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Report of the General Board on Senior Academic Promotions: Notice

13 July 2009

The Council has received the remarks made at the Discussion of this Report (Reporter, p. 828) and has referred them to the General Board who have commented as follows:

The remarks of the two speakers that relate to the subject of the Report cover two matters:

(a) funding available for senior academic promotions

The Board have already responded to the comments on this matter made by Dr N. J. Gay at the Discussion of the General Board's Annual Report for 2007-08 (see the Council's Notice, dated 16 March 2009, Reporter, 2008-09, p. 590). The Board understand that subsequently Dr Gay has been provided by the officers with further information about the process followed by the Resource Management Committee for determining the allocation to fund the cost of promotions.

(b) the senior academic promotions procedure

Dr Gay, in referring to his earlier remarks at the Discussion of the Thirteenth Report of the Board of Scrutiny (Reporter, 2008-09, p. 128) asserted that decisions about promotion are no longer made in relation to a common set of objective criteria but instead by subjective and arbitrary assessments. Dr Gay provided no evidence in support of these assertions. The procedure for ranking applications, according to their relative strength in the categories: outstanding, worthy of consideration, and below threshold, is set out at section 9.16 of the Procedure and Guidance for Senior Academic Promotions, 1 October 2009. The Guidance emphasizes that 'In their consideration of applications Committees must adhere to the criteria set out in Section 5. They must not import considerations into their evaluations which may be construed as additional criteria'.

The Board are grateful to Dr Gay for his suggestions of possible procedural improvements: these will be referred to the group which they have set up to undertake a review of the senior academic promotions procedure (see the Board's Notice, Reporter, 2008-09, p. 908).

The Council notes that reference was also made to the number of Freedom of Information requests received by the University. In the first six months of 2009, 80 requests were received; far short of the figure of 50 a day quoted.

Dr Gay also referred to a surplus returned by the University of £42m in 2007-08. This figure is included in the consolidated accounts for all elements of the University (including the Press, Cambridge Assessment, and the Trusts) and includes all income and funds for restricted purposes held by Departments and other institutions. The reported operating surplus cannot therefore be interpreted simply as funds available to the University for expenditure. The Chest represents the central fund available to Council for paying the core costs of the University including academic salaries. The Chest surplus for 2007-08 was approximately £4m, slightly more than 1 per cent of Chest income.

The recommendations in the General Board's Report were approved by Grace 6 of 3 June 2009.

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Cambridge University Reporter 15 July 2009
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