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The GENERAL BOARD submit this Annual Report to the Council.
1. National and internal arrangements for Quality Assurance
1.1 In October 2003 the report of the Quality Assurance Agency's Institutional Audit was published (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 92). The Board's Education Committee subsequently approved an action plan on the basis of which it would report back to the QAA. The main recommendation of the report was that the Board should review the procedures which allow them to assure themselves that the quality and standards of programmes provided by all institutions under their supervision, including programmes offered in conjunction with bodies outside the University, fully meet the requirements of the University for the award of its qualifications. This has begun to be addressed by the agreeing of a three-tier system of quality assurance procedures which enables the Education Committee, and the Board, to receive relevant information, while not presenting an unreasonable burden to the institutions involved, and also to ensure that provision certificated by an institution is branded appropriately.
1.2 In response to a second recommendation, which suggested that consideration be given to securing academic ownership of Faculty and Department Quality Statements, further guidance on the use of Quality Statements has been given to Faculties and Departments, and the Board have agreed a Good Practice Strategy which will enable the considerable amount of good practice in the University to be disseminated more easily. Activities associated with the strategy will include an e-newsletter, workshops, and a good practice website.
1.3 The QAA report also suggested that the University might wish to give consideration to the current monitoring of Professional and Statutory Body (PSB) activity in relation to the University's educational provision. It has therefore been agreed that in future all reports of PSB visits will be considered by the Education Committee.
1.4 During the year preparations for the provision of publicly available information on quality and standards of learning and teaching (TQI) continued. The initial disquiet concerning the use and feasibility of the provision of data via the HERO website increased as the project progressed, to the point that the Board agreed that Cambridge should develop its own website, CamDATA, to provide accurate and relevant information for users such as potential applicants and their advisers. The Board again made representations to the HEFCE concerning the project. Preparing the data required by the HEFCE for the HERO website has consumed significant resources and will become more intrusive when the University is required, in addition, to post summaries of External Examiners' reports on the website in 2005.
1.5 A second new requirement imposed by the HEFCE on the University, the involvement of all graduating undergraduate students in a national student feedback survey, was also introduced during the year. Again this raised resource issues, but, in addition, issues of principle including the usefulness of conducting institution-wide surveys and whether the intrusion of students' privacy envisaged in collecting data was warranted. Representations to relevant bodies have been made by both the Board and the CUSU.
1.6 The Board have been well represented in national debates on quality assurance, responding to consultations on revised sections of the QAA's Code of Practice and on the Agency's proposals for audit of collaborative provision and for additional Subject Benchmark Statements. The University has also agreed to take part in the HEFCE's impact assessment of external quality assurance bodies.
2. Teaching, learning, and assessment
2.1 In addition to continuing to support various activities through the HEFCE's Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund, the Education Committee has identified further initiatives to be funded through an additional allocation to that Fund, amounting to £266,000 for 2005-06, including support for the Language Centre, Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET), Staff Development activities, and student personal development planning. It was particularly disappointing, not least given the University's outstanding performance in QAA Subject Review, that three bids in response to the HEFCE's initiative for the establishment of Centres of Excellence in Teaching and Learning were unsuccessful. The Board will be reviewing the infrastructure necessary for preparing funding bids, to HEFCE and other bodies, for learning and teaching, and for the management of projects funded by successful bids. In view of the HEFCE's current emphasis on promoting ring-fenced funding for particular initiatives in teaching and learning, it is important that the University should be well placed to compete for such funding, when appropriate to its mission.
2.2 Following its consultation with Faculty Boards on a range of assessment and examination issues, the Education Committee has, inter alia, issued revised guidelines on the duties of External Examiners, including distinguishing those Externals who play a moderating role across a Tripos or part of a Tripos. The Committee has also issued guidance on the implications of the Disability Discrimination Act for teaching and learning activities. The Board's various policies and guidance relating to teaching, learning, and assessment have now been brought together on the Education Section's website (http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/education/). The year saw a significant change in the arrangements for funding 'approved' vacation study (i.e. vacation courses hitherto set out on the 'Pink List'). On the recommendation of their Education and Resource Management Committees, the Board agreed that, with effect from 2004-05, responsibility for funding such courses should be devolved to the Councils of the Schools. The effects of this new arrangement, particularly in terms of equity of treatment amongst students and of the distribution of resources available for vacation study, will be closely monitored. The Education Committee has continued to work closely with a range of other bodies, including the Senior Tutors' Committee and CUSU: it was pleased to note, from a CUSU survey of the quality of supervision, the generally very positive student response to supervision arrangements in the Colleges.
3. Departmental and other reviews
3.1 A further recommendation of the QAA's Institutional Audit report involved monitoring the impact and success of recent changes to quality assurance procedures, giving particular attention to the schedule for internal periodic review. The Board, through the Education Committee, again reviewed the operation of internal review procedures and, in the interests of reducing the burden on institutions and increasing the effectiveness of review, agreed to move to a form of review that concentrates on an institution's learning and teaching activities, bearing in mind that Councils of the Schools now monitor other activities within their constituent institutions and increasingly require those institutions to produce strategic plans. The first of the new style reviews will take place in 2004-05. The possibility of a full review of all of an institution's activities remains.
3.2 During 2003-04 the Education Committee considered and acted upon the reports of the following reviews which had taken place in 2002-03 or 2003-04: the Institute of Astronomy, the CMI Undergraduate Exchange Programme, the Computer Laboratory, the Department of Earth Sciences, the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, the Department of Land Economy, the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, the Faculty of Music, and the University Library.
4. Degrees, courses, and examinations
New courses and examinations for the M.Phil. Degree (one-year course) were approved in Computational Biology; Financial Research; Innovation, Strategy, and Organization; Management; Management Research; Management Science; and Micro- and Nanotechnology Enterprise. Additional strands to the M.Phil. courses and examinations in Archaeology, in English Studies, and in Oriental Studies were also approved. The regulations for the Diploma in Architecture and the M.Phil. Examination in Microelectronic Engineering and Semiconductor Physics were rescinded. Numerous changes to the regulations for Tripos examinations were approved, of which the most significant were: changes to the regulations for the Final M.B. course (including changes relating to the examination format, timing, and length of the course); the division of Part II of the History of Art Tripos into Parts IIA and IIB; and changes to the Experimental Psychology and Geological Sciences courses in the Natural Sciences Tripos (for the purpose of accreditation with the relevant professional and statutory bodies). The Board approved the introduction of the following Continuing Education courses: a Diploma in Garden History; an Advanced Diploma in Archaeology; a Postgraduate Diploma in Notarial Practice; and an M.St. in Clinical Effectiveness.
5. Academic performance
The Joint Committee on Academic Performance continued to investigate the factors which affect student academic performance and in particular focused on two main areas. First, it considered a report of a study which investigated the admission and academic performance of Graduate Students, in particular why fewer women than men undertook research degrees. The project was supported by HEFCE funds made available in connection with the University's Learning and Teaching Strategy. The Board of Graduate Studies are considering the report in detail, in particular its recommendations regarding student recruitment. Secondly, a Research Associate has been appointed to investigate the performance of UK undergraduate students of certain ethnic origins. The research project, funded in the same way, has recently commenced and the Committee intends to consider a report in September 2005.
6. Graduate education
Matters relating to graduate education are now occupying a significantly greater proportion of the Board's business. These extend well beyond the routine consideration of proposals for new or amended M.Phil. courses. In collaboration with the Board of Graduate Studies, the Education Committee has given initial consideration to a number of strategic issues relating to the organization of graduate education, including: the portfolio of the University's graduate degrees and other qualifications; the University's ability to meet the HEFCE's and the Research Councils' requirements and to capitalize on funding opportunities; the impact of developments for the Colleges; and the distribution of responsibilities for Graduate Student matters across the University. The Board have, on the Committee's recommendation, asked the Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Education and for Research to consider the most appropriate long-term structures for the organization of the University's graduate education. They have also agreed that there should be reciprocal membership between their Education Committee and the Board of Graduate Studies.
7. International education
Near the end of the year the Council and the Board set up two Working Parties on international matters: one, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Special Responsibilities), to advise on international academic relationships; the other, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), to consider international student recruitment and support. The Working Parties are due to report to the Council and the Board by early in the Easter Term 2005. An International Education Office has been set up, initially on an unestablished basis with support from CMI funding, to support the University's international education activities.
8. The University's financial position
The Board received regular reports from the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC) about progress on taking forward the conclusions of the Financial Working Party, previously endorsed by the Board. The Board recognize that if Cambridge is to maintain its status, it must not merely achieve a balanced budget, but also generate sufficient funds to allow further investment including greater rewards for staff, at all levels, and increased flexibility in recruitment. The University's adverse financial position, together with the increasing cost of centrally funded activities and services, impose a severe constraint on the Board's ability to promote, and support, new developments in teaching and research.
9. The Resource Allocation Model and the planning process
Substantial further progress was made during the year in the development of the Resource Allocation Model (RAM) and of an accompanying planning process. RAM development is guided by the RAM Development Group which reports to the central bodies through the PRC. Specialist sub-groups advise on detailed matters; four were active during the first half of the year. Development of the RAM up to November 2003 is described in an annex to the Joint Report of the Council and General Board on resource allocation: introduction of a Cambridge Resource Allocation Model (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 183). A number of issues were raised in the Discussion on 2 December 2003 (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 290), for the Development Group to consider, but none required immediate redesign of the model. The Report was otherwise received positively and the structure of the RAM was settled for 2004-05. The model, updated with financial data relevant to 2004-05, was the basis for calculating financial targets for Schools and central institutions for 2004-05, and informed the 2004 Allocations Report (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 716). The aim, indicated in the last Annual Report, of the RAM being used to inform Allocations for 2004-05 was therefore achieved. The RAM was also used to provide the overall financial assumptions for the planning enquiry launched in May 2004. The Board are concerned to ensure that the planning process is driven primarily by academic considerations; they will ensure that an appropriate balance of provision is maintained and that developments which span more than one School can be fostered.
10. Other developments
The University is also required to develop new financial mechanisms to calculate indirect cost rates and the full cost of activities, developed in parallel with other tools such as the Financial Model, Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC), and Full Economic Costing (FEC). These developments, with the accompanying delegations and the requirements of the planning round, have major implications for the responsibilities and authority of the Councils of the Schools and their officers, and the arrangements for the governance of the groups of non-School institutions, and monitoring the cost and level of each service. The Board, with advice from the bodies concerned, will begin to address these issues during 2004-05.
11. National policy/consultation
11.1 The year saw further initiatives to take forward Government policy on higher education culminating in the Higher Education Act 2004. Of particular significance was a consultation on key issues relating to fair admissions to higher education from the Admissions to Higher Education Steering Group, chaired by Professor Steven Schwartz, Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University, to which the Board responded.
11.2 The Board were kept informed of HEFCE consultations on the funding methods for teaching and research, and approved a response to a HEFCE consultation document on plans for a Leadership, Governance and Management Fund.
12. New academic developments
12.1 As a result of institutions restructuring their establishments, or through the welcome availability of external funds, the Board were able to propose the establishment of the following Professorships and Readerships in 2003-04:
|(i)||A Bernard Wolfe Professorship of Health Neuroscience, established from 1 July 2004, funded by a generous benefaction from the WoCo Foundation;|
|(ii)||A Professorship of Cosmology and Astrophysics established from 15 January 2004 for the tenure of Professor Sir Martin Rees, in the Institute of Astronomy, and funded by Trinity College;|
|(iii)||Two Professorships of Education, established from 1 October 2004 in the Faculty of Education, and funded through the recurrent allocation made to the Faculty;|
|(iv)||A Professorship of the Physics of Medicine, established for one tenure from 1 October 2005 in the Department of Physics and with duties also concerning a Department within the Clinical School, supported by the Addenbrooke's Foundation Trust;|
|(v)||A Professorship of Information Engineering, established from 1 October 2004 in the Department of Engineering, supported through funds released by the transfer of the Professorship of Communications to the establishment of the Computer Laboratory; and|
|(vi)||Two Readerships, in Cell Biology in the Department of Pathology and in Population Biology in the Department of Zoology, established from dates to be determined, funded from resources available to the Departments.|
12.2 The following senior offices were re-established:
|(i)||The Professorship of Ferroics, for a period of five years from 1 September 2004 in the Department of Earth Sciences, funded from discretionary funds available to the Department and with the arrangement underwritten by the Council of the School of the Physical Sciences;|
|(ii)||The Professorship of Medical Genetics, for a further tenure from 1 October 2005 in the Department of Medical Genetics, funded by the NHS Clinical Academic Consortium; and|
|(iii)||The Professorship of Photonics, 1 January 2004 in the Department of Engineering for the tenure of the present holder of the office, supported from research grant funding available to the Department of Engineering.|
12.3 In their Report for 2002-03, the Board reported that the University had received a very substantial bequest in the Will of Dr Herchel Smith to support, inter alia, five Professorships in fields specified by Dr Smith. During 2003-04 the Board accordingly proposed the establishment of the following Herchel Smith Professorships:
|(i)||A Professorship of Pure Mathematics in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, from 1 October 2004;|
|(ii)||A Professorship of Physics, in the field of the Physics of Medicine in the first instance, in the Department of Physics, from 1 October 2005; and|
|(iii)||A Professorship of Molecular Genetics, initially in the field of stem cell research, from 1 October 2004 and assigned to a Department in the School of the Biological Sciences once the research interests of the person elected to the Professorship are known.|
The Board anticipate proposing the establishment of the remaining two Professorships in institutions within the School of the Biological Sciences during the course of 2004-05. The Board also expect to publish in the near future the regulations for a number of three-year post-doctoral Fellowships at Cambridge, supported from the £17.248m residual funds from Dr Smith's estate. Preliminary discussions have also taken place with Harvard University over the terms of a post-doctoral Fellowship exchange programme which will be set up in accordance with another of the terms of Dr Smith's bequest.
12.4 Following approval of their Report, dated 12 March 2003, on the establishment of an office of Director of the Centre for Commonwealth Education, the Board proposed the establishment of a Professorship of the Economics of Education in the Department of Education from 1 April 2004 for ten years (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 480). After a review of the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET) and in order to improve the oversight of the activity of the Centre, the Board approved new regulations and the institution of a Committee of Management to replace the Advisory Committee, from 1 October 2004.
13. Research Policy Committee
13.1 The Board's Research Policy Committee is an important forum, not only for overseeing the development of internal policies and procedures, but for positioning the University in relation to external institutions, and particularly the major funding bodies. Issues considered by the Committee in 2003-04 included:
implementation and implications of Full Economic Costing (FEC) of resources for October 2005;
the Lambert Report on university-business collaboration;
revised Model Collaborative Agreements for research projects; and
the University's IPR policy, leading to the publication of the Second Joint Report of the Council and the Board on the Ownership of Intellectual Property Rights.
13.2 The Board note with pleasure the very significant improvement in the level of grant funding received by the University from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB).
13.3 The constitution of the Committee was expanded to include six members, one from each School, who are principal investigators. Professor Bill Cornish retired from the Committee on his retirement from the Herchel Smith Professorship of Intellectual Property Law on 30 September 2004. The Board are most grateful to Professor Cornish for his major contribution to the work of the Board, particularly in relation to the development of policies on Copyright and IPR.
14. RAE: the 2008 Exercise
14.1 In their last Annual Report, the Board reported on the publication in May 2003 of the HEFCE's report of their review of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) under the chairmanship of Sir Gareth Roberts and the significant modifications to the 2001 procedures that the Report proposed. The HEFCE announced in February 2004 their decision to carry out a further UK-wide RAE with a census date of 31 October 2007 and the publication of results in December 2008.
14.2 Some significant changes, welcomed by the Board, have been made to the RAE process, reflecting a number of recommendations proposed by the Roberts Review and the results of widespread consultation by the HEFCE. The most fundamental of these changes are the introduction of a two-tier panel system, with 15 main panels and 67 sub-panels, and the publication of results as a continuously graded quality profile for each submission at the sub-panel level, instead of the single score awarded on the seven-point rating scale used in 2001. However, although the change in the method will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the University's decisions with regard to the formulation of submissions it is difficult for detailed policies to be formulated until the HEFCE release further information, scheduled for 2005. Even at that stage, there is unlikely to be any detailed information on the funding implications of the new rating methodology. In the meantime, the Board have sought comments from the Schools in order to respond to the HEFCE's consultative exercises and they are working with the other members of the Russell Group to ensure that matters of common concern concerning the RAE, and its future, are promoted to best effect.
14.3 In preparation for the next Exercise, as described in their last Annual Report, the Board have put in place arrangements for monitoring and reviewing the performance of those few Departments that did not achieve at least a 5 rating or retain their 1996 RAE rating of 5*.
15. HR strategy and other major policy developments
15.1 Through the Personnel Committee, the Board have contributed to the implementation of proposals contained in the University's HR Strategy and on other activities. In particular:
|(i)||The Consultative Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on a new pay and grading structure for non-clinical staff (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 971), following the nationally agreed two-year pay settlement (2003 and 2004), featured the introduction of a single spine and a Framework Agreement intended to facilitate pay re-structuring and the introduction of common grading methodologies in HE institutions;|
|(ii)||The second annual exercise of the new single scheme for senior academic promotions was launched, with promotions effective from 1 October 2004. (The timetable for the next exercise has also been agreed and published with the aim of making that and subsequent exercises prospective.); and|
|(iii)||A probationary scheme for academic staff (Reporter, 2003-04, p. 206) was introduced and approved by the Regent House. (The scheme requires an amendment to Statute D before it can be implemented and it is expected that the Privy Council will have approved the amendment early in the coming academical year.)|
15.2 The Board have welcomed the expansion of the Staff Development Programme in a number of areas of importance to academic staff, particularly at the beginning of their career. These include leadership and management, effective teaching (through a programme in Higher Education Practice (PHEP) for all newly appointed academic staff) and the professionalism of support staff. With encouragement from the Board, work is continuing to ensure that staff development provision is aligned with the identified needs of the University and subject to systematic evaluation.
16. General matters
The Board receive regular reports from the Health and Safety Executive Committee; a detailed account of the committee's activities is given in its Annual Report (2002 Annual Report, Reporter, 2002-03, Special No. 17; 2003 Annual Report pending). The activities of the Enforcement Authorities, who make frequent visits to the University, continue to grow, as does the legislation requiring compliance, sometimes involving more than one inspectorate. For example, the advent of anti-terrorism legislation has resulted in an increase in the safety and security procedures associated with the use of radioactive, chemical, and biological materials. Consequently there are new inspectorates concerned with the licensing and declaration of these materials. Although almost all visits resulted only in letters of recommendations or no further follow up, investigation of one case, which may lead to prosecution, is still in progress. Where breaches occur, the consequent investigation is time-consuming and costly for the Department involved and University alike. The Board cannot emphasize too strongly the need for all members of the University to be aware of, and constantly to address, their responsibilities for Health and Safety. Activities such as the programme of University Health and Safety auditing, which started in 2003, and the enlarged safety education programme, are key to maintaining this awareness.
17.1 During the year the General Board conducted a Standard Review of the University Library. The report commended the quality of the service provided by the University Library in the face of considerable financial constraints. It also covered a wide range of issues, including space needs, the cataloguing backlog, the cost of scientific journals, future development of library services in the University as a whole, and the relationship between the University Library and the libraries of Faculties and Departments. Following the consideration of the report's recommendations by the Board and the Library Syndicate, a group has been formed to develop plans for the future of library services across the University,
17.2 The Committee on Libraries continued to seek ways to improve professional development, training, and mentoring for librarians throughout the University. A detailed report concerning staff development for librarians in the University will be considered by the Committee in October 2004.
17.3 The Committee addressed concerns about the escalating cost of scientific journals and the difficulties of ensuring that the resources available within the University for their purchase can be used to the best overall effect. The joint fund for the purchase of journals in departmental libraries in the biological sciences and Chemistry and the relevant sections of the University Library is operating successfully and the Committee will be considering whether the scheme should be extended to other subjects so as to ease the pressure on library budgets.
17.4 Through its rolling programme of visits to Faculty and Departmental libraries, the Committee has been pleased to note continuing evidence of high quality service.
|17 November 2004||ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor||H. A. CHASE||MELVEENA MCKENDRICK|
|J. S. BELL||M. J. DAUNTON||ROGER PARKER|
|TOM BLUNDELL||R. H. FRIEND||S. J. YOUNG|
|WILLIAM BROWN||DREW LIVINGSTON|
|N. O. A. BULLOCK||D. W. B. MACDONALD|
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Cambridge University Reporter 15 December 2004
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.