concluding part of your speech.
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am perfectly happy to go to my concluding two paragraphs. If any member of the Regent House would like the remaining remarks in the category of satire, I shall be glad to send them a copy by e-mail.
The 'role holder' gets to sign this assessment, but only to say that he has 'seen' it. If he wants his higher pay he will have to sign it as it is. There is no room for him to make his own comments or to disagree with the comments made by his seniors about his job. But in the interests of 'rationalization' and 'greater coherence' and actually getting the rise, I am sure he will be happy to sign.
My point is straightforward. When you depart from a single visible salary spine you land in a mire of difficulties; you increase unfairness; you create resentment. And you probably have to appoint several more people who can negotiate their own salaries so that they may administer it all and put in for their 53% rise.
Report of the General Board, dated 12 March 2003, on the establishment of a Centre for Commonwealth Education (p. 735).
Mr T. EVERTON:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor, speaking on behalf of the Faculty of Education I very much hope that the recommendation in this Report will be accepted by the Regent House. The Commonwealth Institute have generously offered to fully fund, within the Faculty, a Centre for Commonwealth Education. The establishment of such a Centre presents an exciting opportunity for the Faculty and one that would do much to enhance its growing international reputation.
As the Report states, there already exists a strong Commonwealth influence in the University. The Cambridge Commonwealth Trust was established by the University in 1982 under the Chairmanship of the Prince of Wales to provide financial assistance for outstanding students from the Commonwealth who, without help, would be unable to take up their places at Cambridge. Since 1982, the Trust has supported over 5,000 Cambridge students from over 50 Commonwealth countries. The Royal Commonwealth Society Library is also based in Cambridge and contains over 600 collections of manuscripts and archives and more than 70,000 photographs from all over the Commonwealth. The proposed Centre would look forward to building links with these and other existing bodies (such as the Smuts Memorial Fund and the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre) which already do much to maintain connections throughout the Commonwealth and to promote Commonwealth Studies.
In relation to the academic field of Education, however, the proposed new Centre would provide the Faculty with a unique opportunity to build on its own existing links with the Commonwealth. The Faculty already has, within its postgraduate body, over 40 higher degree students from 20 Commonwealth countries other than the UK. It is anticipated that the establishment of the Centre would result in a rapid increase in these numbers. Additionally, the new Centre would provide a vital international forum for bringing together and sharing the best in education policy and practice across the Commonwealth countries. Paragraph 4 of the Report sets out the aspirations for the new Centre. It will concentrate on research, educational leadership, and project development. For example, it will identify centres of best practice in primary and secondary education in Commonwealth countries and work with them to disseminate their practice to others. It will work with the Commonwealth Secretariat to help address the concerns of Commonwealth Education Ministers and undertake consultancy projects on matters of interest to their governments such as on the development of high quality educational procedures and examining systems. And perhaps of most importance, the Centre will undertake a programme of truly international research activity that will supplement and support, rather than compete with, the world-class research that is already being carried out in the Faculty.
If approved, the new Centre will be firmly embedded within the Faculty of Education but all costs of the Centre (recurrent, capital, and overheads) will be met by the Commonwealth Institute. The Faculty of Education enthusiastically welcomes the proposal and looks to the Regent House for its support.
Professor G. R. EVANS:
Mr deputy Vice-Chancellor it is proposed to establish 'a centre of excellence in the field of educational policy and provision within the Commonwealth'. I have two queries.
(1) Why only the Commonwealth? The answer is that this project was instigated by the Commonwealth Institute. It is to be a 'partnership'. The Government's recent White Paper on the Future of Higher Education strongly approves of 'partnerships'. The difficulty is that when there is a special offer like this it becomes impossible for the University to take stock properly of the broader picture of the needs it might be meeting. Surely if we are going to do this kind of thing it ought to be offered to the world at large? We should be making a 'deal' which leaves us free to address ourselves to our international role without this artificial constraint of limiting ourselves to the Commonwealth. This is a funding-led, not teaching- or research-led proposal. Worthy, as we have just heard, but limited.
(2) 'The School of Education, following its convergence with the educational teaching and research activities of Homerton College, encompasses a wide range of expertise'.
The Report proposes to appoint new senior staff to run and man the Centre. I received an unsigned letter the other day, raising concerns about standards in the making of appointments in Education, which clearly need to be investigated. Its author hints that the University is aware, indeed 'concerned'. I will hand the letter, on request, to the Vice-Chancellor or the Registrary so that an inquiry may be put in hand. Since one must not now, it seems, tease the mighty among us in Discussions, for that is ruled 'irrelevant', I will say no more.
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Cambridge University Reporter, 8 May 2003
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.