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Central Administration - Reviews of the Personnel and Research Services Divisions: Notice

2 August 2004

The Council have received the reports of the Review Committee for the Personnel Division and the Review Panel for the Research Services Division (see Reporter, pp. 534, 571). The reports are published together with the Registrary's response for the information of the University.

The terms of reference for the two Reviews were as follows:

Review Committee for the Personnel Division

To consider all aspects of the structure and performance of the University's Personnel Division; to advise the Registrary as to any measure required to ensure that the Division provides the University with a service of the highest quality, which accords with national levels of best practice in the Higher Education sector, and which concurs with all aspects of the University's published Human Resources Strategy.

Review Panel for the Research Services Division

To report on:

Performance and Achievement:

1. The Division's performance and achievements against the original proposals to set up RSD and subsequent goals set by the Research Policy Committee
2. Future plans, staffing levels, and budgets
3. The administrative performance of the Division, including effectiveness in use of resource; planning; staff development; tracking procedures; and quality assurance
4. The division of responsibility between Heads of institutions and the Division and any consequent effects on resource allocation
5. The views of internal and external users of the Division's services
6. How the Division's performance compares with best practice in other UK and overseas universities

Organization and Structure:

1. The mission of Cambridge Enterprise
2. Whether Cambridge Enterprise should remain within RSD, be an independent division of the UAS, be outside the UAS, or be external to the University as a wholly owned subsidiary
3. How the research and technology transfer related activities of the Corporate Liaison Office should relate to the activities of RSD and Cambridge Enterprise
4. The purpose, organization, management, and source of funds for seed funding of new enterprises by the University

The Council have accepted the recommendations in the reports and have authorized the Registrary and others concerned to take the necessary action to implement these recommendations.

REVIEW OF THE PERSONNEL DIVISION OF THE UNIVERSITY OFFICES: REPORT (JULY 2004)

Introduction

1. Personnel management, and the management of what has come to be called human resources ('HR'), are vital to the organisation of a modern university. In recent years they have become far more complex. National legislation has created a succession of new obligations upon employers, changing an employment relationship that, only a generation ago, was largely untouched by statute law. In addition, some funding bodies have become more demanding about the management of staff they support. As a result, some Cambridge practices, often embodied in the Statutes and Ordinances, have been overtaken by external requirements. Added to this there has been the steady growth of the University in size and complexity which has changed and increased demands on personnel policy. This Review, however, is limited to the structure and performance of the Personnel Division of the University Offices, and how it can best manage these changes. It is not a review of University personnel policy.

2. The Review Committee was established by the Council as part of the first wave of rolling reviews of the divisions of the University Offices, the central administration of the University. The terms of reference of the Review Committee are:

'To consider all aspects of the structure and performance of the University's Personnel Division; to advise the Registrary as to any measure required to ensure that the Division provides the University with a service of the highest quality, which accords with national levels of best practice in the Higher Education sector, and which concurs with all aspects of the University's published Human Resources strategy'.

3. The members of the Review Committee are:

Professor W. A. Brown (Economics and Darwin) (Chair)
Professor Dame Sandra Dawson (Management Studies and Sidney Sussex)
Mr P. K. Fox (University Librarian)
Professor P. J. Luzio (Clinical Medicine)
Professor J. K. M. Sanders (Chemistry)
External member: Dr Marion Kimberley (previously Director of Personnel, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of London).

The Administrative Secretary was secretary of the Review Committee.

4. The Committee called for evidence. More than 60 submissions were made, mostly from Heads of Department or equivalent, or others with responsibilities for staff management; these came from all Schools of the University. Submissions were also made from non-school institutions and individuals. The Review Committee carefully considered all the statements and evidence, which are referred to later in the Report and are listed in Appendix A. The Review Committee received from the Director of Personnel a self-assessment of the Division (extracts from which are given in Appendix B) and a letter from the newly appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Personnel. Except as published in the Report, these submissions are confidential. The Review Committee are most grateful to those who helped them with their work by making submissions in this way.

5. The Review Committee met both the Director and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Personnel. Members of the Committee also met the Registrary, the chairman of the Staff Development Committee, some members of the staff of the Division, representatives of the trade unions, and a University Officer who had submitted evidence.

The Division

6. The Division was formed relatively recently (in 1999), from parts of three previous central organisations in the University: the Assistant Staff Office (which supported the Assistant Staff Committee and the University and Assistants Joint Board and was principally concerned with personnel matters relating to University assistant staff), the secretariat of the Work and Stipends Committee (a Joint Committee of the Council and General Board, which dealt with similar matters relating to University officers), and part of the Research Grants and Contracts Section (a joint service of the General Board and Finance Committee, which dealt with business particularly concerned with research staff supported by outside funds). There were significant differences in the ways in which these three organisations operated, partly historical and partly reflecting the different nature of the University's (and national) employment rules for the various categories of staff. At the time of the Division's formation, the University's personnel practices and procedures were in many cases out-dated, and overstretched.

The Division's achievements

7. The Division has had some major achievements during its short existence. These include:

Problems facing the Division

8. Such a major reorganisation takes time to bed down and there have clearly been a range of problems:

Developing the organisation of the Division

9. Management. The management structure and operational capability of the Division are inappropriate for the innovations under way and the range of services required. There is an immediate need to strengthen the managerial capacity to bring this about. But more appropriate divisional structures alone will be insufficient to achieve the improvement in direction and co-ordination of policy and administration that is called for. The Director must be clearly tasked, and allowed the freedom, to implement policies endorsed by the Personnel Committee, and to do so single-mindedly.

10. At present the senior officers of the Division are the Director and the Assistant Director. The wide variety of areas and topics to be addressed mean that there is too much high-level policy and managerial work in the Division for these two officers alone. Both the Director and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor suggested to the Committee that extra posts of assistant director should be instituted. Some financial provision for this already exists in the form of a vacant middle-ranking administrative post. The Review Committee recommend that a structure along the lines proposed be implemented. There would be some, limited, extra cost. In outline this is a structure of three assistant directors, each with well defined functional responsibilities. One might also have general divisional management responsibility assigned by the Director. The main functional fields of the three officers might relate to policy, operations, and staff development, but they and the Director should work together as a team, integrating these areas. Clear management briefs for all these senior officers and the Director must be developed. The new appointments would be likely to be of experienced people from outside the University, who would be expected to have, and maintain, good working knowledge of employment law and employment practice.

11. Legal advice. It was represented to the Committee by some of those making submissions that it would be useful to have an in-house employment lawyer: the Committee do not take this view, preferring that good professional work in the Division carried out with a working knowledge of the law should be supplemented, where necessary, by up to date external advice. It is important that the employment rights and responsibilities of the University staff are interpreted as arising from the wider and over-riding context of employment law as well as from the University's own Statutes. The duty of the University as an employer requires that it consider the rights and responsibilities of individual employees in the context of those employees' responsibilities to their colleagues.

12. Integration. Once the Division's management has been improved, steps should be taken to transfer into the Division the Finance Division's pension administration, the Finance Division's salary and payroll section, and the Occupational Health Service (the role of which should also be reviewed). Staff development would form a principal part of the responsibility of one of the assistant directors. This unit should also have a revised strategic role.

13. Information Systems. Some of the problems encountered by Departments (particularly those of poor data and perceived unreasonable delays in issuing routine material about individuals) are partly a consequence of the out of date personnel IT system. It is absolutely essential that a comprehensive HR IT system is developed, capable of integrating personnel, payroll, etc., permitting full cross-field interrogation and analysis. It is therefore important that development of the new CHRIS system is vigorously progressed, that its architecture is well defined and pre-tested, with a view to priorities for operational management (in co-operation with potential users, especially administrators in academic Departments), and that, through CHRIS and otherwise, more modern methods are adopted as soon as possible by those parts of the Division which process work about individual staff.

14. Decentralisation. At present there is no consensus among the senior officers of the Schools as to whether or how far there should be increased decentralisation of personnel administration to the level of the Schools. The Review Committee recommend that the Personnel Committee undertake an examination of this possibility, which better IT provision would greatly assist. It would not be necessary for all Schools to adopt the same model. There might be some which prefer to continue to receive a central service in many functions provided by the Division, whereas in others decentralisation to large Departments, but not small Departments, might be more appropriate. Other models would also be possible. Appropriate service level agreements (and regular assessment of value for money) are needed. Such changes would have implications for the present personnel consultant service. Personnel consultants at present value the opportunity to have both 'territorial' responsibility for groups of University Departments, and the opportunity to take part in the Division's central policy development work, or other important project work. Both these opportunities should be maintained whatever degree of decentralisation to Schools is adopted: in particular it is important, not least for career development purposes, that personnel consultants in Schools should be part of the professional family of HR specialists working in the University, which embraces the staff of the Division.

15. Employee Consultation. It was suggested to us that the University could improve its consultative arrangements with its employees at all levels. It was represented to us that the long-established formal Joint Board does not now appear to serve a useful purpose. The recently instituted informal consultative arrangements, on the other hand, were appreciated. There will shortly be national legislation embodying the requirements of the European Information and Consultation Directive. The Review Committee recommend that the University consider more effective arrangements for informing and consulting its staff.

16. Bench-marking. Cambridge has not yet developed sufficient bench-marking of resource application against comparable successful universities and we need to do more. This applies in relation to the Personnel Division as to other parts of the central administration. The Committee recommend that bench-marking should be developed with a view to ensuring that the service provided by the Division (and other administrative organisations) can be tested against appropriate comparators, to provide a greater assurance than at present that good value for money, and good quality of performance, are being achieved, tested against well-defined service level statements.

17. Service agreements and quality assurance. Appropriate service level agreements (and regular assessment of value for money) are needed in order to ensure service at School and departmental levels.

18. Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

(a) Although the Division already has made substantial progress in rationalising structures and improving the University's personnel systems, the task is far from complete. There are both immediate and longer-term problems to be solved through improved management

(b) The Division has achievements to its credit. In a relatively short time it has made substantial progress in many areas from a position which growth in size and complexity of the University and changed external circumstances had left personnel management open to many criticisms. But there remain significant problems.

(c) All the Division's work must relate to the broad interests of the University as an institution of teaching and research. The Division is perceived as being risk averse in personnel management and not always able to take a broad enough view of the University's interests in particular cases. Information issued by the Division is often unhelpfully presented, in too complex and too technical a form.

(d) Management and performance must be improved. In particular, enhanced managerial capacity is needed in the Division: additional posts of Assistant Director should be created and clear management briefs for these posts (and the Director) should be developed.

(e) It is unhelpful that the Occupational Health Service, pensions, and payroll are outside the Division. They should be brought into the Division as management capacity in the Division improves.

(f) The strategic role of the staff development function should be reconsidered, restated and integrated with other personnel functions, according to the defined needs of the University.

(g) The strategic role of the Occupational Health Service should be reconsidered, restated, and integrated with other personnel functions, according to the defined needs of the University.

(h) The successful development of a comprehensive HR IT system, embracing personnel, payroll, etc., is crucial if satisfactory service is to be delivered. The architecture of the new system must be well defined so as to permit operation, interrogation, and analysis across all the fields required. The new CHRIS IT system should therefore be developed and implemented as soon as reasonably possible, particularly in order to help service to Departments.

(i) An examination should be made of the decentralisation of personnel administration to the Schools. The same model need not be adopted in each School. Better IT provision would assist this. Personnel consultants in Schools should, for professional purposes, be part of the University-wide professional HR family; and should continue to benefit from the opportunity to be involved in policy or project work conducted in the Division, as well as personnel management conducted in Schools.

(j) The University should consider more effective arrangements for informing and consulting staff.

(k) Bench-marking and service level agreements should be developed.

W. A. BROWN, Chairman
16 July 2004

Appendix A
List of respondents.

Appendix B
Extracts from the Director's self-assessment of the Division.

APPENDIX A

EVIDENCE SUBMITTED

School of Arts and Humanities
Faculties of Classics, Modern and Medieval Languages, Music, Oriental Studies, and Department of French (Heads and other administrators)
CRASSH

School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Faculties of History, Law (Chairman and former Chairman)
Departments: Museum of Archaeology

School of the Physical Sciences
Departments: Chemistry (Head of Department and various administrators), Physics (administrator)

School of Technology
Departments: Chemical Engineering, Computer Laboratory, Engineering, Management Studies (Heads and administrators)

School of the Biological Sciences
Departments: Biochemistry, Experimental Psychology, Plant Sciences, Pharmacology (Heads and administrators)

School of Clinical Medicine
Departments: Medical Genetics, Oncology (Heads)

Service Institutions
Careers Service, Director
Continuing Education, Acting Director
Counselling Service, Head
Library, University, (Deputy Librarian)
Programme for Industry, Director

Other Submissions
Centre of South Asian Studies
Executive Director CMI
Wellcome-CRC Gurdon Institute
President of Lucy Cavendish (formerly Principal Establishment Officer, FCO and Diplomatic Service)
Members of the Southwold Mid-Career Seminar run by Staff Development
Eight employees or former employees of the University

APPENDIX B

REVIEW OF THE PERSONNEL DIVISION

EXTRACTS FROM THE SELF-ASSESSMENT DOCUMENT (APRIL 2004)

Background

Organisation and resource

1. The Personnel Division was established within the Unified Administrative Service (UAS) on 1 November 1999 with the appointment of the University's first Director of Personnel. The Division was created out of the Assistant Staff Office (at no. 25 Trumpington Street) and the Work and Stipends Section of the General Board Division and the Research Contracts Section of the Research Services Division (which were both located at the Old Schools). The intention in establishing a Personnel Division was to provide a more coherent and inclusive approach to personnel policy and practice (Notice in Reporter, January 2000).

2. Following the review of the Occupational Health Service, from November 2001, the Director of Personnel was made managerially responsible for the Occupational Health Service at Fenners; deliberately, the service does not form part of the Personnel Division. From July 2002 the Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology Initiative (WiSETI) was attached to the Personnel Division, the WiSETI Advisory Committee was disestablished and WiSETI activities were mainstreamed in the HR Strategy.

3. The present staff complement of the Division is shown at Annex A (not reproduced). As will be seen from the Annex, a number of appointments are supported by additional funding awarded by HEFCE under its Rewarding and Developing Staff (RDS) initiative (see paragraph 15) and are fixed term. The same source of funding is also paying for 50% of the costs of the post of Childcare Information Officer, which is organisationally located in the Secretariat; the full costs of the appointments of the two Recruitment Officers in the Schools of Technology and Biological Sciences; and a member of the Personnel Systems and Administration Section who is effectively seconded to the Management Information Services Division (MISD) for much of her time working on improvements to the Personnel Division's web presence. RDS funding has also allowed the buying in of occasional assistance on a consultancy basis which has facilitated progress in the development of a Career Management Scheme for Contract Research Staff (thus taking forward implementation of the Concordat and Research Careers Initiative) and in the development of disciplinary and other procedures (including work on the Revised Model Statute (the University's Statute U)).

4. The organisation of the Division at present is shown at Annex B. Although some rationalisation of accommodation proved possible in June 2001, the Division continues to operate on both the Trumpington Street and Old Schools sites (paragraphs 21ff).

Governance arrangements

5. The Personnel Committee was established in April 2000 as a joint committee of the Council and the General Board. Reporting to the Committee are:

6. From January 2004 Professor Andy Cliff, who was chair of the Personnel Committee, was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Personnel).

Monitoring

7. The work of the Personnel Division and the Personnel Committee is reviewed regularly in a number of ways.

8. The HR Strategy submitted under the RDS initiative (paragraph 15) was assessed by HEFCE/OPM at the 'emerging' and 'full' stages and is monitored through the Annual Monitoring Statement. Additionally, on behalf of the Funding Council, Deloittes conducted an audit of expenditure against the first year of additional funds. The University's Internal Auditors have also audited the Strategy (see paragraph 19). Finally, the HRS action plan itself contained provision for a review, scheduled for Christmas 2003, which has been overtaken by the current exercise. The Director of Personnel is chair of a UPA/SCOP/HEFCE1 Steering Group overseeing the development of a self-assessment tool to measure HRM effectiveness, which, subject to approval by HEFCE's Board, will be the mechanism for mainstreaming RDS funding in the sector. The Director also chairs a UPA/DLA Steering Group overseeing a sector wide bench-marking exercise on HR performance indicators.

9. A Work in Progress report is made to each meeting of the Personnel Committee and an annual update on activities is made to, and reviewed by the Personnel Committee. Contributions on personnel matters are made for the Annual Reports of the Council and the General Board.

10. The Personnel Committee receives annual reports from the Staff Counselling Service; the Staff Welfare Officer; the Occupational Health Service; regular updates for information on the CHRIS project (paragraph 16);2 and other ad hoc reports, for example a Recruitment Activity Report 2002-03 (October 2003).

Activity since November 1999

Relationships

11. Shortly after the establishment of the Division, consultation was begun in order to inform the development of an HR Strategy (this pre-dated the HEFCE RDS initiative; paragraph 3). The consultation identified concerns about recruitment and retention, institutional culture (in particular perceptions of major differences between staff groups), and lack of management skills, and indicated that changes were desirable in the provision of HR services to the University. Some of these issues were confirmed by the results of the Equality Audit undertaken in January 2001 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/personnel/equality/audit.html.

12. An early initiative was undertaken to develop close working relations with other providers such as the Occupational Health Service, the Safety Office, the Counselling Service, and the Disability Resource Centre.3 Across the UAS the Personnel Division has taken a leading part in two Cross-Divisional Working Parties - on recruitment and training. There are close working relationships with:

13. Considerable effort has been put into developing relations with the trades unions, particularly through informal officer level meetings; with the Colleges (through the 3+3 Group and the HR Forum); and, more recently, with Addenbrooke's Trust (through an HR Practitioners Group) in order to take forward implementation of the Follett Committee recommendations and the new consultant contract for clinical academics.

14. The representation of Cambridge on relevant sectoral bodies has also been increased. For example, the Director of Personnel is chair of the Universities Personnel Association, is a member of the Joint National Committee for Higher Education Staff and associated sub-committees and is closely involved in sector wide collaborative projects on bench-marking and the development of a self-assessment tool (paragraph 8). Liz Elvidge, in the Staff Development Unit, is a Board member of the HE Academy and chair of SEDA (the Staff and Educational Development Association) and Felicity Hunt, the Equality and Diversity Officer, chairs the HE Equal Opportunities Network.

Human Resource Strategy

15. In 2001 HEFCE launched the Rewarding and Developing Staff initiative to provide additional funding for HR Strategies for the period 2001-02 to 2003-04. Annex C (not reproduced) is the Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on a Human Resources Strategy for the University which describes how the strategy was developed up to the point where it could be submitted in June 2002 to attain 'full' status with conditions. The conditions have since been met (November 2002) and the additional funding up to 2004 secured. The strategy itself, which was originally produced some two years ago, is at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/offices/personnel/hr/. Perhaps more usefully for the purposes of the review, at Annex D (not reproduced) is an HR Strategy Activities and Progress schedule which formed the basis for the report made to HEFCE on progress on RDS in the Annual Monitoring Statement 2003 and which was subject to an audit review by HEFCE in February 2004. HEFCE's report on the audit review is at Annex E (not reproduced).

Major activities over the next 12 months and beyond

16. Major areas of activity over the next 12 months and beyond include:

Self Assessment

17. Substantial progress has been made over the last four years, despite the constraints which are mentioned below, in the organisation of the Division, the shift toward a service culture of 'can do' rather than 'can't do' and the development of HR management. While recognising that there is still much room for improvement, the Division has been structured with a view to improving levels of service, for example, through the creation of the Contract Administration and Systems section and the assignment of Personnel Consultants to Schools. An HR Strategy has been developed and has brought significant additional funding into the University (paragraph 15). Recruitment and retention has been assisted by changes such as the abolition of University Assistant Lectureships and the introduction of University Senior Lectureships, improvements in recruitment advertising and practice, and improved financial assistance with relocation. A considerable amount of work has been done on the development of a new reward system. Over 400 role profiles have been assessed using the HERA grading methodology and the Personnel Committee is finalising a Draft Consultative Report which will launch a major consultation exercise in the University this term. There has been a major expansion in staff development provision, particularly in key areas such as leadership, management skills, and staff/student selection interviewing.

18. A range of staffing procedures have been revised or introduced relating to, for example, appraisal, promotion/regrading, probationary arrangements, and career management for Contract Research Staff (CRS). Wherever practicable such procedures have also looked to the harmonisation of provisions across staff groups. Equality and diversity activity has been expanded and made more effective.6 The Division has ensured the University's legal compliance with a steady flow of employment legislation, including the Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment Regulations for Part-time (2000) and Fixed-term (2002) employees, the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, and the Employment Act 2002. Given the time required to promote changes in University Statutes and Ordinances, the Division also attempts to be proactive and give early consideration to impending legislation (e.g. on age discrimination in 2006).

19. The approach to providing an HR function attempts to strike an appropriate balance between the culture, governance arrangements of the University, the need to recruit, develop, and retain staff and other needs, as perceived from a professional HR perspective, of introducing good practice, assuring legal compliance and service delivery. The Division also attempts to balance the (sometimes conflicting) interests of employees, line management and the institution.

Issues and opportunities

20. (a) The context in which the Division operates

21. (b) Internal to the Division

22. An assessment of each of the major functional areas within the Division is given below, which the Director would be happy to discuss further with the Review Group if required.

Functions at the Old Schools

Director of Personnel and Assistant Director of Personnel

23. The Director of Personnel is responsible for the general management of the Division and the Assistant Director for a major part of the Division. They share the development of many major policy matters. An increasing involvement in casework and administration (e.g. the operation of the Senior Academic Promotions exercise) does not allow sufficient time to be given to the management of the Division or to networking within the University to the extent that is desirable. Proposals for the reinforcement of the senior management are set out at paragraph 37.

Personnel Consultants

24. The transformation of inherited professional staff from the Work and Stipends Section and the Assistant Staff Office into Personnel Consultants (May 2000) was a response to concerns that, prior to the establishment of the Personnel Division, HR had not been sufficiently responsive to the needs of institutions. The PCs have had a steep learning curve, building up knowledge of their assigned areas (see Annex F not reproduced) and of Assistant or Academic Staff matters with which they had not previously been familiar. The PVC (Personnel) has consulted with Schools (February/March 2004) over the nature of the PC role and received a generally positive response.

25. The Personnel Consultants have been supplemented by Personnel Officers at AOI level. This has been done as a response to difficulties in recruiting suitably experienced individuals as Consultants at Assistant Registrary level and also in order to provide some career structure. The appointment of a further PC at Assistant Registrary level and the introduction of a level of Senior Personnel Consultants (at Senior Assistant Registrary level, subject to role analysis) would assist recruitment and provide further scope for career and organisational development.

Personnel Systems and Administration

26. Concentration of this section on the Old Schools site since June 2001 has allowed mutually supporting teams, dealing with the administrative work relating to appointments, terminations, etc. across all groups of staff to be established which gives a stable base from which to work and an improved level of service. The section is also responsible for the personnel database and the production of management information, including HESA returns. Annex F also gives details of the responsibilities of staff in the section; additionally, the initial phase of the CHRIS Project has been managed by the section head, Dan Pile.

Recruitment Policy

27. Catherine Fage was transferred from the Staff Development Unit in January 2002 to help develop and take forward activities in the HR Strategy related to recruitment. Although her contribution has been interrupted by maternity absence, she has undertaken a number of initiatives (as reported to the Personnel Committee), including: a value for money study of recruitment advertising; appointment of a new advertising agent (Euro RSCG Riley); adoption of a new house style for recruitment advertisements; redesign and relaunch of the University's Job Opportunities Web page (www.cam.ac.uk/jobs/); improved financial assistance with relocation; and the co-production of recruitment and selection guidelines for Animal House staff.

Equality and Diversity

28. Work in this area has developed significantly since the formation of the Division and particularly since May 2002 when provision was made to allow Felicity Hunt to spend the greater part of her time on equality and diversity matters and to increase the administrative support provided. An Equality Audit was undertaken in 2000, a Race Equality Group and an Equality and Diversity Committee have been established, the Women's Forum initiative has been launched, etc. The Equality and Diversity Officer and the Director of Personnel meet regularly to discuss the programme of work and progress against that.

29. There is a natural affinity with the work undertaken by WiSETI and in other areas concerned with equality and diversity matters such as childcare provision and the Disability Resource Centre. Of course, much E&D work crosses the permeable boundary between staff and students and a matter for consideration is whether, and, if so, how staff and student provision and other areas of equality and diversity activity should come together.

Functions at No. 25 Trumpington Street

Staff Development

30. Staff development activity has expanded in the last four years, although central non-staff expenditure is only c. 0.1% of the pay bill. Details of current Staff Development courses are at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/personnel/staffdev/list.shtml. In terms of provision there has been a deliberate focus on leadership and management skills, new teachers, administrators, and staff and student recruitment and selection. Attention is being given to the assessment of effectiveness of SD provision and, through the Staff Development Committee, setting SD activity in the context of a SD strategy and associated action plan.

31. Nominally, the unit has two heads (Richard Wakeford and Sue Pandey), reflecting the previous, separate provision for Academic and Assistant Staff. These two together with Liz Elvidge and Ian Hewes have preferred to try to work as a team, rather than in a hierarchical fashion. This has operated better than might have been expected. However, given the geographical separation of the unit from the rest of the Division and in order that further progress in SD might be made, a senior appointment needs to be made to head up the unit (see paragraph 37).

Temporary Employment Service

32. This is a self-financing internal temporary staff agency, supplying mainly secretarial/clerical staff, for which the Director approves an annual business plan. Consideration is being given by the Director to possible synergies which might be gained by bringing together Recruitment Policy and TES.

Staff Welfare

33. Kate Merrington provides this service as a single person operation. Before the creation of the Division she provided advice and support only to Assistant Staff but since October 2001 has dealt with all groups of staff in the University. As the annual reports to the Personnel Committee demonstrate, there is an on-going need for the services she provides.

Role profiling

34. The University recognised the necessity of revising its arrangements for pay and reward and under the old New Needs procedure accepted a bid for a non-recurrent grant for a manager and a number of role analysts to work in this area. Subsequently, support for these appointments (all external) was transferred to the RDS funding. Considerable difficulty was experienced in recruiting a suitably qualified manager. With the exception of the one role analyst previously employed in the Assistant Staff Office, all staff in the section are on fixed-term contracts. In order to facilitate familiarisation with the University, members of the team have been given subsidiary Personnel Officer level roles, but these efforts are hindered by the geographical separation from the Personnel Consultants/Officers at the Old Schools.

Resource and restructuring

35. Data from the UPA/DLA bench-marking exercise (paragraph 8) shows costs for the University's HR function below the average for the sector (0.85% of University pay bill compared to a sector average of 1.51%) and fewer staff in the University's HR function dealing with more employees than in many other HEIs (a ratio of HR staff to all employees of 1:94 compared to the sector median of 1:83). Such comparisons have to be treated with care, but the data suggest that HR at Cambridge is under-resourced and under-rewarded; the latter perception is borne out by Russell Group salary surveys which show that generally salaries of established Directors are only around the median for the group.

36. A number of issues, which affect the future structure of the Division, need to be resolved, including:

37. Priorities for any new resource would be as follows:

38. An organisation chart showing a structure which might better serve the needs of the Division and the University is at Annex G.

39. A final point that might be explored by the review, particularly if functions such as payroll and pensions transfer to the Division, is whether 'Human Resources' would be a better designation for the Division than 'Personnel'.

PETER J. DEER,
Director of Personnel
April 2004

Personnel Division Report: Comments from the Registrary

1. I am grateful to Professor Brown and the members of the Review Committee for their evident commitment and hard work. This note sets out my initial reaction as Registrary to the report and recommendations from the Review Panel for the Personnel Division. My comments reflect discussions with the Director of the Division, but they do not pretend to be a considered and detailed comment on all that is in the report. In the rest of this paper I set out my initial comments against the points made in the Executive Summary (paragraph 18 of the report).

2. Mr Deer and I welcome the recognition of what has been achieved so far.

3. The proposals summarised in paragraph 18 and in particular those for the restructuring of the Division are broadly in line with plans being developed by the Director of Personnel. He and I welcome them and will bring a detailed report to the Council in Michaelmas Term 2004 about their implementation. Recommendation 18(j) and 18(k) go more broadly than the Personnel Division, indeed recommendation 18(j) is to the University. Recommendation 18(k) on the development of bench-marking will be considered initially in the Planning and Resource Allocation Office as part of a programme of developing the capacity of the University for self-evaluation and institutional research and in this case building on the national work, referred to in the self-assessment, on HR bench-marking and the development of an HR assessment tool.

T. J. MEAD
15 July 2004

1 UPA = Universities Personnel Association (167 subscribers); SCOP = Standing Conference of Principals for HE Colleges (Personnel Network).

2 The CHRIS Project has its own reporting arrangements - a Steering Group undertakes much of the detailed work, a Project Board is responsible for the strategic management of the initiative and reports through the Information Strategy Group to PRC, as necessary.

3 There is a written protocol, regular meetings of a Staff Services Group (comprising Personnel Consultants, the Occupational Health Service Manager, the Staff Counsellor, and the Staff Welfare Officer) and of the 'POSH' group (the Directors of Personnel and Safety and the Occupational Health Service Manager).

4 Guidance on Redundancy, Voluntary Severance, Early Retirement and Transfers was circulated to institutions by the Director of Personnel in January 2004.

5 19 cases negotiated by the Personnel Division since January 2003.

6 Recognised externally by the award of 'exemplar of good practice' status by HEFCE to the University's Race Equality Policy and Action Plan; also WiSETI was runner up in national 'Athena' awards 2002 and has attracted significant external funding for its activities.

Personnel Division Organization Charts

Annex B [PDF - 20 kb]
Annex G [PDF - 16 kb]

REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH SERVICES DIVISION: REPORT (JULY 2004)

1. In Notices of 24 March 2004 and 21 April 2004, the Council established a Panel to review the Research Services Division (RSD) of the Unified Administrative Service (UAS) under the chairmanship of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research.

2. The Panel invited evidence from members of the University and conducted a series of interviews on 13 and 14 May 2004.

3. This report, to the Registrary, is the result of the Panel's deliberation of that evidence and those interviews.

Preface

4. There is much in this report which is concerned with changes to the structure and operation of the Research Services Division. The Panel wish to emphasise that they found much within the Division to commend, and in particular wish to acknowledge the dedication shown by the staff of the Division. The Division has witnessed an enormous growth in research volume and has suffered greatly from the introduction of the University's new financial system. As noted below, many have remarked upon the continuing improvement in service in the Division. While it is clear to the Panel that a number of substantial changes are required if the Division is to fulfil its role in administering the research activities of the University, we in no way wish to detract from the achievements which have been made in the first four years of RSD's operation.

Executive Summary

5. The Research Services Division was formed in 2000. At that time the research grant and contract income of the University was £109m per annum. This has now risen to £175m. RSD has coped well with this dramatic increase in activity and are to be commended for this, but there are a number of problems which need to be resolved in moving forward:

6. The Panel are firmly and unanimously of the view that Cambridge Enterprise should be split from Research Services and set up as a separate entity. The recommendation is that Cambridge Enterprise be placed outside the UAS but remain inside the University. Cambridge Enterprise should have much the same functions as it has now, but there are a number of issues that a new Director will have to address immediately.

7. The legal group inside RSD is carrying out a great deal of work that is not specific to RSD. The Panel recommend that the group become part of the Secretariat.

8. The Panel also recommend that the research strategy and collaboration component of the Corporate Liaison Office be placed within a new Research Services Division.

Background

9. The Research Services Division (RSD) of the Unified Administrative Service was created by Grace 2 of 2 February 2000, following the Joint Report of the Council and the General Board of 15 December 1999. This created a new division, RSD, responsible for the handling of research contracts and grants, the facilitation of the commercial exploitation of research results, and advising on consulting. In effect this was a merger of the Research Grants and Contracts Section of the General Board Offices, excluding the handling of personnel issues, with the Wolfson Industrial Liaison Office (WILO).

10. By the Notice of 9 June 2003, the Council brought together the Challenge and Venture Capital Funds, the technology transfer functions of RSD (which had largely originated from WILO), the non-educational portions of the Entrepreneurship Centre, and Cambridge University Technical Services (CUTS) under a single organisation, Cambridge Enterprise. Cambridge Enterprise was established within RSD.

11. The Report of 15 December 1999 suggested that bringing together grant and contracts with exploitation would enhance their handling because of 'the close links between these two activities'. The Notice of 9 June 2003 can be seen simply as rationalisation of the exploitation aspects.

12. The Report did not mention the dramatic change in the funding of research activity in the University. In 1994-5 research grant and contract income represented 26% of total University income; by 1998-9 the figure was 34%. The effective handling of research grants and contracts had become even more important to the financial health of the University. This trend has continued; in 2003-4 the figure is estimated to be 42%, if the College Fee Transfer is subtracted from income to give a like-for-like comparison.

13. RSD handles approximately 1,850 grant applications to Research Councils or medical charities each year. This number is rising slowly. Research contracts and amendments negotiated with industry numbered approximately 500 last year, up from 400 the year before. In the pre-award stage, grant handling is straight-forward, while considerable resources are allocated to contract negotiation.

Organisation and Structure

14. The Panel was asked to comment on the following aspects of the organisation and structure of RSD:

15. Research Services Division is made up of the following groups:

16. Many contributions to the Review explicitly requested the reorganisation of the constituent elements of RSD along new lines. No contribution from outside RSD requested maintaining the status quo. It is the view of the Panel that

17. While the Panel accepts that having the two components together provides for some economy of scale, it does not see this as outweighing the advantages of a split. Moreover, while the Panel is convinced that this split is wholly sensible for the long term, it recognises that it is essential in the short term to build trust between the academic community and both components of the current RSD.

18. We recommend that the research grants and contracts component be called the Research Services Division and remain in the Unified Administrative Service (UAS), and that the technology transfer component retain the name Cambridge Enterprise and be placed outside the UAS. The Panel did not reach a definitive conclusion on whether Cambridge Enterprise should remain inside the University or be a wholly owned subsidiary, partly no doubt because different Panel members operated under each approach. The experience at Oxford suggests that the wholly owned subsidiary approach can work. It has even been suggested that a wholly owned subsidiary can be made more accountable than a structure within the University. A prudent course of action would be to retain Cambridge Enterprise within the University and re-examine the issue in the future.

19. The separation will have a knock on effect on the accounting and IT groups in the Division.

20. The Panel wish to emphasise that this separation must be accompanied by effective communication and a good working relationship between the two Directors. Particularly in the case of corporate funding, tensions sometimes exist, typically around intellectual property ownership issues, between the near-term goal to secure current contract funding and the longer term goals of preserving the freedom of academics to pursue future work for other sponsors and enabling the opportunity for academics and the University to realise additional value from future IP exploitation. These tensions only can be resolved if the Directors of the two organisations are of the highest quality and work well together. Moreover, bridging and co-ordination between the new RSD and Cambridge Enterprise will be necessary at lower levels; we recommend that formal mechanisms be put in place to ensure that the external relationships of the two bodies are co-ordinated.

21. The legal group within RSD serves both components and, it could be argued, has the greatest potential for an economy of scale. However, a significant portion of work undertaken by the legal group lies outside RSD; the solution is, in the Panel's view, to separate the legal group organisationally from RSD and place it in the Secretariat, where it can offer services across the University. (We would suggest that, in most circumstances, externally retained legal advice be accessed via the legal group.) There would be an advantage to maintaining physical proximity of the legal group to RSD.

22. The Panel was asked to consider the role of the research related activities of the Corporate Liaison Office (CLO). The role of the CLO is to provide a single initial point of contact for corporations and to be active in developing strategic relationships which encompass a broad spectrum of activity ranging from research collaboration to recruitment. The Panel perceives that the CLO has tended to fill vacuums related to but not wholly contained within their mission, such as identifying or supporting interdisciplinary research opportunities which could be pursued with (or without) corporations. While the Panel recognises the need for such activities, it feels that this is better contained within the Research Services Division rather than in a body focused on the corporate sector.

23. Submissions to the panel on the research related activities of the Corporate Liaison Office (CLO) were positive. The series of seminars run by the CLO, the Horizon Events, were singled out for particular praise. We would expect these to be continued, but from within the new RSD.

24. There are other aspects of the CLO which are not restricted to the corporate sector and which should be examined in the light of other developments in the University.

25. Cambridge Enterprise should retain the elements that it currently contains

However, the balance of activity needs to be changed.

26. Opinion across the University as reported to the Panel, and indeed within the Panel itself, is varied on the mission and required size of Cambridge Enterprise. The Panel are of the view that aiding the transfer of knowledge from the University via commercial exploitation is the primary mission of Cambridge Enterprise, with commercial return for academics, Departments, and the University being a secondary but substantial goal. While Third Stream funding available from HEFCE can be used to invest in Cambridge Enterprise, the University should expect Cambridge Enterprise to more than cover its costs in the medium term. The mission of the organisation must be managed with skill and care given the difficult policy issues which arise regarding matters such as potential conflicts of interest between academics and their colleagues (as well as the University) and near-term financial support versus potentially larger longer-term gains. Within this broad remit, Cambridge Enterprise should develop its own way of working under the leadership of its Director. Appointing a permanent Director should be a priority for the University.

27. Much of the activity of Cambridge Enterprise is directed at business creation. In 2002-03, 26 companies were launched by Cambridge Enterprise. Three of these were genuine spin-outs based on University-owned intellectual property, the other 23 companies were start-ups by staff and students. The Panel was troubled that Cambridge Enterprise could articulate no standards regarding the factors they considered in evaluating whether the creation of a new company should be encouraged. The Panel was also concerned that, in the case of start-ups rather than spin-outs, companies were being created without regard to whether they have a meaningful chance of success. New company creation activities of Cambridge Enterprise should be focused on the quality, rather than quantity of the companies created.

28. For the same period, licensing revenue was flat at £1.8m, although this is expected to rise again in 2004 with more licensing agreements now in place.

29. While the Panel understood the importance of business creation, and indeed would not wish to dampen the entrepreneurial culture which has been built up, many members were concerned that the balance was incorrect, with not enough attention being paid to the licensing of intellectual property.

30. The Panel had the impression that there was a considerable amount of 'entrepreneurial evangelism' originating from within Cambridge Enterprise. There is a unit within the Judge Institute for Management Studies, the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning which provides this function. The Panel was concerned that having this originating from Cambridge Enterprise as well was not giving a balanced message nor allowing Cambridge Enterprise to focus sufficient attention on its licensing activities.

31. The Panel was asked to consider the role of the University in providing early stage funding for new companies, so called 'seed funding'. The Panel received a wide range of input on this question from venture capitalists, receivers of seed funding, and others. There are a number of issues on which there is widespread agreement:

We conclude that the University, through Cambridge Enterprise must take a direct interest in early stage funding. This is not to say that it should be running seed funds directly, unless these are placed at the disposal of the University by outside sources, for example, Government.

It is the Panel's view that this should be developed further by the incoming Director, indeed it should be a point of discussion with prospective candidates for the post.

32. Cambridge Enterprise provides incubator space for start-up companies. Companies pay commercial rates, but have very flexible lease arrangements. There is a backlog of demand for this space. We consider this to be worthwhile and that it should continue, indeed consideration should be given to expanding this space.

33. Likewise, the handling of consulting by Cambridge Enterprise is seen by most contributors as satisfactory and worthwhile. The Panel did not consider the expansion of this activity through more active marketing of expertise within the University.

Performance and Achievement

34. Specific points in the terms of reference with regard to performance and achievement are given after a more general commentary.

35. The Division has coped well with the enormous increase in research grant and contract volume. It would be unimaginable to return to the system of pre-2000 where it was difficult to understand where in the University a research application might be sitting. Although there are currently facts and figures which give rise to concern, it is not stretching a point to say that pre-2000, those facts and figures would simply not have been known.

36. The views of academic colleagues on the overall performance of the handling of research contracts and grants are mixed. Two generalisations can be made. The Division is providing excellent service for standard research grants and there is a widespread noted improvement in performance. Research grants comprise the majority of research income. However, the Division is not perceived as performing well with non-standard work which encompasses most industrial contracts and some clinical-related research grants. While contributors commented positively on the service and response of some staff, there was significant frustration that this is not universal within the group.

37. The handling of material transfer agreements is singled out over and over again as an area of great concern. Effort is needed here to resolve the issues (principally intellectual property and liability) expeditiously and transparently. Steps should be taken to ensure that interested academics are kept more fully informed of the process. Addressing this issue should be a priority activity.

38. The perception of academics is that RSD has a set of procedures which are inflexible. A minor, but illustrative, example is the return of authorised grant application forms from RSD to Departments. Some Departments wished to pick up the authorised forms from RSD by hand rather than wait for them to be sent by the University Messenger Service (UMS). This caused all Departments to be required to pick up the authorised forms from RSD, rather than having a simple option to tick (UMS/pick-up). It should not require a review to produce such a suggestion.

39. While it is understandable that the Division has had to be process-focused in order to react to the rapid increase in the volume of research contracts, there is a need now to change the emphasis to being customer-focused, particularly if the University is to increase the volume of research contracts with industry, and if parts of the University which have not traditionally brought in research funding are to do so. Changing to a customer-focused culture should be achieved by reorganising on academic discipline boundaries (this is already the case within some parts of the Division). For example, having research opportunities targeted more finely, would be beneficial to academics, but would also require engagement of staff from Research Services in understanding what is happening in academic Departments. The School of Arts and Humanities and the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences in particular would benefit from dedicated resource within RSD.

40. The organisation within the Research Collaboration Office seems overly hierarchical; one Panel member noted that a group of seven had three staff denoted as managers.

41. Another internal organisational concern is that there is a Research Finance Group within the Research Collaboration Office which is distinct from the Accounting Office.

42. Specific responses to the terms of reference are provided below.

The Division's performance and achievements against the original proposals to set up RSD and subsequent goals from the Research Policy Committee

43. The original proposals to set up RSD were focused on the synergy between grant and contract handling on the one hand and the exploitation of intellectual property on the other. In the Panel's view this has not been realised. The rather more important issue of the handling of research grants has, in the Panel's view, been realised. The handling of research contracts from industry has been more problematic.

44. Research grants applications are turned around within a few working days. Research contracts, which may require negotiation with sponsors, are generally turned around in 90 days.

Future plans, staffing levels, and budgets, taking into account the University's emerging Resource Allocation Model

45. The proposed split of RSD will help the process of embedding RSD into the Resource Allocation Model.

46. The new RSD should be funded largely on the basis of research contract and grant income, the number of research grants and the number of research contracts. The baseline for this cannot be assessed at this time. The inadequacies of the CUFS are causing an excessive workload on RSD; at current staffing RSD will be over-resourced with respect to its current workload when deficiencies in CUFS are resolved. We therefore recommend that staffing levels be re-examined after these deficiencies are resolved.

47. Cambridge Enterprise should be funded from Third Stream funding and from the revenue which it generates. If it is managed correctly Cambridge Enterprise can become a source of meaningful revenues for academics, Departments, and the University. Although continued investment (in the form of Third Stream funding) will be necessary in the short term, the University, like its peer institutions in the US, should expect Cambridge Enterprise to more than cover its costs.

The administrative performance of the Division, including effectiveness in use of resource; planning; staff development; tracking procedures and quality assurance

48. The Panel had concerns in this area, particularly with respect to the response to the inability of CUFS to produce invoicing information. This has caused problems in raising invoices leading to both labour intensive processes and delay. The cash-flow impact of this situation is quite substantial. At one time there was a backlog of approximately £30 million in invoicing (now £13 million) despite committing a number of full-time staff to the task of manually generating invoices. Workarounds should be put in place immediately. The initiation of a procedure to workaround this should have come from within RSD. Staff within RSD seem to be aware of problems in general but there is a failure to take the initiative to solve them.

49. It is imperative that the next version of CUFS handles research grants appropriately and effectively.

50. Performance tracking against stated service level targets is performed satisfactorily.

The division of authority between Heads of Institution and the Division

51. We suggest that some large Departments should have more authority in dealing with routine matters. Training should be provided for administrative staff based in Departments, which should be accredited to perform certain routine actions, such as signing routine licence agreements, non-disclosure agreements, material transfer agreements, and grant applications to Research Councils and the major medical charities.

The views of internal and external users of the Division's services

52. The views of internal users of the Division's services are mixed, with routine grant handling being viewed as good and improving, while the handling of industrial contracts and material transfer agreements are viewed by many as needing improvement. There is a very positive view about the services offered by the legal group.

Those who have used the services of Cambridge Enterprise recently are generally positive. However, submissions do contain some strong complaints about the inflexibility of transferring IPR wholly to new ventures. A system for handling complaints should be established.

How the Division's performance compares with best practice in other UK and overseas universities

53. A resource (as opposed to performance) comparison with other institutions is provided in the following table. This shows the level of resource to be comparable to peer institutions. All data is for 2002/2003 and research income for UK institutions includes the research component of the HEFCE block grant, known widely as 'QR'.

InstitutionResearch IncomeGrants and Contract StaffTechnology Transfer Staff
Cambridge £230M 37 22
Imperial £228M 56 24
Oxford £228M 32 28
UCL £226M 47 17
Harvard £299M 73 26
MIT £500M 46 24

While the numbers reported are unlikely to be comparing like with like (for example the Cambridge numbers include post grant award administration while Oxford's do not), there is a broad consistency across the institutions.

54. The problem in invoicing noted above is also a problem at UCL and Imperial, with comparable backlogs.

55. In terms of licensing revenue, there is a sharp distinction between UK and US universities. Moreover, while data from the US are available, institution by institution data in the UK are patchy. While it is premature to make a considered judgement, data thus far suggests we are keeping up with, rather than leading, our UK peers.

56. In the area of business creation, it is again too early to judge success. Many businesses have been created with the help of Cambridge Enterprise, but it will take some years before the value of these businesses becomes apparent. In comparisons with other institutions in terms of simple numbers of companies created and attracting funding, Cambridge Enterprise performs modestly with respect to spin-outs, that is, companies which exploit IP developed within the University, but extremely well with respect to start-ups, that is, companies which are not dependent on IP developed within the University. Although the vast majority of these companies are still running, most are still in the stage of development rather than delivering product to customers. For this reason it is premature to make a comparison.

Acknowledgements

The Panel would like to thank all those that contributed to the review through submissions and interview. The Panel would particularly like to thank Ian Troupe who acted as secretary to the Panel.

Index of Recommendations

The main recommendations of this report are contained in the following paragraphs:

18-20: Separation of Cambridge Enterprise from RSD
21: Repositioning of the legal group within the Secretariat
22: Movement of research related staff in CLO to RSD
24: Examination of remainder of CLO
25-30: Remit of Cambridge Enterprise
31: Seed funding
37: Need to improve handling of Material Transfer Agreements
39: Need to move to customer-focused culture targeted at academic sectors
46: Funding of RSD
47: Funding of Cambridge Enterprise
48: Workarounds for invoicing
49: Need for next version of CUFS to handle Research Grants properly
51: Desireability for some Departments to be given authority and training to handle routine matters.
52: Establishment of a complaints procedure.

List of those submitting evidence

A. Allars, Professor Ross Anderson, Dr Gordana Apic, Dr Wendy Bennett (Department of French), Department of Biochemistry, Board of Land Economy, Kevin Braithwaite, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, David Carter (Department of Chemical Engineering), Ann Cartwright (Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute), Mike Clark, Sara Cooper (Health and Safety Division), Sue Court, Dr Neil Dodgson (Computer Laboratory), Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of English, Professor G. R. Evans, Professor Derek Fray (Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy), Ben Gales, Paul Goldsmith, Professor J. C. Gray (Department of Plant Sciences), Professor John Grey (Faculty of Education), Professor Geoffrey Grimmett (Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Sciences), Nick Haan, Martin Halford, Stephen Haley, Chris Harris, Timothy Harris (Computer Laboratory), Dr Amiria Henare (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology), Walter Herriot (St John's Innovation Centre), Professor Colin Humphreys (Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy), Dr David James (Department of Pharmacology), Charles Jones (Centre of Latin American Studies), Professor M. J. Kelly (Cambridge-MIT Institute and Department of Engineering), Anny King (University of Cambridge Language Centre), Catherine King (Department of Plant Sciences), D. R. de Lacey, Professor Peter Landshoff (School of Physical Sciences), Jack Lang, Margaret Levitt, and Carol Speed (Computer Laboratory), Professor Malcolm Mackley (Department of Chemical Engineering), Philip Martin, Department of Medicine - School of Clinical Medicine, MML, Simon Moore (Computer Laboratory), Jonathan Morgan, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Dr A. Mycroft (Computer Laboratory), Department of Neurosurgery and Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Dr Cahir O'Kane (Department of Genetics), Bob Pettigrew, Department of Physics, Andrew Richards, M. Rigby, Dan Roach, Professor T. W. Robbins (Department of Experimental Psychology), Robert Sansom, Shimi Shah, and Alex Sossick (Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute), Mrs Vicki Sparkes (Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair), Professor Colin W. Taylor (Department of Pharmacology), School of Technology, Alistair Wayne, Julian White, Peter White, Dr Steve Wilcox, Merrick Willis, and Ken Worthing.

List of those interviewed

Mrs C. Baldwin, Professor M. Burrows, Mrs J. Cheffins, Professor K. Glover, Mr P. Guildford, Mr R. Hay, Mr P. Hiscocks, Mrs H. Jackson, Mr S. Jones, Mrs A. King, Mr W. Matthews, Sir Alastair Morton, Dr C. Padfield, and Dr D. Secher.

Panel Members

Professor I. Leslie (Chair), Mrs L. Arter, Mr N. Brown, Dr M. Cleare, Dr T. Cook, Professor M. Daunton, Professor B. Evans, Mr H. Kruth, Professor M. Stanley.

Research Services Division Report: Comments from the Registrary

1. This note sets out my initial reaction as Registrary to the report and recommendations from the Review Panel for the Research Services Division (RSD). My comments reflect discussions with the Director of the Division and with Dr Padfield, Director of CLO, but they do not pretend to be a considered and detailed comment on all that is in the report. Many of the points made will serve as helpful pointers to the Director and me in devising future plans. It will also be helpful to have further discussions with Professor Leslie to gain a better understanding of the Panel's reasoning and their evidence for it.

2. I am grateful to Professor Leslie and the members of the Review Panel for their evident commitment to their task and for the seriousness of their work.

3. In the rest of this paper I set out my initial comments against the points made in the Executive Summary (paragraphs 5 to 8 of the report).

4. Paragraph 5

It is implicit here that the decision to set up the RSD and to integrate the previous separate activities was correct. I welcome this confirmation and the recognition of what has been achieved.

The grants module of CUFS is has a continuing problem and work is in hand to develop short-term workarounds as recommended. In the medium/long term the only solution is with the upgrade to version 11i of the Oracle Financials. This is scheduled for Christmas/New Year 2004/05 but only May for billing.

It is accepted that there should be further restructuring along academic discipline boundaries and that the academic/RSD interface and relationship needs to be improved.

The comment about material transfer agreements is accepted; it reflects a national and, indeed, international issue. RSD have been piloting a devolved authorisation scheme over the past year and expect to roll this out more widely.

There is a clear need to identify new sources of grant support. However, there should be further discussion initially within the Research Policy Committee and the Councils of the Schools, as to how this work should be undertaken and whose responsibility it should be.

5. Paragraph 6

In the original discussions about the creation of Cambridge Enterprise it was always acknowledged that its location within RSD might be only temporary and that for reasons of effectiveness and efficiency its medium- to long-term location might be as a separate institution within the University or even as a separate corporate entity outside the University. The proposal to split Cambridge Enterprise from RSD is accepted in that context. The immediate task will be to recruit a permanent Director and to involve him or her in developing proposals to put to the Council (and possibly to the University) for the detailed implementation of this recommendation.

6. Paragraph 7

The legal group inside RSD carries out work of a general nature under my oversight and direction not specific to RSD, as well as its original remit to support RSD. The group is a valuable resource both to Divisions within the UAS and more generally to the University. It handles routine work and also advises on instructions to external firms when specialist advice is required. Mr Parsons has recently conducted an audit of legal business in the University, the results of which are currently being analysed and will inform further thinking about resource levels, etc. The proposal organisationally to transfer the legal group to the Secretariat within the UAS is accepted.

7. Paragraph 8

It is not precisely clear what 'the research strategy and collaboration component of the Corporate Liaison Office' consists in. However, it is clear that the Review Panel regard it as only some part of the total activities of the Office. The implementation of the recommendation in paragraph 8 will require appropriate organisational arrangements to be made for the remaining part of the Office.

T. J. MEAD
16 July 2004


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Cambridge University Reporter 11 August 2004
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