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The Council have considered the remarks made at the Discussion held on 24 January 2006 (Reporter, p. 370).
The Council are grateful for the constructive remarks of the Chairman of the Board of Scrutiny.
The Council agree that it would be useful for documents such as the blue paper on strategy associated with the Vice-Chancellor's address on 1 October 2005 to be available for the record in some suitable form, normally, as the Board suggest, on a website with a short Notice in the Reporter.
The Board asked the Council to consider including in future Annual Reports a record of attendance of members at meetings of the Council. Members of the Council are particularly diligent in their attendance, as recorded in the webbed Council minutes, meeting by meeting, and the Council therefore see no particular need to include attendance information in their Annual Reports. The Council draw attention to the statutory safeguard (Statute K, 8) which provides that the University may make Ordinances in pursuance of which a member of the Council, of any Board, Syndicate or Committee or the Council of a School shall, if not a member ex officio, vacate his or her membership on account of failure to attend meetings.
Professor G. R. Evans referred among other things to the proposed simplification of student complaints procedures. She suggested that it was intended to dispense with one of the stages of the present procedure. In fact that is not the case and the proposals under consideration are intended to speed up the procedure by simplifying the formal stage of the process. A detailed announcement will be made shortly.
In relation to the remarks of Mr K. J. Boyhan, the University has no jurisdiction in relation to a complaint made by a student concerning his or her College. The College Visitor may have or have had jurisdiction, and the Independent Adjudicator is able to review a complaint, even though the internal complaints procedures have not been exhausted, where a student claims that an institution has taken a long time to process it.
The Council have noted the remarks of the Chairman of the Board of Scrutiny about the General Board's Report and have referred them to the Board.
The Vice-President of the Cambridge Association of University Teachers spoke about the general level of University pay. Improving pay levels in the University is a matter of high priority for the central bodies, and is an important factor in maintaining and improving our national and international competitiveness. The current implementation of new arrangements for pay and grading provides a key mechanism through which this can be achieved, as resources permit.
The Council wish to inform the University about two particular matters raised in the discussion of the Board's Report: (a) the International Education Office is indeed part of the University Offices (Academic Division), and (b) Ordinances made by the General Board are initially published in the Reporter as soon as they are made and are collated in the annual edition of the Statutes and Ordinances.
The Board have also commented as follows:
With regard to Dr N. J. Holmes's remarks on behalf of the Board of Scrutiny, the Board welcome the recognition that the University has to be able to resolve major concerns about the performance of Departments. However, they reject the assertion that, in the case of the Department of Architecture, the Board's concern escalated at an early stage in the process; the research performance of the Department had been under review by the General Board since the outcome of the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise. The Board regret that, for reasons outside their control, what was properly an internal University matter became the subject of wider interest.
The Board are disappointed that Dr D. A. Galletly thought it appropriate to comment on the election to the Professorship of Sustainable Design. The Board wish to place on record their opinion that the Board of Electors, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and with a majority of membership from outside the Department, acted in accordance with the terms of the Board's Report and the research strategy of the Department.
The Council welcome the remarks made by the Chairman of the Board of Scrutiny.
Reference was made in other remarks to the work of the Audit Committee and Risk Steering Committee. The functions and composition of these committees are published (see Reporter, 2005-06, p. 259 and Special Nos 5 and 12; see also http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/offices/secretariat/risk/committee/). Indeed the Audit Committee is, since December 2005, a statutory committee of the Council.
Remarks were also made about staff costs: a further statement about these will be published in due course.
The Council have noted the other remarks made.
The Council are submitting a Grace to the Regent House for the approval of their Annual Report (Grace 1, p. 507).
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Cambridge University Reporter 22 March 2006
Copyright © 2006 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.