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No 6249

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Vol cxlii No 14

pp. 326–357



19 December, Monday. Michaelmas Term ends.

5 January, Thursday. Lent Term begins.

11 January, Wednesday. First ordinary number of the Reporter in the Lent Term.

17 January, Tuesday. Full Term begins.

21 January, Saturday. Congregation of the Regent House at 2 p.m.

24 January, Tuesday. Discussion at 2 p.m. in the Senate-House (see below). End of first quarter of Lent Term.

Notice of a Discussion on Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Vice-Chancellor invites those qualified under the regulations for Discussions (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 107) to attend a Discussion in the Senate-House, on Tuesday, 24 January, at 2 p.m., for the discussion of:

1. Annual Report of the Council for the academical year 2010–11, dated 21 November 2011 (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 216).

2. Annual Report of the General Board to the Council for the academical year 2010–11, dated 2 November 2011 (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 222).

3. Reports and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 July 2011 (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 227).

4. Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 28 November 2011 and 2 November 2011, on the provision of sites and buildings regulations (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 269).

5. Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 12 December 2011 and 30 November 2011, on a retirement policy for University staff (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 347).

6. Report of the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine, dated 28 November 2011, on the M.D. Degree (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 314).

Board of Scrutiny: Sixteenth Report (2010–11): Notice

12 December 2011

This Notice is the Council’s reply to the Board of Scrutiny’s Sixteenth Report (Reporter, 2010–11, p. 1061) and the Discussion of it held on 11 October 2011 (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 78).

The Council believes that the University should be grateful to the Board for its constructive and thoughtful Report, and indeed for its thorough work during the year.

The Council comments below on the specific recommendations of the Board’s Report:

1.The Board recommends that the performance results for the Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF) should be made more widely available throughout the University. In particular, the annual summary performance report that is distributed to investors in the Endowment Fund should be published in the Reporter.

The University is constrained in the extent it can promote the CUEF under its regulation by the Financial Services Authority. Annual and quarterly performance summaries are provided to entities related to the University which are investors and to the managers of internal funds investing in the CUEF. An annual investors meeting is held and performance and asset allocation information is published in the University’s Financial Statements (with commentary in the Financial Review) and in the Financial Management Information Reporter.

2.The Board recommends that the Council routinely include a section on underlying assumptions, including inflation, pay awards and all other critical inputs in all future Budget Reports.

The guidance that precedes each annual planning round is available at and gives indicators for pay and non-pay cost inflation. These will, in future, be included in the Budget Report.

3.The Board recommends that all inflation planning assumptions, together with all other relevant planning inputs be set at realistic levels, consistent with long-term UK averages for the HE sector.

The Council believes that planning assumptions are realistic, but that contemporary circumstances and not long-term averages are the best guide if forecasts are not to be mere trends.

A range of indicators are reviewed before the guidance is issued. Estimates of pay costs take account of volume change and other factors such as incremental drift as well as possible future pay awards. Realism and caution are essential. The Council is concerned to ensure that unrealistic assumptions do not lead to unrealistic expectations. The Board is reminded that the forecasts are reviewed annually to maintain a rolling five-year view.

4.The Board recommends that the Council outlines the University’s strategy for ensuring that research income meets projected targets.

8.The Board recommends that the Council outlines the University’s response to the trend towards funding larger grants linked to strategic themes rather than individual research.

Overall, the University’s research income grew by 7.5% in 2010–11 compared with 2009–10. Notwithstanding this, the University remains acutely conscious of the potential problems arising from sponsors having very different arrangements for paying indirect overheads. For example, the Research Councils pay 80% of Full Economic Costing; with the charities the University receives partnership QR in the HEFCE block grant but no overheads; the EU pays a flat 20% of the overall cost while contributions from industry depend on individual negotiation. Meanwhile, in the present difficult economic climate, it is not surprising to learn that sponsors are trying to obtain the same amount of research, or more, for less outlay. The University needs to manage a balanced portfolio of research funding since any significant move away from the present level of Research Councils’ support would seriously compromise our ability to recover the full contribution towards centrally-incurred costs.

The General Board and the Research Policy Committee (RPC) have already taken steps to enhance the University’s grant-winning capabilities. Researchers are being encouraged to win more and bigger grants through the RPC’s formal programme of Strategic Research Initiatives and Networks. These will provide a framework on which the University can build major funding bids, which demonstrate clear academic leadership and goals, broad support from the academic community and a substantial potential to attract new partnerships and research funding. The RPC are providing modest sums for a period of three years as pump priming for these areas of activity, the first four of which were awarded University Strategic Initiative status in 2010 (Neuroscience, Infectious Diseases, Stem Cells, and Conservation) with a further three in 2011 (Language Sciences, Cancer, and Energy). The University’s commitment to this scheme now stands at around £1.5m over a three-year period.

Concurrently, the University is improving its internal structures to achieve a better return on overheads. A more cohesive approach to costing and pricing has been introduced across the University Research Office and with particular attention being paid to strengthening procedures for scrutinizing large grant applications and to reclaiming more in eligible costs on EU grants. Meanwhile the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) is leading a project to improve the incentive structure for Departments and individual Principal Investigators while the RPC, recognizing the need for enhanced and comparative management information, has set up a Working Party to be led by the Director of the Management Information Services Division (MISD).

As the Board points out, there is a growing demand for larger, internationally excellent research teams within research calls. The claimed advantage of these substantially higher value grants is that they bring greater efficiencies while incurring lower indirect costs. But the University remains fully committed to the valuable and diverse research arising from single investigator research. The RPC has demonstrated this commitment by providing funding to support two research facilitators in the Schools of Arts and Humanities and the Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, dedicated funding has been allocated to these same two Schools to compensate for the loss of the British Academy and ESRC small grants schemes and also to protect Ph.D. studentship funding.

5.The Board recommends that the Council reconsider the manner in which strategic thinking in financial planning is provided.

The Finance Committee has three external members who provide a valuable external perspective and specialist skills, including banking experience. A further external member, again with extensive banking experience, has been co-opted by the Committee from October 2011.

The Finance Committee set up a Financial Strategy Task Force, under the chairmanship of Ms Sherry Coutu, an external member of Council, which met over 2009–10. The group reviewed the financial approaches of the University’s international competitors and engaged specialist consultancy advice. Its detailed work was subsequently taken on by the Financial Strategy Steering Committee of the Finance Committee.

6.The Board recommends that steps be taken to reopen the Combination Room or at the very least report to the Regent House on future plans for this important asset.

The Council notes that the Combination Room has been open to current and retired members of the Regent House and visiting academics since 3 October (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 3). It was also open to all members of the Senate and their families and guests during the Chancellorship election.

7.The Board recommends that the process of streamlining the contents of the Reporter and moving control of the material away from the centre to the Faculties is very carefully monitored.

The Council notes this comment. The Registrary will review the success of this initiative at the end of the academical year.

9.The Board recommends that the Council provides an account of how the University will seek to maintain flexibility and competitiveness in recruiting from overseas in the light of UKBA restrictions.

In its Annual Report for 2010–11 the Council commented on its increasing concerns about the Home Office’s new and restrictive rules on immigration and the implications for the University’s capacity to recruit the brightest and best international academics and students. The University is making strenuous efforts to influence the development of the policy, through representations to Ministers, other politicians and senior Civil Servants as well as through consultation exercises when changes are proposed. The Council is also grateful for the work of Lord Wilson of Dinton (the Master of Emmanuel College) and Dr G. A. Reid, Head of the Intercollegiate Services Office, on addressing critical issues for the Colleges in this regard with determination and success. Some concessions have been made, for example the introduction of Tier 1 (exceptional talent) but, as should be apparent from recent events, immigration has a high profile politically which is not conducive to achieving further concessions in the short term. The Human Resources Committee is monitoring the situation closely and will consider whether central support for this area will need strengthening.

An internal review is currently being conducted to assess the level of support given to individuals submitting visa applications. It is likely that this level of support will be increased to reduce the risk of error and the consequential negative impact on the individual and the University. This could include support for an application for a visa alongside other welfare arrangements associated with moving to Cambridge, although it is important to note that the responsibility for the application remains with the individual.

10.The Board recommends that a comprehensive review of the University’s international activities be undertaken, that an international strategy be clearly articulated, and that the necessary resources be allocated, and their effectiveness monitored on a regular basis, to facilitate implementation of this strategy.

The Council agrees that a clearly articulated international strategy for the University is essential and, together with the General Board, has taken steps to improve the support provided by the central administration. During the current year the International Office has been reorganized as the International Strategy Office (with a revised remit). Dr Toby Wilkinson was appointed as Head of the Office from 1 July 2011. In October this year the General Board approved a protocol for international agreements, to ensure best practice, better co-ordination, and support of international partnership agreements across Schools, Faculties, and Departments ( – the Head of the International Strategy Office will be making presentations of the protocol to the Councils of the Schools during the Michaelmas Term 2011 and Lent Term 2012. An International Strategy Committee, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Strategy, has been established with effect from January 2012.

In September this year a consultancy project was launched to advise on concrete steps to strengthen the University’s strategic engagement with the EU; this is due to report by mid-December 2011. There has been major progress towards the delivery of draft country/regional strategies for India, China, and the EU by January 2012, and major progress towards the delivery of a draft overarching international strategy to the General Board in May 2012.

Discussion on 11 October 2011

The Council notes Mr Maclaren’s comments about the North West Cambridge project. A Notice giving information about the current status of the project was published on 26 October (Reporter, 2011–12, p. 82). As stated in that Notice, further information will be provided to the University in 2012.

Professor Evans’s comments on Statute U and the senior academic promotions procedure have been forwarded to the Human Resources Committee and the Technical Review Group on the Statutes and Ordinances.