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Annual Reports of the Council and the General Board, and Financial Statements of the University for 2007-08: Notice

16 March 2009

The Council has considered the remarks made at the Discussion held on 20 January 2009 of the Annual Report of the Council to the University, the Annual Report of the General Board to the Council, and the Reports and Financial Statements, all for the year 2007-08 (see Reporter, p. 450).

Annual Report of the Council

Reference was made in the Discussion to the revision of the Statutes and Ordinances. This is already in course: a process of revision of Statute U is already being undertaken. A process of consolidation of Orders (approved Graces which are of continuing effect and which are not in the form of ordinances) is in course. When these processes are complete it will be possible to consider the next stage or stages. The Council at present envisages that a scoping exercise will be initiated later in 2009, probably in the Michaelmas Term, and that a carefully conducted process of revision will then be undertaken. It would be wrong to underestimate the work which will be necessary.

Professor G. R. Evans referred to the Consultative Committee of the Council. This was a former statutory committee of the Council and advisory to it, including external members, established following the Report of the Wass Syndicate. It was, however, abolished by Grace 1 of 9 February 2005 and by Order in Council dated 14 December 2005, as indicated in successive editions of the Statutes (see Statutes and Ordinances, 2008, p. 9, former sections 6 and 7 of Statute A, V).

Dr M. R. Clark, a member of the Council until 31 December 2008, referred to the steps by which the current White Paper about Statute U (which was the subject of Discussion on 3 February 2009, to which the Council will reply later) was arrived at. The Council and the General Board had ample opportunities to discuss the proposals in the White Paper. These proposals arose from widespread consultation about an initial Green Paper, issued in January 2008 (Reporter, 2007-08, p. 404) and discussed by the Council at a strategic meeting in March 2008. After further work, the Council and General Board held a joint informal meeting on 22 October 2008 to discuss the proposals for the reform of Statute U, to which Heads of Schools were also invited. After further consideration by a working party, the General Board and the Council then considered formally the question of how to present the proposals from the working party to the University at meetings on 12 and 24 November 2008 respectively. As a result, the Council agreed to publish the White Paper as a next stage in a process of consideration of these important matters by the University. Thus the White Paper, published on 4 December 2008, was for discussion and consultation in the University. After the end of the period of consultation, 13 March 2009, the working party will be considering if and how the proposals in the White Paper need amendment before submitting proposals to the General Board and the Council for publication as a Report, proposing legislation, for discussion and consideration under the University's normal legislative procedures.

The Registrary has considered the question of the participation of individual members of the working party in framing the proposals which came forward to the Council for publication from the record of its meetings and communications between its members. The record confirms that all members of the working party were closely involved in the preparation of the proposals presented and that all concurred with the final form of what was published in the White Paper.

Reference was made to the June 2008 HEFCE Assurance Visit and the report of this visit. The report is published on p. 591 of this issue of the Reporter.

Annual Report of the General Board

Comments were made about the Senior Academic Promotions process, in particular the funding for promotions. The current scheme for the consideration of senior academic promotions was approved by the Regent House in 2002-03 (Reporter, 2002-03, p. 98). The Report stated (para 5.16) that the number of promotions it will be possible to approve in a particular year might be influenced by the University's general financial situation. It is not the case, as asserted by Dr N. J. Gay, that in setting the financial provision for promotions no account is taken of retirements. The General Board receive advice on the appropriate level of provision from the Resource Management Committee, which takes into account a range of information, including retirements and academic staff turnover more generally, which contribute to overall expenditure on pay. Having taken those factors into account in setting the level of available funding, it is appropriate to refer to the gross additional cost of the promotions stated in the Report setting out the Board's recommendations. Dr Gay contrasts that additional cost of promotions with the surplus returned in 2007-08 by the full University (including Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press). As the Financial Review, which prefaces the Financial Statements for 2007-08 (Reporter, p. 230), makes clear, that surplus is largely attributable to Cambridge Assessment, whereas the operating surplus (£5m) on the University's teaching and research activities represented less than 1% of turnover. A mechanism is already in place for the regular transfer of surplus from Cambridge Assessment to the Chest and thus to benefit the University's teaching and learning activities. In the face of the rising costs, and uncertainties about income, referred to in the penultimate paragraph of the Financial Review, it would not be realistic, in the Board's view, for the cost of academic promotions to be immune from the system of budgeting and financial control that applies to all other areas of Chest expenditure. The Council concurs in this judgement.

The Council has noted the comments about the election of student members of the Councils of the Schools and has referred them to the General Board for further consideration.

Comments were made about the review of teaching and learning support services on which the Board have now received responses from a wide range of bodies and groups, including Faculty Boards, the Councils of the Schools, and the Library Syndicate. Those responses, together with experience elsewhere, will be taken into account in the implementation of the proposals. Where such implementation requires consideration by the Regent House, or approval by Grace, the necessary propositions will be put forward in the normal way.

Reports and Financial Statements

The Council has noted the comments made by the Chairman of the Board of Scrutiny. Remarks made about the Senior Academic Promotions process are referred to above.

The Council is submitting a Grace for the approval of the Annual Report (which includes the General Board's Report) (Grace 1, p. 601).


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Cambridge University Reporter 18 March 2009
Copyright © 2009 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.