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Report of the Council on Reserved Fellowships at Wolfson College

The COUNCIL beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. By Grace 1 of 26 May 1965 the University approved the establishment of University College (subsequently renamed Wolfson College). Under the original provisions the Council agreed to provide financial support from the Chest from 1965 to 1975 to help with the establishment of the College, and a scheme of Reserved Fellowships was introduced whereby the College was to reserve thirty of its Fellowships for University teaching officers who had been appointed to the retiring age and who were not Fellows of another College. In 1984 the Council agreed, under the provisions of Statute D, I, 1 of the College, that the number of Reserved Fellowships should be reduced from thirty to twenty by 1994. In 1994 the Council reviewed the scheme and agreed that it should continue without change for a further five years when it should be reviewed again. The Council have recently completed a further review of the scheme in consultation with representatives of the College, and they wish to recommend that the scheme should be discontinued.

2. The main problems of the Reserved Fellowships scheme are as follows. The College has no control over the choice of Fellows elected under the scheme, and this creates difficulties for the College in achieving the optimum range of subjects represented on the Fellowship. Moreover, because of demographic effects the great majority of those elected under the scheme are men, and this makes it difficult for the College to achieve its aim of achieving a better representation of women among the Fellowship. These effects have led to imbalances within the Fellowship as a whole.

3. Wolfson is now a mature College, having received its Charter in 1976. The Council consider that it is anomalous that the College should continue to be bound by arrangements which, although valid in 1965 when the University provided initial financial support for the establishment of University College, are now difficult to justify 25 years after financial support from the University ceased. Whatever the original merits of the scheme may have been, it is now archaic; no other College is constrained by such arrangements; and the Council are satisfied that the time has come for the arrangements to be discontinued.

4. Since its inception in 1965 the Reserved Fellowships scheme has resulted in the election of a substantial number of Fellows who have played a valuable role in the College. It is nevertheless clear that the scheme makes no significant impact on the number of University teaching officers without College Fellowships. There are currently over 200 such officers, and the Reserved Fellowships scheme at Wolfson College produces on average only between two to three new elections each year. The Council remain concerned at the number of University officers (in particular teaching officers) without College Fellowships, and they have drawn their concern to the attention of the Colleges' Committee in the hope that the problem will be addressed by the Colleges collectively. The Council have agreed to provide the Colleges' Committee with administrative support to facilitate a more sharply focused approach to this problem.

5. The Council have received assurances from the Governing Body of Wolfson College that, if the scheme of Reserved Fellowships is discontinued, there will be no reduction in the number of University officers elected to Fellowships at the College. Although Wolfson is among the least well-endowed Colleges it has greatly increased the number of Fellowships in recent years. There are typically between 60 and 70 University officers on the Fellowship, within a total of about 130. The College has demonstrated its commitment to offer Fellowships to a substantial number of University officers, and in the Council's view there is every reason to believe that it will continue to do so if the Reserved Fellowships scheme is discontinued.

6. If the recommendations of this Report are approved, no further elections to Reserved Fellowships (known as 'Title B' Fellowships) will be made by Wolfson College. However, existing Fellows under Title B will continue to hold their Fellowships under that title, having regard to the relevant provisions of the College Statutes, for so long as they wish to do so. The Governing Body of Wolfson College have agreed to propose the repeal of those College Statutes relating to Reserved Fellowships as soon as there are no Fellows remaining under that title.

7. The Council recommend:

I. That, subject to the approval of Her Majesty in Council, the Statutes of the University be amended by the repeal of Statute G, I, 11, and that this amendment be submitted under the Common Seal of the University to Her Majesty in Council for approval.

II. That the regulations and accompanying schedule for Reserved Fellowships at Wolfson College (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 891) be repealed.

20 November 2000

ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor

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Cambridge University Reporter, 22 November 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.