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Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on a Human Resources Strategy for the University

The COUNCIL and the GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:


1. In November 1999 the University demonstrated its commitment to the development of a comprehensive and coherent strategy of personnel policy and practice by the creation of the Personnel Division, by the appointment of a Director of Personnel, and by the establishment of a single Personnel Committee. Since then many initiatives to improve the effectiveness and the scope of the services offered by the Division have been devised and taken forward. One of the early priorities of the Personnel Committee was to devise a Human Resources (HR) Strategy for the University.

2. The initial work undertaken in devising a Strategy was overtaken by an invitation from the HEFCE early in 2001 for universities to bid for additional funds for rewarding and developing staff through the submission of HR Strategies. The additional funding is available initially over three years, but may continue beyond 2003-04 depending on the outcome of the monitoring and evaluation that the HEFCE will undertake in due course.

3. HR Strategies and their associated action plans must address the key areas identified by the Funding Council: recruitment and retention, staff development, equal opportunity targets and equal pay, staffing reviews, performance reviews, and dealing with poor performance. The HR Strategy must also integrate with each institution's mission and strategic plan and contain targets that can be used to assess the effectiveness of the expenditure of the additional funding.

The University's 'Emerging' and 'Full' Strategy

4. The deadline for the submission of strategies was 1 June 2001. Strategies could be submitted either as 'emerging', in which case funding for the first year only (2001-02) would be given, or 'full', which would secure funding for three years. As that deadline did not allow sufficient time for full consultation on the content, the Council and the General Board approved the submission of Cambridge's bid as an 'emerging' strategy in order to secure the funding for the first year. In drafting the submission, a variety of sources were drawn upon, including corporate strategies such as that on Learning and Teaching, what had been published about HR activity in the Annual Reports of the Council and the General Board, the responses to the invitations to comment on HR issues in the Reporter (9 August and 11 October 2000) and the report on the Equality Audit.

5. Having considered the University's submission, the HEFCE approved the release of the additional funding (£2.14m) for 2001-02. In order to secure funding for the two further years (worth in total over £7.5m) it will be necessary to submit a 'full' strategy by 3 June 2002. The Council and the General Board agreed that there should be wide consultation on the content of the 'full' HR Strategy so that they could submit a Report on the Strategy to the Regent House for consideration.

6. Accordingly, a Notice was placed in the Reporter (31 October 2001) indicating that the strategy to date could be found on the Personnel Division website (http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/personnel/policy/) and inviting comments from members of staff by the end of the Michaelmas Term. It was also agreed that letters should be sent to Faculty Boards, Councils of the Schools, and other authorities inviting their comments. Comments were also invited on matters that should feature in the strategy beyond 2003-04.

7. In addition to comments sought from institutions and authorities and individual members of the University, comments were also sought from the AUT, MSF, UNISON, and ACUA.

8. The consultation elicited only a limited number of responses. None challenged the objectives set out in the strategy, while specific actions for addressing issues of recruitment and retention, revision to employment practices, improvements for assistant staff and con-tact research staff, and policy co-ordination between Colleges and the University were welcomed.

The University's 'Full' Strategy

9. The timetable relating to the consideration and approval of the Report by the University is such that it is unlikely to be possible, because of the University's constitutional requirements, to submit a 'full' strategy that has the approval of the University by the deadline of 1 June 2002. The Council and the General Board have therefore agreed that the version prepared by the Personnel Committee and approved by them for consideration by the Regent House should be submitted to the HEFCE by that date in order to secure the additional funding for the further two years (2002-03 and 2003-04) and that, depending on the outcome of the consideration of the Report by the Regent House, an amended submission be made at a later date to the HEFCE, if necessary.

10. The 'full' HR Strategy approved by the Council and the General Board is set out in the Appendix to this Report.

11. The Council accordingly recommend that the 'full' HR Strategy as set out in the Appendix be approved by the University.

13 May 2002 ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor DONALD LAMING Z. NORGATE

24 April 2002 ALEC N. BROERS, Vice-Chancellor ANDREW D. CLIFF A. C. MINSON
  H. A. CHASE  



HUMAN RESOURCE STRATEGY (submission of 'full' strategy in response to HEFCE 01/16)1

Introduction and background

1. The intellectual creativity of academic and research staff and the skills and dedication of support staff are the University's most important and most valuable assets. If the University is 'to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest levels of international excellence',2 it must ensure that these resources are renewed and their development encouraged.

2. Although extensive, historically, the University's arrangements for personnel management had been developed in an ad hoc fashion, with responsibility for service provision and policy development split between a number of offices and several committees so that a coherent, strategic approach was lacking. In many areas initiatives went beyond legal compliance, for example by membership of the Opportunity NOW campaign. Notwithstanding that, relatively few women sit on key committees or hold academic appointments in the Physical Sciences or in Engineering, while issues of ethnicity and disability have received little attention. A major source of strength is the partnership between the Colleges and the University and this is reflected in the quality of the education afforded to undergraduates. The Colleges are also employers in their own right3 and consequently the relationship is also a source of complexity, for example in respect of arrangements for teaching and in being competitors in the same labour markets.

3. Another great strength is the academic leadership of the University and the protection of academic freedom. However, the governance structures that give expression to this can mean that decision making is slow and that conflicts are difficult to resolve. Further, the lack of infrastructure at University, School, Faculty, and Departmental levels means that the capacity to manage major projects and an ever increasing load, require questions about the deployment of resource between research and teaching and administration to be confronted. Undoubtedly the University is, in many respects, an attractive place to work, particularly for academic staff. Yet many employees do not enjoy the same benefits as academic staff and, for them, the institutional 'culture' is not inclusive.

4. The very success of the University also brings problems. The University has an international reputation that few other UK universities can emulate and it attracts hi-tech businesses to the region and prestigious research facilities to itself (for example, Cancer Research UK on the Addenbrooke's Site and Microsoft at West Cambridge). This success brings with it the need to compete in local and national markets for assistant staff and for professional staff, and with leading universities in the rest of the world for outstanding academic staff.

5. The University demonstrated its commitment to the development of a comprehensive and coherent strategy of personnel policy and practice by the creation of the Personnel Division and the appointment of a Director of Personnel (November 1999), and by the establishment of a single Personnel Committee (April 2000).4 The Division provides a focus for existing and new personnel activity and the delivery of a range of services to the University. Since November 1999 a number of initiatives have been taken to improve the effectiveness and the scope of services offered by the Division.5 Significant developments have also occurred in related functions such as the Occupational Health Service, the Counselling Service, the Safety Office, and the Disability Resource Centre.6 Close working relationships have been forged with these areas, defined by a written protocol and facilitated by regular meetings to discuss health, safety, and disability issues. The remit of the Personnel Committee is wide-ranging and inclusive with an overview of policies, procedures, and practices, and all groups of staff falling within its purview.

6. Through the Personnel Committee, the Council, and the General Board immediate priorities were determined and a number of initiatives were taken, including:

the establishment of Working Groups to look at Recruitment, Reward, and Retention (October 2000), Role Analysis (November 2000), Senior Academic Promotions (August 2000), Contract Research Staff (November 2000), and Appraisal (May 2001); which as well as relieving the Personnel Committee of detailed work, also provide a way of widening participation
the establishment of a Joint Consultative ('3+3') Group between the University and the Colleges (who are independent employers in their own right) to discuss mutual interests in employment matters (July 2000)
completion of an Equality Audit and publication of the results (January 2001)
the establishment of a single Staff Development Committee (October 2001) which reports to the Personnel Committee
submission of an 'emerging' HR Strategy to the HEFCE (June 2001)
the introduction of a Code of Practice for the management of Contract Research Staff (CRS) (November 2001)
approval for a number of key appointments in the Personnel Division to take forward action plans (in respect of CRS, management training, training needs of academic-related staff, and development of programme in academic practice, role analysis, equal opportunities, and management information)

While much progress has been made over the past two and a half years, it is recognized that there is still much more to do.

The development of the HR Strategy

7. Work on the development of a Personnel Strategy was under way before the HEFCE's initiative. Consultation had been widespread, including Notices in the Reporter (August and October 2000) that invited views from members of staff, meetings with key individuals and groups, and by informal discussions with the trade unions. This had brought to light a variety of concerns about matters such as recruitment and retention, institutional culture (in particular differences between staff groups), and a lack of staff management skills. A notable feature was how frequently the same concerns were raised, suggesting that they were key issues to be addressed.

8. The development of the strategy was also informed by an innovative Equality Audit, undertaken with the personal support of the Vice-Chancellor. The audit was conducted amongst all staff to gather information about the experience of what it is like to be an employee of the University. More than 3,000 staff responded to the survey and the findings were published in a report, Equality in the University - Setting A New Agenda (January 2001).7 The audit indicated a need for a more inclusive culture, for attention to be paid to disabled staff, for improved career progression and appraisal, for greater consideration of work-life balance, and for better management skills.

9. A University Strategic Plan was produced in September 1998 and submitted to the HEFCE. However, this was essentially descriptive of the situation at the time rather than forward looking and, in important respects, is now out of date. As noted earlier, a revised mission statement was adopted in November 2001, however a successor plan has yet to be fully developed. Notwithstanding that, in addition to the HR Strategy a number of other corporate strategies and plans have been formulated or are being developed to deliver the University's mission. They include Learning and Teaching, Research, Information Systems, Safety, and the Estate Plan.8 Alongside these key initiatives have also been taken on financial management and governance.

10. Initiatives, such as Higher Education Reach-out to Business and the Community (HEROBC) and the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), and close links with business (through activities such as the Cambridge Network), raise a range of issues, including knowledge transfer, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the nature of the academic contract, and training needs in areas like entrepreneurial skills. Staff development implications also arise out of initiatives such as CARET (the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies) and student selection policy in respect of Access and Participation. With the high cost of housing and associated problems of commuting into the city to work, the University has an interest in seeing the stock of affordable housing increase and in local transport and traffic policies. The University's own Estate Plan has provision for low-cost housing for staff on the West Cambridge Site, while the ancillary Traffic and Transport Plan considers modes of travel to and from work and issues such as car parking, park and cycle facilities, and bus routes. Although the implementation and effect of these measures will be long term, they are directly relevant to considerations of employee recruitment and retention.

11. From an HR perspective the introduction of a new computerized finance system and the move toward devolved budgeting has focused attention on the need to address issues of workload, skills training, the adequacy of administrative infrastructures in academic Departments and Faculties, and project management. Currently a major consultation exercise is taking place on the University's arrangements for governance. Proposals being debated concern change in the roles of the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro Vice-Chancellors and Chairs of the Schools, the composition of the Council (the University's principal policy making and executive body), and in relation to the Regent House (governing body of the University).9 Although the outcome is as yet not clear, it is likely to lead to further training needs, improved internal communication (see 45 below), and accelerate cultural change. Several new administrative Directorates have been created and the Unified Administrative Service has undergone a restructuring in order to provide more effective and efficient services. It is crucial that through the development of its committee structure, governance arrangements, and less formal networks there is early and mutual awareness of objectives and activities arising from all these various developments.

12. With respect to the environment in which the University operates, key factors are:

competition for staff from other leading universities in the UK and overseas, particularly in the USA
full employment in the local labour market for professional and support staff and consequent problems of recruitment and retention
the high cost of housing in Cambridge and associated problems of commuting into the city which are particularly acute for junior and lower paid staff
changes in patterns of work and in roles
the impact of employment legislation (including equal pay considerations; the Race Relations (Amendment) Act; the implementation of the EU Fixed Term Work Directive; health and safety issues including stress and disability
national arrangements for joint negotiation and pay restructuring
the Concordat and the Research Careers Initiative
the Institute of Teaching and Learning
the recommendations of the Follett Report in respect of appraisal, staff discipline and reporting arrangements for senior clinical staff
Government policy with regard to student numbers, funding, equality of opportunity, accountability, and scrutiny
- Government's concern, as identified for example by the HEFCE in 00/56 and 01/16, of priority areas for action in institutional HR strategies:
- recruitment and retention
- staff development
- equal opportunities (good practice and equal pay)
- reviews of staffing needs
- performance review
- poor performance

13. While open to learning from best practice wherever it is found, Cambridge's position within the HE sector is likely to lead in the future to greater co-operation with a small group of like universities, both overseas (e.g. MIT) and in the UK (amongst the Russell Group). In the sphere of HR, much will also depend on the developments in relation to the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, the newly established Joint National Committee for Higher Education Staff, and national pay structures.

Components of the University's HR Strategy

14. Key drivers are the need to recruit and retain staff of the highest quality in academic and key support functions and to ensure an environment in which the potential and skills of all staff can be fully realized. In keeping with its mission and traditions, the University will want policies arising from its HR Strategy to fulfil its obligations as a good employer, comply with external statutory requirements,10 be inclusive, transparent, and fair. It will want to retain academic control over key areas of policy and decision making, while enhancing the institution's ability to manage effectively and efficiently, and devolving, wherever appropriate, authority and responsibility.

Recruitment, reward, and retention

15. The wide consultation, previously mentioned at 7 above, produced much anecdotal evidence about the difficulties of recruitment, most of which is undertaken at Departmental level, and retention. Widely reported across all staff groups was a decline in the numbers of appointable candidates, while particular problems were identified in certain academic disciplines (where there is keen competition from other UK universities and from overseas), administrative staff in academic Departments (see 40 below), and in some central administrative functions such as finance (where experienced staff had been lost in an early retirement exercise in 1998-99 and had not been adequately replaced) and Information Technology (IT). Although the University had put in place some arrangements to address these problems, they were perceived as inadequate. Moreover, little had been done to tackle perceived shortcomings in the University's salary structures, methods of salary determination, appointment procedures, conditions of employment, staff management, and the sense of 'exclusion' felt by many staff.

16. The elements of a reward policy that could begin to address these issues and which would also meet objectives of equal pay and find acceptability in the University were set out in the first report to the Personnel Committee of the Working Group on Recruitment, Reward, and Retention (November 2000). These included:

recognition that if the University is to maintain its academic excellence, it must compete not only with universities in the UK but with the best in the world;
recognition that problems relate to all staff groups (and to those at the start of their careers or lower paid as much as 'stars') and that action is required across the board;
the determination of basic salary by a common grading methodology as the bedrock on which other elements of reward policy could rest;
that the link between the arrangements for determining the pay of academic and academic related staff was no longer appropriate;
mechanisms to deal with market forces, performance, and additional responsibilities;
the significance of pay and non-pay rewards;
transparency in criteria and perceived fairness in the operation of processes;
compliance with legislation regarding equal pay and discrimination;
the need for quantitative data to be developed that could inform policy.

17. Measures that have been taken since the submission of the 'emerging' strategy to assist recruitment and retention of academic and related staff, include the abolition of the policy of age-related salaries (January 2002), which gives welcome flexibility in determining starting salaries, and the introduction of a house purchase shared equity scheme (March 2002), which is targeted at key academic and professional staff for whom competition is national and, in some cases, international. Consideration will be given to extending the latter scheme to other staff groups, while recommendations are being formulated in the Working Group to extend the scope of financial assistance available generally for those relocating to the Cambridge area. Under present arrangements appointment to the offices of University Senior Lecturer and Reader is by promotion. For some academics who already hold appointments with these titles at other universities, this can be a deterrent to taking up appointment at Cambridge. In order to assist recruitment, proposals to allow appointment to these offices after advertisement and to abolish University Assistant Lectureships were put to consultation (Lent Term 2002) and commanded wide support. Accordingly, changes to the Statutes and Ordinances are going forward for consideration to the Regent House.

18. In the Summer (Easter) Term a value for money study on recruitment advertising will commence. Recruitment literature will be recast to draw attention to the non-pay benefits available and, although vacancies are advertised extensively in the local press and the University engages with the local community in activities such as Science Week, consideration will be given to ways in which the University can be regarded as the first employer of choice in the local labour market. Also, the provision of advice to applicants and new staff on a wide range of matters, including schools and childcare arrangements, will be expanded.

19. Consideration is also being given by the Working Group to proposals for dealing with market forces. Although anecdotal evidence is available, this requires underpinning by reliable and up-to-date pay data relating to the relevant labour market and of the extent of difficulty in recruitment and retention so that cases can be considered against the criteria the Working Group is developing. Some useful comparative data on salaries within the sector exists already in the remuneration survey of senior academic and related staff undertaken by UCEA and collation of local market data has recently begun (February 2002). This information is also being combined with data on turnover and the evidence from exit questionnaires. As anticipated, early results confirm that pay is by no means the only factor in the recruitment and retention of staff.11

20. Many other factors bear on the University's ability to recruit and retain staff. Examples include making initial appointments on a fixed-term basis and reappointments for limited periods as currently prescribed by Statutes and Ordinances; work-life balance and the provision of nursery facilities and flexible working arrangements; career and developmental opportunities; and how well (or poorly) staff are managed. The Personnel Division is comprehensively reviewing existing HR policies and procedures to ensure that they are up-to-date, to assess the scope for harmonization between staff groups and to ensure that in effect they do not lead to (unlawful) less favourable treatment. Revised maternity provisions have been approved that harmonize provision between staff groups, while at the same time taking account of changes in statutory regulations. Through work in the 3+3 Group (see paragraph 6 above), revisions to the complex arrangements governing work done by University staff for the Colleges have been introduced. At the request of Council, a review of the terms and conditions of academic-related staff has been undertaken and proposals, including the introduction of open-ended contracts, subject to a structured probationary period and terminable by notice, are currently out to consultation. The Working Group is currently looking at rationalizing the various arrangements for regrading and discretionary awards for non-academic staff. Reference to initiatives in regard to training and development is made below (see paragraphs 24-27).

Role analysis and salary restructuring

21. At present several different job evaluation schemes apply to assistant staff. There is no scheme applicable to officers, grading assessments being done by broad comparisons of duties and responsibilities between posts.12 The introduction of a common grading methodology is a keystone on which to build a reward policy and ensure equal pay. After consideration in the Role Analysis Working Group, it has been agreed to assess the suitability of the Higher Education Role Analysis scheme (HERA) as a common grading methodology. A pilot phase was planned to last for one year (2001-02), and provided the scheme proved suitable for general implementation, it was intended to assess all non-academic posts within three years (by 2004-05). Although the appointment of a Pay and Remuneration Manager to lead this project has been delayed, an appointment has now been made and the intention remains to make an assessment of the suitability of HERA by the end of the current calendar year. As anticipated in the emerging strategy, collaboration with other universities is now taking place over weightings and with regard to good practice.

22. While broadly following the national salary structure, the University has numerous local salary scales. Slow progress at national level means that a single, national salary spine will not now be introduced on 1 August 2002 to replace the existing range of scales. Notwithstanding that, once a sufficiently wide range of roles have been assessed following the introduction of a common grading methodology, it is intended to begin a comprehensive restructuring of the University's scales (with completion probably in 2003-04) using a suitable salary modelling tool. In the meantime some 'tidying up' of existing local scales (for example, those for Computer Officers) is being undertaken to assist recruitment and retention.

Senior academic promotions

23. The Personnel Committee has been charged by the General Board with reviewing the procedures for promotion to Reader and Professor. Together with the introduction in 2001 of a procedure for promotion to University Senior Lecturer, these are the principal means within the University by which individual performance in research, teaching, and scholarship is evaluated and recognized. As well as making general improvements to the procedure in the light of experience of its operation over the last five years, a proposal to conflate the separate procedures for promotion to Senior Lecturer and to Reader and Professor into a single senior academic promotions scheme has been welcomed in consultation. Detailed drafting is underway with a view to introducing a new procedure for 2002-03, including provision for disabled and interdisciplinary candidates, improvements to the definitions of the criteria for promotion, and (as already referred to in paragraph 15 above) greater clarity about the career path available for academics. As a consequence of the increasing number of promotions to Reader and Professor, consideration will have to be given to the requirements on the holders of such offices to undertake teaching duties.

Development and training

24. Within the Personnel Division an integrated staff development function has been established that is forging collaborative links with other training providers in the University such as the Computing Service, the Disability Resource Centre, the Cambridge Admissions Office, and the Safety Office. The Unit builds on the successful work already done in respect of academic and assistant staff. Examples include the development of a Programme in Higher Education Practice that in the future may provide an accredited route to membership of the ILT (Institute for Learning and Teaching) and the Youth Training Programme that was highly rated by the Training Standards Council in 2000-01. That work has been extended to academic-related staff, whose needs have been the subject of a scoping study over the past 12 months and for whom a structured programme of training and development will now be implemented, and contract research staff (see 30 below).13 In response to the findings of the Equality Audit and in the light of the experience of the introduction of the new finance system, a programme of accounts training has been introduced and there is also a renewed focus on management training needs. This includes new induction training for Heads of Departments, increased provision for recruitment and selection (12 courses a year commencing May 2002), appraisal training (see 38 below), and the development of a coherent programme covering areas such as people management, project management, and financial management.

25. The diversity of structures within the University means that staff development activities may be centrally organized (as part of the central Staff Development programme), that they may take place under the auspices of newly developing bodies located outside the Departmental/Faculty structure (such as CARET and the Cambridge/MIT Institute) or that they may take place - as is increasingly the case - in local institutional settings, supported by the Staff Development team. The Unit is engaged with the University's Learning and Teaching Strategy, for example, in developing a cadre of local trainers to support supervisor/demonstrator training; in engaging with the Institute for Learning and Teaching; and in evaluating the impact of pedagogical support posts on learning and teaching at Cambridge and other universities in a collaborative project, ('PROMOTE').14 The unit is supporting initiatives with respect to access, including the Disability Resource Centre's promotion of inclusive teaching approaches and in respect of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act, the Disability Discrimination Act, and the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act.

26. Notwithstanding what is said above, it is recognized that staff development (SD) provision needs to be better informed. A University and College wide system of staff development liaison officers is being established to facilitate information transfer about staff development needs and staff development activities. A computerized course booking system has been in place since September 2001 that allows information and reporting on involvement in training and development activities to be recorded and analysed. This will assist the planning of future activities and facilitate research into the determinants of staff engagement with development activities.

27. The new Staff Development Committee has given preliminary consideration to a first draft of a policy for staff development (November 2001), the development of which will be guided by the University mission. It will consult widely over this before commending a final version to the Personnel Committee and the central bodies (Autumn (Michaelmas) Term 2002). This policy will relate not only to staff in University institutions, but also to relevant staff in associated institutions (notably the Colleges), which provide undergraduate or postgraduate teaching, and non-staff members such as graduate students. Working Groups will be established to consider key issues such as skills shortages and how these might be met through development activities. The Committee is also likely to commend the extension more widely in the University of an early start date for new academic staff, particularly those who have not had prior experience of the Cambridge environment, to allow for SD activity at the beginning of appointment. A major issue that the policy will address is the nature and scope of training in management skills at all levels and whether elements of this and other training should become mandatory. There will be a regular review by the Staff Development Committee of outcomes against the plan. With advice from the Higher Education Staff Development Agency (HESDA), this will be complemented by a quality assurance scheme (including external assessment) in respect of staff development activity with the target of a first review being undertaken in 2002-03.

Contract Research Staff

28. The University employs over 2,000 Contract Research Staff (CRS) and its standing in research is due in no small part to their efforts. Initiatives prior to 1999 included a survey on the implementation of the Concordat on Contract Research Staff Career Management (1997), a mentoring scheme in the Faculty of Engineering, and the inclusion in the staff development programme of a number of courses of particular relevance to CRS.

29. Since then through the relevant Personnel Committee Working Group (on which the University Careers Service is represented) a review of existing provision against Concordat and Research Careers Initiative requirements and practice in other leading research universities has been undertaken. Significantly, this has resulted in a Code of Practice Document for the Employment of Contract Research Staff (November 2001) which sets out information on recruitment, appointment, and salary; terms and conditions of employment; staff management; training and development; career development; and the end of contract; and also includes an induction check list and a 'frequently asked questions' section.

30. Other initiatives include:

being a 'founding institution' of CVs.ac.uk, a dedicated website for the recruitment and redeployment of CRS;
appointments of a Staff Development Officer (February 2001) and a Personnel Consultant (June 2001), each of whom has as part of their remit a particular responsibility for CRS;
an investigation into the training needs of Principal Investigators in the Engineering Department (2001) which will be extended to other Departments in 2002-03;
setting up a dedicated website for CRS;15
improving the participation of CRS on courses through the local P.DOC website, through fortnightly e-mail bulletins and targeting CRS via a dedicated course brochure;
participating in the national Contract Research Online Survey on the career development of CRS (run from the University of Bristol);
holding a series of seminars concerning the introduction of a code of practice for Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Departments concerning gender specific barriers to the progress of women (see 32 below);
a further review of employment practice toward CRS in the light of the Fixed Term Working Directive.

31. In common with other groups of staff a probationary scheme will be developed for application to those CRS whose length of appointment makes this appropriate. The latter will be the precursor to the introduction (2003-04) of a wider scheme for career management, and consideration of other schemes, for example, for bridging funds.

Equal Opportunity

32. The focus of much of the previous work in this area has, appropriately, been on gender issues and the institutional goals defined in the context of membership of the Opportunity NOW campaign. One aspect of this was the launch of the Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology Initiative (WiSETI) in March 1999.16 The WiSETI Advisory Committee has adopted (February 2002) an action plan with the key objectives of developing a 'tool kit' of best practice guidance (with input from the Athena Project) for SET Departments; exploring the scope for participation in the US-based MentorNet scheme; increasing the application rate for women in SET Departments (see 35 below) by way of a programme to identify suitable candidates; and the inauguration of a WiSETI lecture. The initiative will be 'mainstreamed' by incorporation into the HR Strategy. Interest in gender issues, with a focus on ensuring a gender balance on key committees, has been reinforced by the setting up of an informal senior academic women's advisory group (January 2002).

33. Opportunity NOW goals will continue to be pursued. These include monitoring and publishing the relevant data17 on a range of matters including appointments, promotions, and numbers of research students, for possible indirect discrimination and reviews of the effectiveness of existing policies on flexible working and bullying and harassment. However, under the imperative of recent and impending legislation (on disability, race, age, etc.) and in the light of the Equality Audit and the adoption of a Race Equality Plan for staff and students in response to the Race Relations Amendment Act, a more holistic approach to equality issues is required. A plan, Disability Discrimination in Employment - Putting Disability on the Agenda, containing 25 action points has been presented to the Personnel Committee, the Council, and the General Board (January 2002) and will now be put into practice. A Disability Access survey is also being conducted by the Estate Management and Building Service.

34. Routine monitoring and publication of the relevant data currently includes all grades by gender, ethnicity, and disability; a trend analysis of women's employment in major staff grades; recruitment data for assistant staff by gender and ethnicity; and promotions and regradings by gender. The scope of data collection and analysis will be extended. The introduction of a common grading methodology, in part to address the issue of equal pay, has already been mentioned (paragraphs 21-22). Additionally an equal pay audit will be conducted. An identified gap of 5% or more in levels of pay between men and women or staff from different ethnic groups on the same pay scale will be investigated to establish the reason and recommendations will be made for any necessary remedial action.

35. Monitoring shows that in respect of academic and academic-related offices application rates from women continue a slow increase (least marked in the Schools of Technology and Physical Sciences where application rates are 20.5% and 12.8% respectively) and that for the first time in 1999-2000 women were appointed in a higher proportion to their rate of application in every School. For assistant staff, women continue to be appointed in slightly higher percentage than they apply. Generally, the proportion of applicants from ethnic minorities is steadily rising and they are appointed in the same proportion as they apply. Turning to promotions and regradings, there appears no gender bias in outcomes, though the small number of women applying for Professorships has been noted. Setting targets in terms of numbers of staff by gender or ethnic origin is rather more problematic given that a lot of recruitment for academic staff takes place in an international market and there is virtually full employment in the local labour market. However, more work is being done in this area and early consideration will be given to bringing forward specific proposals.

36. While national initiatives like the Equality Challenge Unit are welcomed, major change will come about by effective action at institutional level.18 Immediate action has therefore being taken to provide greater support to Departments by the appointment of a Personnel Consultant (Equal Opportunity), the production of a guidance manual concentrating initially on recruitment and selection (Employment Guidance, October 2001), and the provision of associated training activities.


37. Appraisal for academic and academic-related staff was introduced in 1987-88 and for assistant staff in 1992. Implementation has been 'patchy' for a variety of reasons, including lingering doubts about the appropriateness of conducting appraisals in an academic, non-managerial environment and competitive pressures on individuals' time. Nonetheless the Council and the General Board are in no doubt as to the need for systems of appraisal19 and, indeed, 12 Departments surveyed in October 1998 confirmed that undertaking appraisal had brought positive benefits. Traditionally appraisal schemes in the sector have focused on the developmental needs of individuals.20 Effective schemes may also serve to improve communication within the institution and enhance performance as well as career progression by consideration of individual and institutional and departmental objectives and, where appropriate, review of performance against those. In many organizations (but not typically in universities) there is also a direct link between the appraisal process and pay.

38. The lack of regular appraisal in some parts of the University has been commented on during the consultation mentioned at paragraph 7 above and in the Equality Audit. Accordingly, a Working Group was established to consider this matter and has made recommendations for a new 'Staff Review and Development Scheme' that will offer flexibility to institutions in the University to use appraisal in a 'best fit' fashion, while providing a common framework. This will enable appraisal to be used not only for developmental purposes, but also, in those parts of the University where it is appropriate, for other purposes such as performance review. These proposals are currently the subject of consultation with a view to the introduction of new arrangements for the academical year 2002-03. A comprehensive programme of training has also been planned to coincide with the introduction of the new scheme with regular monthly courses to be offered from October 2002. In respect of Clinical Academic Staff the recommendations of the Follett Report require specific arrangements to be put in place for joint appraisal with the local Trust.

Reviews of staffing need

39. Planning assumptions for the University as a whole have been agreed by the Planning and Resources Committee as follows: growth of 0.5% a year in undergraduate numbers; 2% a year in postgraduates; 3.5% in numbers of research staff. At the same time the University is entering on a period of financial stringency, which will severely constrain the capacity to meet increased demand by the allocation of additional resources. A Resource Allocation Model, which will operate at the level of the Schools, is being developed. At a Departmental level there exists already a well-established system of periodic Departmental reviews undertaken by the Council and the General Board that takes account of staffing levels, and devolved budgeting will reinforce the importance of this activity. A development plan for the Unified Administrative Service is being drafted and this will attempt to look forward and assess staffing and other needs up to 2005. To support these initiatives, reliable and timely data on staff will be required; this is addressed further at paragraph 47.

40. Attention has been drawn by the Shattock and Finkelstein reports21 to the inadequacy of the administrative infrastructure in both the central administration and at Departmental, Faculty, and School levels in terms of the numbers and qualifications of staff. The devolution of resource management will give Departments the opportunity and greater flexibility to meet their identified staffing needs, but will require difficult decisions on the deployment of resources as between research and teaching and infrastructure. The measures to improve recruitment and retention, the new focus on administrative staff development needs, the proposed survey of skill shortages and the reporting of staff development activity will prove useful here. The situation might also be ameliorated by a scheme for the planned rotation of administrative staff (assisted by the creation of a number of supernumerary posts). In order to facilitate the redeployment of staff who are not appropriately deployed, a member of the Personnel Division will be assigned the role of redeployment officer.

Performance reviews

41. There exist already a range of performance indicators such as the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the results of which place the University in the top rank. To these can be added Transparency Review and the work on performance indicators being done in the Joint Committee on Academic Performance (of Students). The critical task here is to maintain the outstandingly high standards by ensuring the recruitment and retention of the highest quality staff, their continued development, and provision of a supportive environment.

42. Elements of performance related pay are already in place through the annual schemes for promotion, discretionary and accelerated increments, and payments for excellence to assistant staff. However these have been developed in an ad hoc fashion and the need for greater coherence, transparency, and linking to the attainment of objectives and standards through appraisal, where this is appropriate, has already been noted. Also as mentioned above (paragraph 20), the Working Group on Recruitment, Reward, and Retention is recommending that these schemes are brought together in a single exercise. The introduction of structured probationary arrangements for all groups of staff will provide another mechanism by which early performance will be reviewed during the early stages of appointment, while the proposed career management scheme for CRS will include review of expected length of employment and suitability for more permanent appointment. Although HEFCE 01/16 speaks in terms of annual reviews and often this may be the optimal cycle for some types of assessment, such reviews should be undertaken at intervals that are most appropriate to their purpose.

Poor performance

43. Notwithstanding the outstanding performance of Cambridge staff as a whole, particular cases of poor performance do arise from time to time across all staff groups. The key to dealing with them is to be proactive and identify problems and to take remedial action at an early stage. This will require the development of management expertise to identify problems and take corrective action. This will be assisted by the introduction of probationary schemes for all staff groups, regular appraisal, particularly where performance is assessed against objectives, and a general improvement in staff management skills. Mention has already been made of the reviews of terms and conditions and procedures (including disciplinary procedures) of academic-related staff. It is also noted that a revised Model Statute will shortly be commended to universities for adoption. Again, the recommendations of the Follett Report in respect of clinical academic staff are also relevant here. There is also interest, particularly in some administrative areas, in the use of pay to regulate performance and the Working Group on Recruitment, Reward, and Retention will be giving this further consideration.

44. It is intended to undertake formal monitoring of cases of poor performance (2001-03) and to try to establish their causes (which are likely to include poor recruitment practice and inadequate induction and training). It is also intended to monitor sickness absence (including work-related stress) with a view to reviewing existing policies and procedures in these areas. Close collaboration between the Personnel Division and the services mentioned in paragraph 3 is helping the early identification of individual cases and trends and is essential to enable monitoring to be carried out. With regard to resource implications in the Occupational Health Service, the previously mentioned review recognized that an increase in physician sessions would be required and therefore some contingency will be made for this. Another cause of poor performance may also be interpersonal disputes. Accordingly, a pilot project has been launched (May 2001) using the services of the Cambridge and District Community Mediation Service to provide mediation that may lead to dispute resolution.

Communication and employee relations

45. The only formal mechanism for collective consultation with employees is the University and Assistants Joint Board on which the recognized trade unions for assistant staff, ACUA, AMICUS, and UNISON, have representation. Over the past two and a half years more regular and informal consultation with the trade unions (including the AUT, which has recently been accorded recognition rights in respect of representation in personal cases) has been introduced and found to be a useful complement to the existing arrangements. From March 2002 the agenda and minutes of key committees (including the Personnel Committee) will be put on the Web. If it is to be effective, the University's HR Strategy should be widely disseminated. The extensive consultation that is taking place does that for the time being and the necessary Reports to the University in respect of many of the detailed actions will continue interest and awareness. In addition to using the Reporter and University Newsletter which are widely available in the University, the Personnel Division has a website and produces a newsletter News and Views that is circulated to Departmental administrators and Joint Board News that is posted on notice boards and is available on the web. As quickly as resources allow, the Division has been extending the use of the Web (while recognizing that not all staff have access to it) for information and is about to start a project to develop distribution lists from the staff database.

The Personnel Division

46. An integral part of the University's personnel strategy must be an effective and quality assured personnel function. Details of the range of services provided is given in the accompanying organization chart (Annex 2). With accommodation becoming available to allow the integration of functions in the Division, attention has turned to improvements to the delivery of services and, associated with that, the development and adoption of service standards against which performance can be assessed (these are to be publicized in April 2002). The Division is also seeking to find more efficient and effective ways of providing services and hopes to introduce contract production direct from entry of information onto the staff database. The Division is also making extensive use of the Web for communication and business processing purposes.

47. The importance of reliable management information has already been mentioned. Limited access is to be made available to Departments and Faculties.22 Full integration of the existing databases on the SECQUS (personnel database) system and consideration of integration with other IT systems are matters that will be pursued as resources allow. Although no decision has been taken to replace the existing SECQUS database, a scoping study for a new computerized personnel information system will be completed by the end of the academical year 2003-04. Of course, the resource that the Management Information Services Division will be able to commit to HR developments will also be critical and an Information Systems Strategy Group has now been established.

48. Although a system of quality assurance is being introduced into the Unified Administrative Service, it is felt important to undertake an extensive review of the Personnel Division toward the end of 2003 with implementation of outcomes in 2004. The review would involve wide consultation within the University and expert, external assessment. It is also proposed to undertake more work on benchmarking to compare the resources available to the Division with HR Departments within and outside the sector. Some work on this has already been done within the Russell Group and has shown that the ratio of professional staff to employees is significantly lower than in the private sector and public sectors.

Delivery and review of strategy

49. Once the HR Strategy is finally approved, it is intended to implement it in a stepped fashion in keeping with the resources available. The Personnel Committee will be responsible for monitoring progress and the effectiveness of policies against the action plan.

50. Clearly, funding will be critical to the delivery of many elements of the HR Strategy. In respect of CRS, Research Councils and other external sponsors should continue to be encouraged to provide resource to underpin the recommendations coming out of the Research Careers Initiative (RCI). Especially important will be the continuation on a recurrent basis of the full additional funding that HEFCE is providing under 01/16. This will allow a number of actions to be undertaken earlier than would otherwise have been possible. However, it must be reiterated that the additional funding will not be sufficient to cover the full cost of taking action on all the priorities that HEFCE itself has identified.

22 Report to the Information Strategy Group, November 2001.


Staff Development Programme 2001-02

Introductory courses

Induction and Safety Session
Introductory Conference for New Staff
Introductory Course for New Academic Staff
Introductory Course on Lecturing: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Introductory Course on Lecturing: Sciences
Undergraduate Supervision
Using Computers and Data Projectors to Illustrate Lectures
Course for Newly-appointed Examiners

Learning, teaching, and research-related issues

Becoming an Educational Mentor
Commercial Exploitation - An introduction to writing a business plan
Dyslexia Awareness
Effective Voice Projection: An introductory course for lecturers
Effective Voice Projection: Advanced
External Examiners: Making the best use of them and being an effective one
Giving More Effective Supervisions
How to Evaluate your Teaching
The Institute for Learning and Teaching
Introduction to Conference Presentation Skills
Intellectual Property
Postgraduate Supervising
Preparing Grant Applications: A general introduction
Research Project Management for Principal Investigators
Running a Seminar or Class
Setting and Marking Examination Questions
Student Interviewing and Admissions
Student Selection Interviewing
Supporting Students Experiencing Emotional and Mental Distress
Surviving Supervising (for recently started supervisors)
Teaching Disabled Students
Teaching Skills: a one-day course for graduate students
Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Disabled Students
Voice and Pronunciation for non-native English Speakers

Management and employment issues

An Introduction to Health and Safety: Risk Management
Building for Inclusion Course
Creating a Deaf User-friendly Environment
Determining Priorities and Managing Time
Disability Discrimination
Discipline and Grievance
Equality Issues
Essentials for Heads of Institutions
Handling Difficult People
Harassment Awareness and Legal Liabilities
Interpersonal Conflict Management and Negotiation
Introduction to Strategic Planning and Management
Introductory Certificate in Management
Introductory Diploma in Management
Leadership and Motivation
Making Fieldwork Accessible to Disabled Students
Managing and Developing Effective Teams
Managing for Quality
Managing Information
Managing Relationships at Work
Offering Disabled People a Good Face-to-Face Service
Recruitment and Selection
Recruitment and Selection for Heads of Institutions
Understanding and Managing Staff Performance: academic and academic-related staff
Understanding and Managing Staff Performance: support staff
The University and Disabled People
Women into Management
Working Safely with Display Screen Equipment

Personal and career development

Active Listening for Advisors and Tutors
Achieving Balance in your Professional Life: Mid career review
Are You Receiving Me? An introduction to communication skills
Career Guidance
Coaching Skills
Early Career Review: The Madingley Seminar
Fair's Fair - Assertiveness in Action
Giving Effective Presentations
Improving your Customer Service
Improving your Minute-taking Skills
Microsoft Access 2000 - Getting Started
Microsoft Access 2000 - Further Use
Microsoft Excel 2000 - Getting Started
Microsoft Excel 2000 - Further Use
Microsoft PowerPoint 2000 - Getting Started
Microsoft Word 2000 - Getting Started
Microsoft Word 2000 - Further Use
Mid-life Planning for Retirement
More Effective Committees and Meetings
Navigator: A career development programme for men who are support staff
Personal Safety Awareness
Pre-retirement Course
Pre-retirement Preparation
Press Your Point: Dealing with the Media
Science, Scoops and Soundbites
Securing the Next Position 1: Career choice, job search, and job application skills
Securing the Next Position 2: Individual CV analysis
Securing the Next Position 3: Interview technique
Securing the Next Position 4: Individual videoed mock interviews
Springboard: A women's development programme
Staff Appraisal - A course for people who will appraise others
Staff Appraisal - A course for people who will be appraised
Stress Management
The Programme in Higher Education Practice
Was it Something I Said? - Advanced communication skills
Winning a Hearing in Meetings

Computer skills training courses

Computer Skills Training Courses

Financial training

An Introduction to the General Ledger
An introduction to the University Financial System (UFS)
Income Collection
Purchasing and Payables
Reporting in the General Ledger

Health and safety

Specific Hazards of Cyanide and Hydrofluoric Acid
Fire safety
Fire Safety Awareness
Fire Safety for New Fire Safety Managers
Fire Safety for Fire Wardens
Use of Extinguishers on Live Fires

Engineering techniques

Safe Working with Wood
Abrasive Wheels
Safe Use and Operation of Machine Tools

Other courses and opportunities

Board of Continuing Education
Home Office Licensee Training
The Language Centre
Library and Information Assistant's Certificate
University Youth Training Programme
Vocational Training
Employee Development Initiative
Career Development Loan

1 The 1 June deadline for responses to 01/16 did not allow sufficient time for full consultation on the submission made to HEFCE through the usual route of a Report to the Regent House and the first draft was therefore submitted as an 'emerging' strategy.

2 University Mission, Grace 6, 14 November 2001.

3 The Personnel Division and the Personnel Committee do not have any formal responsibility for the employment policies and practices of the Colleges.

4 Personnel functions were largely carried out in the General Board Division in the Old Schools and the Assistant Staff Office at 25 Trumpington Street; the relevant committees were the Work and Stipends Committee (in respect of academic and related staff) and the Assistant Staff Committee.

5 These include the designation of senior staff in the Division as Personnel Consultants and their assignment to the Schools of the University (June 2000), the integration of staff development activities into one unit on a single site (February 2001), the creation of a Personnel Information Office (November 2000) and its subsequent amalgamation to form a single Personnel Systems and Administration Office (November 2001).

6 Following a major review, the Occupational Health Service became managerially responsible to the Director of Personnel in November 2001. The University's first Director of Health and Safety was appointed (May 2000) to head up the Safety Office. A Staff Counsellor was appointed (September 2000) to the Counselling Service in connection with the formulation of the University's stress policy, and a Disability Resources Centre for staff and students, funded jointly by HEFCE and the University, was established (in 2000).

7 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/personnel/equality/.

8 Originally produced in March 1995 as the Estates Strategy for submission to the HEFCE.

9 'Cambridge Changing' at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/pr/2002020601.

10 For example, a proactive approach has been taken with regard to the forthcoming introduction of regulations implementing the EC Fixed Term Working Directive (July 2002). Proposals for necessary changes to practice and in the Statutes and Ordinances are being made, while the Personnel Division is offering assistance to Departments in adapting to the changes.

11 Pay as a 'hygiene' factor having the potential to dissatisfy (rather than motivate) if it is perceived to be significantly out of line within the University and in terms of the market. Responses to the exit questionnaire routinely sent to assistant staff indicate that the principal reasons for leaving are relocation and career development; pay is cited as the reason in only 10% of cases.

12 In the case of Departmental Secretaries a ranking based on a number of measures of the size of the Department is the prime determinant of grade, even though the duties might be essentially the same.

13 Annex 1 lists activities in the Staff Development Programme 2001-02.

14 In respect of pedagogical roles, this will assess development needs, their impact on the quality of teaching and learning, and their relationship to career paths, appraisal systems, and pay structures.

15 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/personnel/crs/.

16 With initial funding for two years. The aim of WiSETI is to improve the University's performance in gender equality in SET Departments by encouraging women entrants, encouraging participation in Springboard programmes for staff, graduates, and undergraduates, and encouraging mentoring schemes.

17 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/1999-2000/weekly/5804/9.html.

18 Response to HEFCE Consultation Document 00/21, Improving Equal Opportunities for Higher Education.

19 Reporter, 1999-2000, p. 567.

20 UCOSDA survey on Appraisal in HEIs (1997).

21 CAPSA and Its Implementation, October 2001 (http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2001110501).

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Cambridge University Reporter, 15 May 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.