Cambridge University Reporter


Report of the Council on governance: membership of the Council, etc.

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

1. In the academical year 2006-07 the Council issued a green paper on governance (Reporter, 2006-07, p. 594) which mentioned, for consultation and comment, various propositions about governance which the Council believed were appropriate for consideration. The Council emphasized in the green paper the importance of developing and making even more effective the University's academic self government.

2. A significant number of comments were received, and these will be published on 26 October 2007 (Reporter, pp. 117-74).

3. The Council has considered, at meetings between July and October 2007, the comments made and has concluded that an immediate proposal which should be put to the University for discussion and approval is that the membership of the Council should be adjusted so that the Council can benefit from the service of four rather than two external members. (These are members in class (e), as set out in Statute A, IV, 2.) The Council's reasons for proceeding with this proposal are that there is a recognized need for the participation of external members in the business of the Council and its Committees, and that the existing number of external members, two, does not enable the Council fully to benefit from the service of external members. In particular the number of Committees on which it is possible for two members to serve is obviously very limited. A recommendation for a statutory change to permit four external members is therefore contained in this Report.

4. In the consultation some comment was made about the method of appointment of external members. The Statutes provide for the external members to be appointed by Grace on the nomination of the Council. The Council reaches its recommendations after public advertisement and consideration of applications and of suggestions made both from within the University and more widely, after consideration by a Nominating Committee constituted by Ordinance (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 117) and chaired by the Chancellor, the High Steward, the Deputy High Steward, or a deputy appointed by the Chancellor. On the last occasion the High Steward took the chair. There is also provision for the appointment of non-members of the Council, and persons who are not members of the Regent House. The Council does not believe that any change to this system, which is entirely open, is needed.

5. A possibility which the Council put forward for consultation in the green paper was that one of the external members of the Council should be designated as Chairman, in place of the Vice-Chancellor. The Council also put forward other possibilities designed to improve the Council's procedure, including the appointment of a Deputy Chairman to chair the Council in certain circumstances. The appointment of an external chairman did not find favour in the consultation. The Council does not propose to proceed with it. However, there was recognition in the consultation, and the Council itself is of the same opinion, that it would assist the proceedings of the Council, in particular in relation to the accountability and reporting of the Vice-Chancellor as the principal academic and administrative officer of the University, if there is a well-defined arrangement for a Deputy Chairman to be able to chair the Council in circumstances related to the accountability and reporting of the Vice-Chancellor (and perhaps in some comparable circumstances also).

6. Statute A, IV, 9 provides that the Chairman of the Council shall be the Vice-Chancellor (subject to certain provisions if the Chancellor is present). The Statute provides that if neither the Chancellor nor the Vice-Chancellor is present the Chairman shall be a member of the Council appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to act as her or his deputy, or in the absence of such deputy some other member of the Council chosen by the members present. There seems to be a need also for there to be clear statutory provisions for the Council to be able to designate a Deputy Chairman who can chair the whole or part of meetings in some circumstances, when the Vice-Chancellor is present. The present Statute does not clearly permit this and a statutory amendment to clarify the matter is proposed. In putting forward this amendment the Council emphasizes that it is not intended that the Deputy Chairman identified under the provisions of the proposed Statute should necessarily act in all circumstances if the Vice-Chancellor is not present: the special purpose of this role is to chair Council and committee proceedings in relation to the accountability and terms and conditions of service of the Vice-Chancellor. In particular, the Council emphasizes that a Deputy Chairman would not necessarily be the person appointed to lead any search for the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor. The Council would expect that the Deputy Chairman would normally chair the proposed Remuneration Committee of the Council, once set up.

7. The present statutory provision about the frequency of meetings of the General Board (which provides for fortnightly meetings during Full Term) is out of date. The General Board now finds it appropriate for the efficient discharge of its business to meet approximately monthly, in the same way as do the Council and the Finance Committee. The Council is therefore putting forward a statutory amendment to replace the present requirement by a requirement for the General Board to meet at least twice in each term.

8. The Council therefore recommends to the University as follows:

That the Common Seal be affixed to the following amendments of Statutes and that subject to approval by Her Majesty in Council the Statutes of the University be amended as follows:

Statute A


Chapter IV


Section 2.

By replacing in line 2 and subsection (e) the word 'two' by the word 'four'.

Section 9.

By designating the existing Section 9 as Section 9(a) and by adding a new Section 9(b) as follows:

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 9(a), the Council shall from time to time designate a member of the Council in class (a), (b), (c), or (e), as Deputy Chairman of the Council, who shall take the chair at such proceedings of the Council, not withstanding the fact that the Chancellor or the Vice-Chancellor is present, as the Council shall determine from time to time.

Statute C


Chapter I


Section 9.

By replacing in line 1 the words 'once a fortnight during Full Term' by the words 'at least twice in each term'.


22 October 2007 ALISON RICHARD, Vice-Chancellor S. ENSOR-ROSE DAVID SIMON

Note of Dissent

If the members of Council in classes (b) and (c), for whom there are regular contested elections, are no longer to be the majority on Council, then the mechanics of appointing external members become important. We believe that the nomination process for externals should not involve members of Council. We therefore propose that the Nominating Committee should have a membership disjoint from Council, and we suggest that it be directly elected by the Regent House. For good governance, external members should not feel beholden to those members of Council with whom they serve; and for sound self-governance, a small majority on Council should not be able to build a larger one by appointing like-minded external members.