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Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the establishment of an Undergraduate Admissions Committee

The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In this Report the central bodies propose the establishment, with effect from 1 October 2004, of an Undergraduate Admissions Committee to replace the Joint Committee on Admissions and the Senior Tutors' Standing Committee on Numbers and Admissions. They also take this opportunity to rescind the regulations for the Committee of Management of the Cambridge Intercollegiate Applications Office. That Office has, since 2001, been titled the Cambridge Admissions Office, for which a Management Group would be established in proposed Regulation 5 in the Schedule to this Report.

2. Undergraduate admissions are increasingly subject to a range of external developments. The Government's and HEFCE's emphasis on widening participation has generated considerable additional activities on the part of both the University and the Colleges, and external scrutiny of those activities. The Colleges, for their part, have increasingly to demonstrate fairness, transparency, and professionalism in their approach to student selection. Many University institutions have become more involved in undergraduate recruitment through, for example, participation in University Open Days and the introduction of subject-specific admissions tests. A number have also had to address the implications for their teaching programmes of changes to school curricula and forms of assessment.

3. Further, very significant, changes, all of which will have an impact on admissions, are likely. The nature of pre-university education will change radically if the proposals contained in the reports of the Department for Education and Skills' Working Group on 14-19 Reform, chaired by Mr Mike Tomlinson, are implemented. The outcome of the 'Fair admission to higher education' consultation being undertaken by the Admission to Higher Education Steering Group, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University, will also need to be addressed by the University and the Colleges. In the event that the Higher Education Bill is passed and that the Regent House approve higher fees for UK and EU students, the University would be required to enter into an 'access agreement' with the Director of Fair Access (OFFA). Whilst the Colleges remain responsible for the selection of applicants, recruitment strategies aimed at achieving an optimum balance of student numbers are of critical importance to both the University and the Colleges.

4. The proliferation of widening access activities, the increased level of external scrutiny of admissions practices and the prospective connection between admissions practices and fee levels have all created a need, on the part of the University and the Colleges, for a better co-ordinated and strategic approach to selection and recruitment. Currently there are a considerable number of bodies with different, but often overlapping, remits in admissions, including the Joint Committee on Admissions, the Admissions Forum, the Senior Tutors' Standing Committee on Numbers and Admissions, committees of Directors of Studies in various subjects, and the Management Committee of the Cambridge Admissions Office. The proliferation of admissions activities has made effective communication between these bodies and a shared view of the locus of responsibility for each type of activity difficult to achieve.

5. In this context, it is now proposed that an Undergraduate Admissions Committee be established. This body, which would replace the Joint Committee on Admissions and the Senior Tutors' Standing Committee on Numbers and Admissions, would be expected to act as the main forum for discussion of all strategic issues relating to the admission of undergraduates, and to be the principal source of advice on those issues to both the University's central bodies and the intercollegiate bodies. The proposed Committee's remit would include:

(i) preparing business and policies relating to undergraduate recruitment and admission processes for decision, as appropriate, by the central bodies and the Senior Tutors' Committee (and other intercollegiate bodies);
(ii) promoting fair and consistent selection policies across the Colleges;
(iii) serving as a forum in which undergraduate admissions numbers could be considered;
(iv) overseeing widening access and participation activity, of any necessary reporting of that activity to external bodies, and of the use of funding ear-marked for such activity;
(v) preparing the University's responses to external consultations on undergraduate admissions matters;
(vi) considering business from the Director of Admissions for the Cambridge Colleges, the Admissions Forum, committees of Directors of Studies in various subjects, the Management Group of the Cambridge Admissions Office, the College Admissions Staff Forum, and any matters referred to it by the Vice-Chancellor, the central bodies or the intercollegiate bodies.

6. The Committee would report, through its Minutes, to the Council and the General Board, and to the Senior Tutors' Committee.

7. In view of the University's and the Colleges' shared interest in the areas covered by the Committee's remit, it is proposed that the Committee be jointly chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and the Secretary of the Senior Tutors' Committee. Under this arrangement, the Committee's business would be divided into items for which the University and the Colleges are jointly responsible or have a mutual interest (for which the Pro-Vice-Chancellor would take the chair), and those which are the Colleges' responsibility (for which the Secretary of the Senior Tutors' Committee would take the chair). The remainder of the membership, set out in the regulations below, would consist of representatives of all parties with an interest in undergraduate admissions. The Head of the Cambridge Admissions Office would attend meetings, as would other appropriate officers.

8. The Council, the General Board, and the Senior Tutors' Committee will, in the event that the establishment of the proposed Committee is approved, review the new arrangements in the Easter Term 2005, in consultation with the Committee's joint Chairmen.

9. The Council and the General Board recommend:

I. That, with effect from 1 October 2004, the regulations for the Joint Committee on Admissions (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 143) and the regulations for the Committee of Management of the Cambridge Intercollegiate Applications Office (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 144) be rescinded.

II. That, with effect from the same date, regulations for an Undergraduate Admissions Committee, as set out in the Schedule to this Report, be approved.

28 June 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorB. J. BRINDEDD. W. B. MACDONALD
 R. J. ANDERSONWILLIAM BROWNJAMES MATHESON
 Z. BARANSKIDAVID S. INGRAMMARTIN REES
 RICHARD BARNESIAN LESLIEG. A. REID
 JOHN BOYDD. LOWTHERJOAN M. WHITEHEAD

16 June 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorN. O. A. BULLOCKD. W. B. MACDONALD
 SARAH AIREYH. A. CHASEMELVEENA MCKENDRICK
 JOHN BELLJESSICA CHILDSROGER PARKER
 TOM BLUNDELLM. J. DAUNTONKEITH PETERS
 WILLIAM BROWNPETER LANDSHOFFS. J. YOUNG

SCHEDULE

Undergraduate Admissions Committee

1. There shall be an Undergraduate Admissions Committee which shall consist of:

(a)the Pro-Vice-Chancellor with special responsibility for educational matters;
(b)the Secretary of the Senior Tutors' Committee;
(c)the intercollegiate Director of Admissions;
(d)three persons appointed by the Senior Tutors' Committee;
(e)one person appointed by the Admissions Forum;
(f)one person appointed by the Bursars' Committee;
(g)four members of the Regent House, being three representatives of the Councils of the Schools, appointed by the Council on the nomination of the General Board, and one further member appointed by the Council on its own nomination;
(h)the Access Officer of Cambridge University Students' Union;
(i)not more than three persons co-opted by the Committee, provided that it shall not be obligatory for the Committee to co-opt any person or persons.

2. The members of the Committee other than those in classes (a), (b), (c), (h), and (i) shall be appointed in the Michaelmas Term to serve for three years from the date of their appointment. Members in class (i) shall serve until the end of the calendar year in which they are co-opted.

3. Members in classes (a) and (b) shall jointly chair the Committee.

4. It shall be the duty of the Committee:

(a)to keep under review undergraduate admissions policy and practice, including matters related to widening access and participation and the funds associated with such activities, and to student numbers, and to make recommendations accordingly to the appropriate University or intercollegiate bodies;
(b)to promote fairness and consistency in the Colleges' admissions policies.

5. The Committee shall establish a Management Group, not necessarily consisting wholly of members of the Committee, for the Cambridge Admissions Office.

6. The Committee shall have no authority in the consideration of, or decision on, the applications of individual candidates for admission, and they shall so discharge their duties as in no way to diminish the freedom or the responsibility of the Colleges in the admission of members of the University in statu pupillari.

7. The provision of Statute K, 20 concerning reserved business shall apply to the Committee as if it were a body constituted by Statute.


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Cambridge University Reporter 30 June 2004
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