Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6220

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Vol cxli No 24

pp. 645–684

Fly-sheets reprinted

The following fly-sheets, etc., are reprinted in accordance with the Council’s Notice on Discussions and Fly-sheets (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 112).

Ballot on Grace 1 of 23 February 2011

‘Placet’ Flysheet

Grace 1 of 23 February 2011. That approval be given to the Council’s intention to propose an access agreement to the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, for his approval, pursuant to Regulation 12 for University Composition Fees (Statutes and Ordinances, 2010, p. 160).

This vote concerns the ability of the collegiate University to sustain its commitment to world-class education and research.

It is not about whether we approve of government policy. A Regent House that wishes its own institutions to be governed by Statutes and Ordinances cannot sensibly or legitimately vote to damage its finances and reputation through futile gestures against a government policy that has been approved by Parliament.

Nor is this a vote about the University’s procedures. The over-compressed schedule for decision is dictated by government. We do not have the luxury of leisured deliberation.

Nor is this a vote about the structure of student support through fee waivers and maintenance bursaries. There is much that all can agree on: that the most talented and high-achieving applicants should have access to a Cambridge education regardless of social background and financial circumstances; that the University and the Colleges should and will continue to support them appropriately during their studies; and that we should also put the necessary resources into demonstrating to potential candidates, to schools, and to government, that it is so. Legitimate arguments about the right balance of support will doubtless continue. Since predictions on the future effects of various types of support are purely speculative, we may find that the balance will anyway need to be adjusted in the light of experience.

None of these is the core issue for immediate decision. At the moment the University and the Colleges subsidize undergraduate education by about £8,000 per student per year. Such a high level of recurrent subsidy is probably unsustainable, but even the current Grace would not significantly reduce it: a £9,000 composition fee is necessary merely to maintain our historic levels of support for education. If the Grace fails, educational provision will have to be reduced.

To put it crudely: a vote against the Grace is a vote in favour of additional crippling cuts of up to £30m per year. A vote against the Grace is a vote in favour of losing several hundred jobs (or perhaps for a substantial pay cut across the board). How would this help the maintenance of standards in undergraduate education?

We therefore urge you to vote Placet to this vital proposal.

M. Amrani

Simon Franklin

J. Rallison

S. Balasubramanian

Andrew Gamble

Paul Russell

N. Bampos

C. A. Gilligan

M. J. Rutter

Jennifer Chase Barnes

Lynn F. Gladden

J. K. M. Sanders

Sally Boss

David Good

D. R. Sargan

William Brown

A. L. Greer

J. G. P. Sissons

Jeremy Caddick

Andy Hopper

N. Slater

D. A. Cardwell

W. Jones

R. J. Stibbs

T. K. Carne

T. W. Körner

M. J. Tilby

H. A. Chase

Matthew Kramer

V. S. Vassiliadis

A. Ciulli

James M. R. Matheson

I. H. White

Sarah Coakley

Mark Miller

S. J. Young

Athene Donald

G. D. Moggridge

C. F. Forsyth

Rachael Padman


As senior members of the University heavily involved in the recruitment and selection of undergraduates, we the undersigned deplore the current government’s decision to withdraw public funding from undergraduate education and instead to require that the cost be overwhelmingly borne by individual students and their families. It is, however, clear that if the current level of education and support for our undergraduates is to be maintained, the University and Colleges have no choice but to seek to charge the maximum fee allowed. Even should we do so, our current financial position will not be recovered for a number of years. The alternative will see us unable to sustain the world-class provision that is a key to attracting students to apply to Cambridge.

While we have no choice but to charge the maximum permissible fee, it is imperative that Cambridge remains accessible to the best students regardless of socio-economic or educational background. We must put in place the most ambitious arrangements for student support and Widening Participation activities that can be afforded. We support the University’s proposal to devote £10m p.a. to these ends. This strong initial position should be built upon through a bold and determined fund-raising programme.

The proposal that we should seek to admit between 61% and 63% of our UK students from state-sector schools and colleges is appropriate. This target is based upon the current pattern of public examination performance in schools and colleges, and is consistent with maintaining the highest academic standards in this University. If state education continues to improve, we hope that it may prove possible to raise the target. We therefore urge members of the Regent House to vote placet.

H. Babinsky

Patricia Fara

R. J. Partington

A. G. Bell

A. M. Fulton

Brechtje Post

Veronica Bennett

Stephen Hladky

M. J. Sewell

Cecilia Brassett

Martin Hughes

P. Stirling

J. M. Bunbury

J. Keeler

M. A. Taylor

Caroline Burt

James Kelly

Andrew C. Thompson

D. A. Cardwell

Lesley J. MacVinish

Steve Watts

Colm-cille Caulfield

Stuart Martin

M. Wormald

K. J. Dickers

G. T. Parks

Flysheet for publication with the Council’s Grace on proposed arrangements for the University Composition Fee for UK and EU undergraduates from 1 September 2012 (Reporter, 23 February 2011)

In its statement published in the Reporter on 23 February 2011, the Council offers eight short paragraphs in response to the numerous detailed and pointed questions that were asked of it in the Regent House discussions of 18 January and 1 February 2011. These responses are embedded in a document which explains the rationale for the decision to charge the highest possible tuition fee and which outlines the system of quotas and bursaries that may be put in place to offset the negative impact of that fee. Although the University is already committed to charging the highest possible fee by Regulation 12 of the regulations on Composition Fees, the Council seeks ‘confirmation’ of its procedures and ‘approval’ of the resort to Regulation 12 at this particular juncture.

We do not consider the Council’s response to the Discussions of 18 January and 1 February to be adequate. In particular, we wish to draw attention to the Council’s statement ‘that campaigning politically is not an activity in which it must necessarily engage as part of the University’s mission and risks wrongly presupposing a consensus among members of the Regent House on the issues involved’. This statement echoes the Council’s claim ‘that ascertaining whether an informed consensus exists within the University (particularly on the timescale of fast-moving political events) is difficult’. We believe that the Council has done little to establish whether there exists within the University an informed or an uninformed consensus on the recent changes to higher education funding. We question whether standing up in defence of higher education in the face of unprecedented government cuts and political interference in our historic mission counts as ‘political campaigning’, and whether it is in any sense inconsistent with our charitable status.

We therefore ask members of the Regent House to use the current Grace as an opportunity to let the Council know of the scale of opposition to its activities by voting ‘non placet’ as their first choice in the current ballot.

If members objecting to the Grace wish to support one of the proposed amendments, we ask that they consider placing ‘non placet’ high in their ranked order of votes.

R. A. Alexander

C. M. Hills

I. K. Patterson

M. B. Beckles

S. Houghton-Walker

Michael Rice

D. L. Bowman

M. Hrebeniak

M. S. Rodrigues Alves de Magalhaes

N. R. M. de Lange

E. L. Hunter

S. J. Schaffer

B. Etherington

S. P. Jarvis

M. L. S. Sørensen

C. Gagne

C. A. Jones

T. E. Stammers

S. M. Garrigan Mattar

A. King

S. R. S. Szreter

Heather Glen

L. P. King

Isobel Urquhart

Priyamvada Gopal

M. R. Laven

C. G. Warnes

F. M. Green

Raphael Lyne

E. L. Wilson-Lee

M. J. Gwiazda

A. J. Martin

Stuart Wimbush

Anita C. Herle

J. J. Meggitt

Andrew Zurcher

David Hillman

R. Mengham

Grace 1 of 23 February 2011: Proposal of an access agreement to the Director of Fair Access and undergraduate fees from 2012–13

We, the undersigned Heads of Colleges, sign this flysheet to ask members of the Regent House to vote placet in the ballot on the Grace to approve the Council’s intention to propose an access agreement to the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education. The approval of such an agreement will authorise the introduction of a £9,000 undergraduate fee for Home/EU students from 2012–13. The Council have said that, if the Grace is approved, they will exercise their powers to introduce such a fee.

The matter was discussed for about an hour and a half at a meeting of the Colleges’ Committee on 19 February 2011 and it was unanimously agreed to support the Council’s Notice and Grace.

Many of us regret deeply that benefits of free education that we enjoyed are no longer available to students today. All of us are determined to do what we can, through our Colleges, to ensure that Cambridge remains open to the most able students regardless of means and background. Moreover we recognise that matters of detail concerning the proposed access agreement, and concerning the division of future expenditure between fee-waivers and bursaries, remain to be resolved and are in any case likely to evolve as things move forward. But as to whether the University should proceed now as the Council propose, we have no doubt and urge you to vote placet in the forthcoming ballot.

A. J. Badger

B. J. Everitt

Martin Rees

J. C. Barnes

Ross Harrison

Duncan Robinson

Richard Bowring

Dame Patricia Hodgson

S. J. Smith

William Brown

Christopher Hum

Sarah Squire

M. J. Daunton

F. P. Kelly

Jean O. Thomas

Sir Richard Dearlove

Stuart Laing

Janet Todd

Adrian K. Dixon

Robert Lethbridge

David Wallace

Christopher M. Dobson

Paul Luzio

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill

John Eatwell

Robert Mair

Lord Wilson of Dinton

Richard J. Evans

K. B. Pretty

A. D. Yates

Flysheet on Grace 1 of 23 February 2011

Grace 1 of 23 February 2011. That approval be given to the Council’s intention to propose an access agreement to the Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, for his approval, pursuant to Regulation 12 for University Composition Fees (Statutes and Ordinances, 2010, p. 160).

The Government has announced major policy changes and funding reforms, but has yet to provide many of the details. At the end of February yet another delay was announced to the publication of the White Paper, and at the same time the Office of Fair Access (OFFA) missed its deadline to publish guidance on producing access agreements. The HEFCE funding announcement for 2011/12 is scheduled to be made in mid-March, and it will not be until May that the HEFCE begins consultation on the allocation in 2012/13 of what little remains of teaching grant. With policy still in a state of flux, and with far from sufficient information, the University is being asked to ‘fly blind’ over matters of the utmost importance.

In such circumstances, the University would be wise to give itself maximum flexibility. At present the OFFA is demanding that if the University wishes to charge more than a basic fee of £6,000 it will need to submit its access agreement in early to mid-April. While there may be a dispute as to how large the shortfall in the University budget would be if no access agreement were approved (and a fee of £6,000 was charged), there is little doubt that the shortfall would be significant and there would be severe financial consequences. We believe that the best option available to the University, and the one that retains maximum flexibility, is to seek permission from the OFFA for discretion to charge up to the maximum fee, while not setting a fee until necessity demands. Given that the Oxbridge closing date for UCAS applications is mid-October, necessity is probably early summer, by which time one might idly hope that the Government, the OFFA and the HEFCE would have got their acts somewhat more together. At that stage sufficient financial information may be available for the University to set less than the maximum fee.

We understand that amendments have been submitted to disentangle the separate issues of the application to the OFFA and the setting of the fee. If one (or more) of these amendments is accepted for ballot, we urge support for disentanglement.

However, whether or not the amendments are accepted, we also urge support for an application to the OFFA for discretion to charge up to the maximum fee; on the basis that if there were to be no access agreement the resulting cuts would severely restrict the University’s ability to continue to deliver world class education and research.

We therefore ask you to support disentanglement (if that option is available), and to vote Placet for the submission of an access agreement.

M. Amrani

Stephen Eglen

J. Papaloizou

Edward Brambley

Philip Ford

Malcolm J. Perry

Colm-cille Caulfield

C. F. Forsyth

Adrianna Pesci

Michael R. Clark

J. L. Gluza

Catherine Pitt

Stephen J. Cowley

Peter Haynes

L. C. G. Rogers

Timothy K. Dickens

N. J. Holmes

R. J. Stibbs

R. J. Dowling

D. W. Holton

C. A. Tout

Katherine Edgcombe

E. S. Leedham-Green

Statement on behalf of the Council

The Notice and Grace respond to three issues that are intended to sustain the University of Cambridge beyond the proposed government cuts in direct funding for teaching to HEIs.

Submissions to the Office of Fair Access (OFFA) – The first step is to carefully formulate our submission to OFFA (which must be finalised in only a matter of weeks) in order to make the case for the University to charge up to the maximum composition fee of £9,000 for undergraduate education. Cambridge delivers great value in terms of pastoral and academic support, high retention rates, employability of our graduates, and the global impact of our scholarship. If a significantly increased charging regime is to operate, we do a disservice to all parties concerned to pretend that this level of support costs little – it does not. No matter how the exact cost of educating an undergraduate at Cambridge is calculated, a fee of £9,000 will cover just over half that cost.

Financial Support – Any proposal for charging higher fees is predicated on the understanding that the collegiate University will put in place financial packages to ensure that students are no worse off in Cambridge than if they choose to apply to other universities in the UK. The balance of bursaries and fee waivers will need to be established based on more than anecdotal evidence, and will need to satisfy the OFFA Regulator, but our success in offering effective bursaries at present gives reason for confidence that we will be able to do as well, or better, under any new structure.

Widening Participation (WP) and Access – A key element in our proposal to OFFA will be the targets we set for admitting students from state schools. The constituencies in the University responsible for admissions have agreed that a target of 61–63% for students being admitted from state schools is challenging but equitable and achievable. Under the proposals outlined in the Notice, a contribution of at least a further £1m will be directed to our outreach and WP activity to compensate for the cuts in existing funding streams.

Council shares the frustration expressed by members of the Regent House at Discussions, forums, and flysheets regarding the haste of the government’s proposals. However, calculations based on the best available information, suggest that charging less than £9,000 will fail to make up for earlier cuts and the impending 80% cut in the teaching budget; these cuts generate a deficit equivalent to several hundred posts (even after disregarding what would otherwise be spent on bursary and similar provision).

Like those who spoke at the Discussions, all relevant University and intercollegiate bodies have deliberated extensively on the potential impact of the cuts and considered how the University can best ameliorate the effects on the institution as a place of teaching and research. The PRC Working Group on Fees and Bursaries has formulated a model for bursaries and fee-waivers that acts as a first approximation of what is affordable and effective, but there is still time to get the details right once we see OFFA’s conditions.

Our priority is to support the collegiate University in order that we can exercise academic freedom, maintain the capacity to admit those candidates we believe most likely to benefit from the opportunity of coming to study at Cambridge, and continue to support the full spectrum of subjects, in both the arts and sciences. Choosing to protest against the government by opposing the Grace will harm the University, its staff, and students, and do little to solve the crisis that might confront us.

For the reasons outlined above you are urged to vote ‘placet’ to the Grace.

Nick Bampos

on behalf of the Council