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Thirteenth Report of the Board of Scrutiny

The BOARD OF SCRUTINY begs leave to report as follows:

1. The Board of Scrutiny could be described as the University's 'watchdog body'. It forms part of the official mechanism for ensuring that the University is run in a way that is transparent and is accountable to the governing body of the University, which is the Regent House. It comprises eight directly elected members who serve for a period of four years, and the Proctors and Pro-Proctors (who are nominated by the Colleges and formally elected by the Regent House). Of the members who are directly elected by the Regent House, four retire and four new members are elected every two years. Further information is available on http://www.scrutiny.cam.ac.uk/.

2. The Board has a statutory obligation 'to scrutinize on behalf of the Regent House':

(a) The Annual Report of the Council;
(b) The Abstract of the Accounts of the University;
(c) Any Report of the Council proposing allocations from the Chest.

It also has 'the right of reporting to the University on any matters falling within the scope' of this scrutiny and has the power to inspect any documents that are relevant to any enquiry that it is empowered to make. The Board, with the best interests of the University in mind, aims to carry out its functions in a constructive manner. Since its inception, the Board's practice has been to publish a single Report exploring the themes that emerge from these official documents, rather than a series of separate Reports on Reports. This Thirteenth Report follows this tradition.

3. In carrying out these functions during the academical year 2007-08, the Board met fortnightly during each Full Term, with four extra meetings during June and July, to finalize its annual Report. It held formal meetings with the Vice-Chancellor ('VC'), the Registrary (twice), the Director of the Estate Management and Building Service ('EMBS'), the Pro-Vice-Chancellor ('PVC') (Planning and Resources), the CEO of Cambridge Enterprise, and the Director of External Affairs and Communications. From time to time it has requested information and/or papers from these and other persons concerned in running the University and it is pleased to report that such information and papers were readily made available. To all of them, the Board is grateful for the time and help they have given.

4. The Board was provided with part-time administrative assistance this year by Miss Emma Easterbrook and Miss Rebecca Collins, whose help has been invaluable.

5. This year the Board has taken the opportunity to review last year's recommendations from its Twelfth Report with the Council's responses and the Board's view of subsequent progress. The Board's comments on these responses are appended as Annex A.

Financial Matters


6. In its last Report the Board congratulated the Council, the Director of Finance, and his staff on publishing the University's first set of fully consolidated Accounts. Congratulations are due again - this year the results are better and the transparency further improved. All three of the major segments of activity from which the consolidated position is built performed well: Cambridge Assessment (the UK and international examination-setting business) widened last year's surplus from £1.4m to £11.7m,1 the University Press returned to surplus, showing a surplus of £1m, while education and research activities showed a surplus contracted from £8.7m to £5m. Overall the consolidated surplus retained within general reserves grew from £12.1m to £21.3m during the year.

7. The unaudited Accounts for 'Little U'2 (i.e. the University stripping out Cambridge Assessment, the Press, and the Cambridge Trusts) paint a less encouraging picture with respect to academic activities, however. The University is barely in surplus (£1.4m versus £6.5m in the previous year). Of the £21.3m surplus of the consolidated Income and Expenditure account, £21.8m is contributed by Cambridge Assessment - in other words, after pension costs, the University runs at a deficit on all its other activities. Of course, this is a simplistic observation and the University's finances are complex with no single measure being sufficient. One point comes through clearly though, and it is one made by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) in his report: 'the consolidated surplus is, however, small in the context of annual expenditure now approaching £1 billion'.3

8. The larger contribution from Cambridge Assessment, improved investment income (see below), higher fees, and good departmental control of expenditure, all helped to just cover the 7.9% increase in personnel costs arising from last summer's national pay award and the introduction of the new University spine. This is very creditable, but the narrowness of the result again underlines the University's potential vulnerability to changes in the HEFCE funding regime and/or to an adverse outcome of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008). Although projecting accounts in balance or small surplus over the next five years, Professor Minson again notes: 'current assumptions are fragile'. It is clear that, although the University's financial position has been greatly improved in recent years and that its accounts are presented with increasing clarity, there is still a fundamental lack of flexibility within the system, an inadequate cushion against the unexpected event or an economic downturn (of the type we are now experiencing).

Capital Programme

9. The tightness of room for manoeuvre is picked up in both the Council's Annual Report4 and that of the General Board.5 Section 8 of the Council's Report states: 'The present budgetary position of the University is positive, although the Council's aim of producing a significant margin of free resource has not yet been attained'. And yet in Section 13, when discussing the strategic planning for the land at North West Cambridge, the Report states: 'One of the University's early goals would be to secure opportunities for the development of housing and other accommodation'. This begs a question that the General Board picks up in Section 9.1 of its Report: 'Guidance for the next planning round indicates a tightening of the level of available resources'. The Report continues to look at the Capital Programme and Section 10.2 reads: 'The Board endorsed an updated draft Estates Strategy which will form the context for planning over the next two years, particularly in relation to the development of a number of central sites. The Board strongly support the development of a capital investment plan, integrating key academic developments on the New Museums, Old Press, Sidgwick Avenue, and West Cambridge sites, which are essential to the realization of the Estates Strategy. Such a plan will be the basis for the future allocation of University capital resources and the identification of fund-raising priorities.'

10. The problem with all of this is that there is much discussion of how to maximize the University's development opportunities, but, given the only small surpluses being generated, little focus on how to pay for the plans. An opportunity has existed for over two years to transform the University's financial resources. The current extremely inverted yield curve at the long end of the sterling money markets could allow the University to issue several hundred million pounds of fixed-interest securities with a 50-year maturity and a coupon (or interest rate) cost of between 4 and 5%. In other words, the University may be able to borrow ultra long-term at historically low levels. This idea was first considered by the University's Finance Committee in March 2007. Conditions in financial markets do not remain constant (as we have seen). To date, although the credit crunch has exacerbated this inversion, making the opportunity still more attractive, little visible progress has been made. During this period several Colleges have taken advantage of the market by replicating the issuance of a bond through long-dated bank borrowing.

11. The University is justly concerned to identify the commercial prospects of its various projects in order to guarantee the ability to service any debt raised in this way. Additionally, it must first be established that the University is legally allowed to borrow at all. All this is clearly necessary and prudent. The Board of Scrutiny is concerned, however, that a lack of urgency to marry the University's judicious desire for central planning for capital projects with the raising of the funds to pay for them may result in a serious lost opportunity. At a time when the University's day to day operations create so small a financial cushion in the light of economic and political developments, there is a curious lack of will to take advantage of a market-borne solution to gain both flexibility and security. As Professor Minson again states: 'securing the sustainability of our operations and our financial position remains a key concern for the University's Council and its committees.' The Board of Scrutiny would contend that this happy state may be within our grasp, but action is required before circumstances change. The Board recommends that the University investigates with all expediency the prospect of taking advantage of current market conditions to raise significant sums of long-term funds via the fixed interest markets.


12. While applauding the admirable presentation of the Accounts, the Board considers that there are two significant areas where greater transparency in future would be welcome. It is difficult to reconcile the up-beat assessment of the Cambridge 800th Anniversary Campaign Report 2006-2007 with the numbers in the Annual Accounts. Of the £155m raised during the period according to the Campaign document, £95m was provided to the University (as against the Colleges), including £45m from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. By comparison, note 23 on Endowments in the Accounts only reveals the addition of £34.1m in new permanent endowments. It is probable that the remaining gifts are accounted for under other headings, such as 'donations for buildings and other deferred capital grants received' and 'other income', but for ease of understanding, the Board would urge inclusion of a separate note in next year's Accounts referring to the amounts and direction of monies received from such an important initiative. There is clearly an issue in reconciling cash donations with matched expenditure, as well as accounting for pledges, but a short note (perhaps in the Financial Management Information pack) tying the detailed information contained in the Campaign report to the main University accounts would still be helpful. The Board recommends a clearer picture of the contribution to finances of the Cambridge 800th Anniversary campaign be represented in the annual accounts.

13. The Board notes with satisfaction the establishment of the University's Investment Office under Nick Cavalla. During the year, and largely before the benefits of the new structure have been felt, the Cambridge University Endowment Fund grew 13.8% to a closing value of £991m. Notes 15 and 23 give only cursory detail on how the University's Fund is invested and across which asset classes. While Section J of the Financial Management Information pack is much more informative, the Board would like to suggest that now the new regime for managing investment assets has been instigated, even greater insight into the asset allocation process and its resultant performance might be granted in future sets of accounts, or even via a separate report from the Investment Office. The Board recommends that, with the establishment of the University's Investment Office, a more substantial report into its activities and relative performance be considered for future annual review.

Budget Report

14. The Annual Report of the Council on the financial position and budget of the University recommending allocations from the Chest 2008-09 was published in Reporter on 21 May 2008. The picture is consistent with that set out in the Accounts, projecting small surpluses to 2011-12. Areas of vulnerability remain: the next USS valuation could push up contribution rates and greatly increase pension costs, HEFCE grants reduce as a proportion of income, and the University system is becoming increasingly dependent on the contribution from Cambridge Assessment. Cambridge Assessment is planned to transfer 30% of its surplus as an annual 'dividend', while making additional lump-sum payments every three to four years. It can be argued that this is a perfectly reasonable expectation to allow the University to balance its books, but, with only a modest contribution anticipated from the Press, unforeseen problems or capital requirements could have a seriously deleterious effect on plans.

15. While staff costs next year are likely to be higher than projected (due to the currently elevated level of RPI), there is good news on HEFCE's capital funding stream (where £115m of Capital Investment Framework, to replace SRIF and Project Capital, will cover the period to 2011). This will allow continued allocation of reserves for capital expenditure and strategic planning. In certain quarters, there is a view that, while Science funding is broadly satisfactory (perhaps due to the strict adherence to cost constraints), the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences, in particular, remains under serious financial pressure - an issue that continues to inform the debate over the career progression of College Teaching Officers in certain subjects. Such concerns over departmental versus 'inessential' central funding, and disagreements as to how they should be addressed, largely explain why the Budget Report has not enjoyed the unanimous support of Council members. This has led to a note of dissent being signed by two of them and an exposition of their positions being given at a Discussion of 10 June 2008.6 Finally, the Board welcomes with interest the inclusion for the first time in the Budget Report of the Projected Income and Expenditure Account (Table 3) - an attempt to represent the operating budget in an accounting format.

Administration and Governance

Statutes and Ordinances

16. The Board called for a revision of Statutes and Ordinances in its 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Reports, and it urgently reiterates this request in this Report. The discrepancies between Statutes and Ordinances and practice grow ever wider, with the result that members of the Regent House have no reliable guide to actual procedures and the University may be found in breach of Statute by its potential enemies. Statutes should, wherever possible, be enabling, with the detail to be found in Ordinances. This would make it somewhat easier to change the University's procedures in line with changes in practice or law without the need to undertake the complex processes required for Statute changes. Ordinances should inform members of the Regent House as to procedures to be followed; at present they serve rather as obstacles only to be dodged - inhibitors at best, a dead letter at worst.

17. A particularly egregious example of the mismatch between Statutes and Ordinances and practice is exemplified by a recent Notice by Council about 'Allowances to candidates for examinations' with reference to Statutes and Ordinances 2007, p. 218.7 The Notice states that the Council have declared eight candidates to have deserved honours in respect of examinations held in the Easter Term 2008. Similar Notices have been published by the Council regularly in recent years. The Council do not have power to declare a candidate to have deserved honours, other than in the particular circumstances described in Regulation 3(d)(i) which clearly do not apply in the cases referred to. Where a candidate has been absent from the whole examination, the Council's powers are limited to what is set out in Regulation 3(a). The correct allowance, in a bona fide case, is for the Council to allow the candidate the examination. Under Regulation 4, where the Council allows a candidate an examination which is an honours examination, such a candidate shall thereby have obtained honours therein. Regulation 3(a) contains the arcane provision that the Council may declare the candidate to have attained the honours standard. It may be that the Council are confusing this formulation with 'declared to have deserved honours'. But the two are completely different. The provision to declare the candidate to have attained the honours standard is included essentially for one purpose only: to cater for candidates not for honours in Part III of the Mathematical Tripos who are seeking the Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics. In order to obtain the certificate, candidates must attain the honours standard.8 There is a need for some clear thinking about the current use (misuse) of the regulations for Allowances, and perhaps the re-drafting of those regulations to bring them into line with current practice, if that is what the Council wish.

18. Further examples are:

18.1 The annual Report on Senior Academic Promotions9 makes reference to a 'blue booklet'. This, presumably bears some relation to the relevant parts of the document appended to the Report of the General Board on the introduction of a single procedure for the consideration of applications for promotion to personal Professorships, Readerships and Senior University Lectureships.10 Forms for applicants for promotion are to be found on the web, but not, for example, the criteria, which would surely be of interest to applicants and should be embodied in Ordinances. Indeed, the General Board Notice of 11 December 200211 stated that 'Subject to the approval of the recommendations of the Report by the Regent House, and in the light of the experience of operating the new scheme, the Board will consider what elements of the new arrangements should be included in the Statutes and Ordinances.' It would be interesting to know what considerations deterred them.

18.2 The new generation of Directors are to be found in Statutes and Ordinances only under the blanket provisions for the UAS which allow for a Director for each Division. Given that the Registrary apparently has the powers to create Divisions at will, the Regent House has no say in the appointment of these Directors or in the number of them.

18.3 The Divisions listed in the Ordinances do not, for example, include the Press Office, now the Office of External Affairs and Communications, and hence its Director.

18.4 Financial matters appear to be becoming increasingly detached. Hence money is spent without approval by the Regent House, e.g. on the Guild of Benefactors, apparently established without a Grace, while the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (previously Wellcome MRC) receives funding albeit absent from Ordinances.

18.5 Numerous other instances could be cited, such as an Ordinance concerning the circulation of flysheets, especially in relation to the regulations for elections.

19. The task of revision will, of course, be arduous and time-consuming and probably expensive, but delay can only make it more arduous, more time-consuming, and more expensive. The Board calls for the establishment of a Syndicate, appointed as all such must be, by Grace, and, if necessary, for the employment of a suitably qualified lawyer to advise it. The post-Wass Conduct of Business and Statutes and Revision Syndicates provide a viable model.

Administrative Systems


20. In its Twelfth Report the Board recommended that: 'The newly appointed Registrary and Director of MISD should review with some urgency both the governance and implementation aspects of CamSIS and whether there are likely to be any cost increases incurred in bringing the system up to standard that could affect the long term cost-effectiveness of the project.'

20.1 The Council's response was that: 'As mentioned in the earlier Notice, the Council is well aware of the achievement and potential of CamSIS, the student information system, and also of the problems particularly arising from the failure of a major supplier. The Council agrees that the Registrary and the new Director of the Management Information Services Division should review the governance and implementation of CamSIS, and indeed any other aspects of the project which require their attention. The Council expects the Registrary and the Director to report to it about CamSIS before the end of the Michaelmas Term 2007.'

20.2 The Registrary has informed the Board that since the Council response he has:

  'commissioned a review of governance and management from the internal auditors to help inform a review conducted by the Registrary and the Director of MISD. The results of that were reported to the Council at its meeting in December 2007.

  'Based on a paper presented to the PRC at its meeting in January 2008 together with an oral report from Professor Young, the Committee endorsed a request to reallocate £398K from other MISD purposes to CamSIS in 2007/08 and a new allocation of £197K to develop an online Admissions Form (the CAF).

  'Longer term budgetary considerations are being picked up by ISSS. The Project Board meets regularly and reports to ISSS. There is general agreement that the project has made considerable progress during the past year and is on track. '

20.3 The Board notes that the somewhat parlous relationship between CamSIS and the Colleges which existed during the academical year 2006-07 was greatly improved with the issue of the Project Board's revised vision statement in October 2007. The original vision undertook to:

  In October 2007 the Project Board

  agreed that the original vision may reasonably be re-stated as: the setting up of a common student information system, collectively established between the University, Colleges and Department of the University of Cambridge, to wit CamSIS. The system would have the characteristics of single-sourced data to eliminate duplication and maintain data integrity; a centrally operated real-time system, working, as appropriate, with other associated systems, providing information to, and receiving information from, CamSIS according to approved protocols and data standards.13

20.4 The Board is distressed to have been informed that the previous welcome improvement in the relationship between the Colleges and the managers of CamSIS has not been sustained and there are again fundamental disagreements about the exchange of data between CamSIS and College systems.The Board trusts that the Project Board will soon return to the spirit of the vision statement.

20.5 The University has been commended by HESA for the quality of its statistical reporting made possible by the improvements in CamSIS. The Board welcomes the attention being paid to usability issues in relation to the online Admissions Form (aka deCAF) but notes that the quality of usability of CamSIS has not improved since the Board's criticism last year. The Board has been assured that the next release of the underlying software will enable the project to make major usability improvements.

The Board recommends that the Project Board of CamSIS endeavour to fulfil the aspirations of the agreed vision statement.


21. It would appear to be a general truth that large Public Sector IT systems over-run in time and cost, and give fewer than the expected benefits. The Cambridge Human Resources Information System (CHRIS) appears to the Board to be following the pattern. The project's website provides a straightforward and colourful implementation timetable.14 As the latest reports about CHRIS make clear,15 'go-live' for most of the modules is running a year late compared with that implementation timetable and the Board is given to understand that the training module has been postponed sine die.

22. As with CamSIS the project management expect that many of the current problems will be overcome with the next release of the underlying software from external suppliers. The Regent House will recognize this expectation as a modern variation of Hartree's16 Law that 'the estimate of time needed to finish a software project is a constant'.

23. The Board hopes that when reviewing progress with projects and deciding on procurements that are heavily dependent on external vendors of software the ISSS will compare and contrast the development of CUFS, CamSIS, and CHRIS with the successful internal projects such as CamCORS, CamGRAD, and CASC.

Telephone Replacement Project

24. The University is currently engaged in a project to replace the existing analogue telephone system with one based on Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, where the telephone system runs over a computer network. This work is necessary because the existing analogue system goes out of maintenance in April 2009. The University Telecommunications Office and latterly the University Computing Service have been working on the replacement project for several years.17 BT iNet won the tender to provide the new system, and a contract was signed in November 2007.

25. Originally the new core telephone network was to have been deployed towards the end of 2007 and the first institutions migrated in December 2007.18 In the event the core was installed in March 200819 and just over 1000 of the 17,000 new handsets have now been rolled out. Thanks to the hard work of the staff involved these deployments have been very successful. However the Board notes that they have taken place in small institutions or those with modern networking equipment and buildings, and that the transition could be much less smooth in other places. It is concerned that the timetable to complete the project before the old system becomes impossible to maintain was challenging to begin with, and is now even more so.

26. VoIP traffic requires a high standard of computer network to run over and some parts of the University's computer network are not suitable. Recommendations have been issued at various points as to what features a VoIP-ready network within the University would have to support, but these have changed over the course of the project as the high cost implications became clear. For example the original requirement for networking equipment to support the Quality of Service (QoS) standard has now become optional, although BT iNet will not fix service quality issues in institutions without QoS.20 This could lead to those institutions opting to manage without QoS subsequently suffering problems with their phone systems or having to find funds to upgrade their networks.

27. In addition to this the Board is also concerned that there has been a general lack of communication on the project's progress. It welcomes the fact that this is now being addressed: a newsletter was published by the project in May 2008,21 a user forum has been set up, and user briefings have been held. However the website of the JTMC only carries minutes up to September 2007, and there is relatively little information available on the ISSS website. There was no mention of VoIP on the Telecommunications Office homepage as recently as September 2007.22 The Board recommends that efforts should continue to improve communications on the VoIP project.

28. Another aspect of the project which is causing some concern is safety. VoIP phones require electrical power to the handset and to the computer networking equipment the handsets plug into, unlike the analogue system where only the central equipment needs powering. The core VoIP phone network will be protected for two hours in the event of a power cut, but most of the existing computer networks do not have battery backup to the edges. There has been little advice as to what level of protection is appropriate, which has led to a range of approaches being taken, from battery backup everywhere to a reliance on everyone's having a mobile. It is difficult for many institutions without a full time Safety Officer or a local VoIP expert to make an assessment of what level of protection is required. The Board recommends that the HSO and the VoIP project managers should issue joint guidance on safety requirements for VoIP installations.

29. The University Pager System has been unavailable for over a year23 and there are no plans to reinstate it on the VoIP system. Departments have been advised to purchase and use mobile phones instead. This is less than ideal as mobile reception is poor within many University buildings, and mobiles are generally less reliable than a paging system.

High Performance Computing Facility

30. The Board has received since 2006 comments from various members of the University about the management and the running of the High Performance Computing Facility (HPCF). The HPCF (formerly the Cambridge/Cranfield High Performance Computing Facility [CCHPCF]) is a unit run independently from the University Computing Service (UCS) and the Management Services and Information Division (MISD) under the aegis of the School of the Physical Sciences.

31. The comments related to issues surrounding the procurement of new and disposal of redundant equipment and to a two or three month break in service which was detrimental to work being carried out at the doctoral and post-doctoral level. The procurement was for equipment worth around £1.5m.

32. The University was aware of the issues, which were investigated by the Audit Committee and which were also the subject of a grievance procedure. The Audit Committee commissioned the Internal Auditors who produced a critical report Investigation into Asset Procurement and Disposal Arrangements relating to the University High Performance Computing Facility 06/58.

33. The Board was subsequently informed by more than one of the principals involved that in their opinions the Internal Audit report understated the problems. The Board therefore made further enquiries and was concerned when it was told that the Internal Auditors had not consulted the University Purchasing Officer involved in the procurement. While he had left the University's employ by the time the audit took place, he was easily contactable and willing to discuss the concerns that he had, in any event, already raised during the procurement process itself. The Internal Auditors did not consult with the representatives from Cranfield University either, apparently on the ground that this institution had withdrawn from the Cambridge collaboration during the procurement. The Board is concerned that the auditors did not wish to pursue why Cranfield had withdrawn from the project, though the information which the Board currently has suggests that Cranfield shared some of the concerns that were being voiced within the University.

34. It would appear that the Internal Auditors had been instructed to undertake an internal audit somewhat narrower in scope than should perhaps have been commissioned, bearing in mind the level and nature of concern being expressed within the University at the time. This is not the fault of the Internal Auditors but rather points to a failure on the part of those responsible for commissioning the audit to initiate a thoroughgoing investigation of all the circumstances surrounding the procurement. In the light of the wider concerns that were being expressed (and of which the University was aware) about the carriage of the HPCF project, the Board has yet to hear any satisfactory explanation as to why a narrower commission than now appears to have been required was given to the Internal Auditors. It is even more difficult to understand why the University's Audit Committee was not more searching and far-reaching in its enquiries when presented with the Internal Audit report, especially given the concerns that were being openly expressed about the HPCF procurement and disposal processes.

35. On the basis of the information currently available to the Board it is hard to avoid the conclusion that there were significant failures of management within the School of the Physical Sciences which allowed the processes of the procurement and disposal of HPCF equipment to proceed without adequate supervision. The Board is also concerned at the apparent lack of vigour and rigour with which the matter was pursued by the University's Audit Committee.

Intellectual Property Rights

36. Members of the Regent House might be forgiven for failing to notice a small Notice in the Reporter of 23 April 200824 which stated:

Technology Appeal Tribunal: Notice

'The Technology Appeal Tribunal met on 1 May 2007 to consider an appeal by Professor Derek Fray, of the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, against the Adjudication by the University Technology Referee, dated 7 September 2006, that Cambridge Enterprise had not acted in breach of Regulation 24 of the Intellectual Property Rights Regulations (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 934). The members of the Tribunal were Professor Sir Hugh Laddie QC, Professor David Feldman FBA, and Mr James Matheson.

'In allowing the appeal the Tribunal noted that it raises issues relating to the scope of the Intellectual Property Rights regulations and the conduct of appeals under Regulation 34. The latter matters are of general significance to the University and its staff. The Tribunal's conclusions in relation to these issues are set out in its decision which is available on-line at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/secretariat/.'

37. The two paragraphs need reading with care to realize that what is actually being announced is that the Technology Appeal tribunal found that Cambridge Enterprise had acted in breach of Regulation 24 of the Intellectual Property Rights (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 934). Following the web reference quoted in the notice requires two more redirections before arriving at the Tribunal's judgement. Members of the Regent House may short-circuit the redirection by using http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/secretariat/ipr/ipr_appeal.pdf directly.

38. The decision did not however escape the notice of the Higher (formerly the Times Higher Education Supplement) whose headline, on 8 May 2008, stated: 'Cambridge suffers a blow to its international reputation'.25 Those who read the judgement cannot but concur. The Tribunal was particularly concerned that avoidable delays in processes compounded the problems, so it is particularly ironic that the judgement that was reached in the Easter Term 2007 took until April 2008 to be reported to the Regent House despite the Tribunal's request for speedy disclosure. The Board understands that at least some of the delay was brought about by a change of heart on the part of the Tribunal as to how much of its decision should be placed in the public domain but, whatever the reason, it is unfortunate that publication was delayed for the best part of a year.

39. The Board has no intention of repeating either the facts of the case or the discussion which led to the Tribunal's conclusions as the Tribunal has laid out both with elegance and clarity.

40. Members of the Regent House may recall the passionate debate that took place between 2002 and 2006 which culminated in the adoption of the current regulations. The regulations which were eventually accepted by the Regent House were certainly much improved by that debate. However Council realized that revision of those regulations would be needed after experience of their use. It is clear from the Tribunal's judgement that Regulation 24 is in need of revision.

41. The Tribunal also pointed out that Professor Fray would receive no redress from the University as a result of his successful appeal apart from 'moral satisfaction and vindication'. The Board takes the view that a revision of the regulations should allow for more substantive redress.

42. During the discussions about changes to the IPR policy there was expressed some scepticism about the ability of the Research Services Division (RSD) to administer technology transfer in a timely and competent fashion. In May 2004 the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research responded26:

This brings me back to the issue of the organizations and people within the University who implement this policy, and in doing so, I would like to stand back and take a broad perspective on the University. It is my aspiration to move forward from the culture of blame and mistrust that I believe has harmed this University, and has caused us to expend a great deal of energy and time on internal matters while the world around us moves on. I sense that there is a growing collective will for change in this respect. While there are clearly concerns about the Research Services Division which will need to be resolved before we can move forward, I believe this policy, in its final form, can be a key element of a more successful technology transfer function whose aim is to enhance the impact of knowledge created within the University on the economy and society in general.

The fact that Professor Fray's treatment by the University took place in the following year (2005) may be taken by some as lending force to the sceptics' doubts rather than Professor Leslie's optimism.

43. The Board recognizes that it is too early in the life of the new Intellectual Property Rights regulations to contemplate a revision of those regulations, let alone a review of the principles underlying them. Nevertheless, in view of the obvious ambiguity, if not obscurity, in the drafting of Regulation 24 - an ambiguity and obscurity clarified by the Technology Appeal Tribunal's decision - the Board recommends the University to append an explanatory note to Regulation 24 in the next and future publications of the University's Statutes and Ordinances which will give members of the University easy access to the construction which the Tribunal found should be placed upon the reading of Regulation 24.

44. The Board has been assured by the current management of Cambridge Enterprise (who arrived in post following the Fray debacle) that they are fully aware of the events and have set up procedures to ensure no repetition occurs and that a successful Technology Transfer function continues taking the inventors' concerns fully into account.

Summary of Recommendations

1. The University should investigate with all expediency the prospect of taking advantage of current market conditions to raise significant sums of long-term funds via the fixed interest markets.
2. A clearer picture of the contribution to finances of the Cambridge 800th Anniversary campaign should be represented in the annual accounts.
3. With the establishment of the University's Investment Office, a more substantial report into its activities and relative performance should be considered for future annual review.
4. A Syndicate should be established as soon as possible to undertake a revision of Statutes and Ordinances.
5. The Project Board of CamSIS should endeavour to fulfil the aspirations of the agreed vision statement.
6. Efforts should continue to improve communications on the VoIP project.
7. The HSO and the VoIP project managers should issue joint guidance on safety requirements for VoIP installations.
8. The University should append an explanatory note to Regulation 24 in the next and future publications of the University's Statutes and Ordinances.


Annex A. Review of the Board's recommendations in its Twelfth Report and of the Council's responses

Recommendation 1:

'Efforts should continue to be made to achieve a more accessible presentation of financial information.'

Response: 'Such efforts continue and the Council gives priority to developing good financial and other information for planning, budgetary, and strategic purposes.'

Comment: The Board acknowledges that the format of the presentation of the accounts continues to become more transparent, though, as the section of this Report dealing with this area suggests, this process can evolve still further.

Recommendation 2:

'The results of the analysis to be provided to the Council and the PRC into the 50% increase in academic-related staff numbers over the last five years should be published.'

Response: 'Information about staff numbers and an analysis thereof is to be provided as soon as possible.'

Comment: The Board welcomes the publication of the Notice of analysis into staff numbers over the last five years27 and the more detailed staff numbers published in this year's Budget Report. The Notice mentions the use of consultants and contractors, who are not reflected in these data, and the Board considers it would be useful to publish figures on expenditure in this area in future years.

Recommendation 3:

'All formal annual or similar reports on transparency, efficiency, accountability, and value for money relating to the UAS should be made available to members of the Regent House.'

Response: 'Subject to proper considerations of confidentiality, including individuals' rights under the Data Protection Act, the Council agrees that such reports about any University institution should be made available.'

Comment: The Board welcomes this response and the availability on the web of the Minutes of the Registrary's open meetings.

Recommendation 4:

'Any reorganization of Non-School Institutions should focus only on areas where expectation of an improvement in performance and value-for-money can be reasonably demonstrated.'

Response: Any reorganization should lead to these outcomes or to improved management, accountability, or service delivery.

Comment: The Board welcomes this response.

Recommendation 5:

'The newly appointed Registrary should be given the opportunity to review the proposals for the development of the UAS prior to their implementation.'

Response: 'The present Registrary, in office from 1 October 2007, is pursuing the development of the Unified Administrative Service.'

Comment: The Registrary has informed the Board that since the Council's response he has:

brought forward a budgetary plan and statement of purpose, strategic objectives and goals for the UAS for consideration through the PRC's planning processes in December 2007. That conformed with the budgetary restriction on growth of 4%. It imposed further savings within the UAS beyond those required to manage within the 4% in order to redistribute resources between divisions and to find the resources to promote key initiatives congruent with the objectives set. These plans were subsequently scrutinized in the normal way, with the key scrutineer being Professor Sir Richard Friend. The plans were approved.

During the Michaelmas term, [he] undertook a series of consultations about the development of the UAS. Those culminated in a paper presented to the Council at its February 2008 meeting. The recommendations within it were approved and those that required a Grace were subsequently approved by the Regent House.

The development of the UAS has also involved the appointment of a new Head of HR (starting on 1 September 2008) to follow on from an interim Head, a new Head of Health and Safety (starting on 1 October 2008), a new Director of Research Services (starting on 1 September 2008) and there have also been some appointments made at Assistant Director level to vacancies in MISD and Finance.

The Board welcomes the Registrary's detailed account of progress. However, the Board will be considering next year the implications of these changes for University policy.

Recommendation 6:

'The Strategic Implementation Plan should be published by EMBS when completed.'

Response: 'This Plan will be published by the Council, rather than by the Estate Management and Building Service, probably in the Lent Term 2008.'

Comment: The Board is informed that the Strategic Implementation Plan is progressing, but would like to see an outcome to this pending report in the near future.

Recommendation 7:

'The forthcoming consultation process on North-West Cambridge should include a Green Paper and a further Report to the Regent House before the outline planning proposal is finalized and submitted.'

Response: 'Discussions are continuing with the local planning authorities on the basis of the previous Report and Grace. The situation is in some respects fluid, and further proceedings may be necessary before fuller proposals can be prepared for consideration by the University. The Council hopes that a Notice can be published as soon as possible.'

Comment: Council has published plans for the development of land in North-West Cambridge,28 which formed the subject of a Discussion before the Regent House.29 The Board welcomes the publication, but regrets that this was in the form of a Report rather than a Green Paper.

Recommendation 8:

See paragraph 20 above.

Recommendation 9:

'The University should review existing electronic and other means of communication with a view to improving the way it communicates with staff.'

Response: 'The Council expects to receive proposals about improving internal communications during 2007-08. A review being undertaken by the Director of External Affairs and Communications is taking place, which will inform these proposals.'

Comment: The review mentioned above is still underway. The Board notes that the new human resources system, CHRIS, will make it feasible to insert messages to members of staff in payslips. This may prove a useful new method to communicate with staff.

Recommendation 10:

'In any future situation where staff are asked to provide information for central processing, all should receive full information on the process and its implications before responses are required.'

Response: 'This recommendation related to the pay and grading process, which was necessarily conducted within constraints of timing and developing policies.'

Comment: There has been no new exercise on the scale of the pay and grading process. However the Board considers that the recommendation stands for any similar exercise in the future.

Recommendation 11:

'Relevant Departmental administrators should be given HERA training to facilitate the grading of new and vacant posts.'

Response: 'Not all departmental administrators need this training. The matter has been referred to the Personnel Committee for consideration.'

Comment: This matter was considered by the Personnel Committee on 24 January 2008. The Committee agreed to implement this as part of a wider training programme on HERA, funding permitting.30 The Board hopes that this can be expedited.

Recommendation 12:

'The University should publish detailed statistical information on staff pay, including all the information promised in the amended Graces of 27 July 2005, as soon as possible and annually thereafter.'

Response: 'Information has already been published about the Pay and Grading exercise (Reporter, 2006-07, p. 612) and about the Professorial pay review (Reporter, 2006-07, p. 770). Further statistical information has now also been published (see p. 220). An equal pay audit and an impact analysis are in hand.'

Comment: The Board welcomes the publication of these data. However it is difficult to compare the position of staff before and after the pay and grading exercise using the available figures. Every member of staff was assimilated onto the spine point at or immediately above their current salary so the salary comparison figures only show increases; however red-circling may lead to decreases after the four year period of salary protection expires. The Board had also hoped to compare patterns of red and green circling across institutions and staff groups, and these data have not yet been made available. The Board therefore looks forward to the publication of the results of the Equal Pay Audit and impact analysis data due in summer 2008.31

Annex B: Glossary of Terms

Budget Report: An annual Report published in the Easter Term that gives details of the University's budget for Chest income and expenditure, together with an outline of the non-Chest budget.
CamCORS: Cambridge Colleges' Online Reporting System for Supervisions.
CamGRAD: Board of Graduate Studies' online reporting system for graduate supervision reports
CamSIS: Cambridge Student Information System.
CAPSA: Not an acronym but the Latin word for a book storage box, adopted as a name for the project to introduce the University's computerized commitment accounting system. This system developed into CUFS.
CASC: Colleges' Administration Software Consortium.
Chest: An income stream consisting of funding council grants, Home and Overseas fees, endowment income, a share of research grant overheads, transfers from CUP and Cambridge Assessment, and certain other operating income.
CHRIS: Cambridge Human Resources Information System.
CUFS: Cambridge University Financial System.
CUP, or the Press: Cambridge University Press.
EMBS: Estate Management and Building Service.
HEFCE: Higher Education Funding Council for England.
HERA: Higher Education Role Analysis.
HESA: Higher Education Statistical Agency.
HPCF: High Performance Computing Facility.
HR: Human Resources.
JTMC: Joint Telecommunications Management Committee.
ISSS: Information Strategy and Services Syndicate.
MISD: Management Information Services Division.
PRC: Planning and Resources Committee (a joint committee of the Council and the General Board).
PVC: Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
RAE: Research Assessment Exercise.
RPI: Retail Price Index
SRIF: Science Research Investment Fund (managed by HEFCE).
UAS: Unified Administrative Service (of the University).
USS: Universities Superannuation Scheme.
VC: Vice-Chancellor.
VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol.

1 Note that this was after an increase to £9.3m in last year's internal transfer to the University Chest of £3.6m.

2 Reporter, Special Number 7, 4 January 2008.

3 See Capital Programme below.

4 Reporter, 3 December 2007, p. 303.

5 Reporter, 3 December 2007, p. 306.

6 Reporter, 18 June 2008, p. 891.

7 Reporter, 4 June 2008, p. 840.

8 See Regulation 24(b) Statutes and Ordinances 2007, p. 338. A fuller explanation of the allowance 'to have attained the honours standard' is given in Reporter, 28 April 1976, p. 702, paragraph 6(v).

9 Reporter, 29 May 2008, p. 820.

10 Reporter, 18 October 2002, p. 97.

11 Reporter, 11 December 2002, p. 389.

12 http://www.camsis.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/about_camsis/project_history/

13 http://www.camsis.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/boards_groups_and_sigs/project_board/20071024_statement.pdf

14 http://www.chris.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/schedule/

15 http://www.chris.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/news/#a19-12-2007 and ISSS 18.04.2008 Paper 05/08 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/committee/isss/meetings/agendas/20080418.pdf

16 Douglas Hartree, John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Mathematical Physics, 1946-1958

17 The earliest minutes available online for the Joint Telecommunications Management Committee are dated 6 February 2004 and refer to the project.

18 https://camtools.caret.cam.ac.uk/access/content/group/156c99a5-2827-4594-0091-57b0bfe75bf3/REPLACEMENT%20TELEPHONE%20SYSTEM%20PROJECT_final3.ppt

19 http://www.phone.cam.ac.uk/

20 http://www.phone.cam.ac.uk/co_q_and_a.html and http://www.phone.cam.ac.uk/net_requirements.doc

21 http://www.phone.cam.ac.uk/docs/Newsletter_Spring_2008.pdf

22 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/committee//jtmc/minutes/20070918.pdf minute 976 (v)

23 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/committee/jtmc/minutes/20070918.pdf minute 979

24 Reporter, 23 April 2008, p. 634.

25 http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=401794

26 Reporter, 26 May 2004, p. 751.

27 Reporter, 23 January 2008, p. 430.

28 Reporter, 19 March 2008, p. 613.

29 Reporter, 8 May 2008, p. 739.

30 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/committee//personnel/minutes/20080124.pdf minute 932/08

31 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/cam-only/committee//personnel/minutes/20071122.pdf minute 901

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Cambridge University Reporter 23 July 2008
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