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No 6289

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Vol cxliii No 12

pp. 212–267

Annual Report of the General Board to the Council for the academical year 2011–12

1. Introduction

1.1 The General Board present this Annual Report on their work for the academical year 2011–12.

1.2 The year under review saw the completion of major organizational tasks referred to in previous years’ reports, in particular:

(a) The follow-up actions from the review of teaching and research in the social sciences (Reporter, 6217, 2010–11, p. 600) were substantially concluded with the publication of three further Reports:

• on the introduction of new Triposes in Human, Social, and Political Sciences and in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (Reporter, 6230, 2010–11, p. 958) .

• on the constitution of a (unified) Department of Psychology (Reporter, 6271, 2011–12, p. 740); and

• on the area Centres, bringing them within the Department of Politics and International Studies (Reporter, 6251, 2011–12, p. 392).

(b) The Faculty Board of English responded positively to the recommendations of the review of the Faculty, chaired by the Provost of King’s College. Among the most significant developments, the Board approved a major reform of the English Tripos (see paragraph 3.2). In addition the Board, in consultation with the Council of the School of Arts and Humanities, approved a significant increase in the Faculty’s teaching resources, through a programme to establish new University Lectureships which, over time, should reduce the Faculty’s current over-reliance on College Teaching Officers for core teaching and examining.

(c) The Joint Report of the Council and the General Board on the governance arrangements for the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard, approved by Grace 2 of 18 July 2012, transferred responsibility for those institutions to the General Board with, it is anticipated, consequential benefits to the University’s education provision and research output as well as to the overall governance arrangements for the University Museums and Collections.

2. Academic standards and Quality Assurance and Enhancement

2.1 The Board of Graduate Studies reported to the University (Reporter, 6231, 2010–11, p. 998) on proposed changes to the arrangements for consideration of graduate matters, to: bring together cognate activities regardless of student type; streamline procedures to generate efficiencies (including saving academic staff time); and align policy and operations for all types of students to achieve greater clarity and equity of treatment.

2.2 Following approval of the Board’s Report, responsibility for matters of policy relating to Graduate Students and the qualifications for which they may be registered transferred from the Board of Graduate Studies to the General Board’s Education Committee. Implementation has enabled the Board of Graduate Studies, which had hitherto had a very heavy agenda, to give increased attention to individual student cases and operational matters. The Education Committee considers the Minutes of the Board of Graduate Studies, the Board of Examinations, the Board of Executive and Professional Education, and those of the Senior Tutors’ Standing Committee on Education. This enables the Education Committee to take a holistic approach to the University’s educational provision, irrespective of mode of study.

2.3 The new Standing Committee of the Education Committee on Equality and Diversity has taken forward recommendations of the 2010–11 Gender Working Group, and has developed a Code of Practice on reasonable adjustments to teaching and assessment for disabled students. The Code of Practice sets clear expectations that certain adjustments to teaching will be made where recommended for an individual student, and sets out a procedure for consideration of requests for alternative modes of assessment. The Board have approved the Code for implementation with effect from 2012–13:

2.4 The Teaching and Learning Support Services Steering Group made its first set of grants from the Teaching Innovation Fund for implementing innovative practice in learning and teaching provision. Eight grants were made, worth c. £120,000. The Group continued its discussion of CamTools and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) provision.

2.5 Learning and teaching reviews were undertaken of the following: the Departments of Chemistry and of Earth Sciences; the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; the Institute of Criminology; and the Language Centre. The then Department of Experimental Psychology and Department of Social and Developmental Psychology were reviewed jointly with the Review Panel also asked to consider, at the Board’s request, the question of a proposed merger of these institutions. In this connection the merger, proposed by the Board’s Report on the constitution of a Department of Psychology, was approved by Grace 4 of 18 July 2012. The Board also approved recommendations arising from their Strategic Review of the Department of Genetics. Responses to reviews of the following institutions were considered and recommendations taken forward: the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership; the Faculties of History and of Mathematics; and the Departments of Materials Science and Metallurgy, of Pathology, of Pharmacology, and of Physics.

3. Degrees, courses, and examinations

3.1 The major development was the approval, at the beginning of the academical year, of the new Triposes in Human, Social, and Political Sciences and in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences, to be offered to undergraduates from October 2013. Following approval of that Report, steps were taken both to publicize the new Triposes externally and to establish appropriate governance arrangements, as well as liaison with the Colleges.

3.2 Following the Board’s Full Review of the Faculty of English, the Education Committee approved a set of recommendations for reform of the Tripos from 2013–14. The recommendations aimed to co-ordinate College and Faculty teaching and reduce demands upon Part I students; strengthen the relationship between teaching and research; and to make more effective use of resources. Details were set out in the Board’s Notice on Regulations for Examinations (Reporter, 6276, 2011–12, p. 869).

3.3 The Board considered proposals from the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine to introduce two routes to a primary M.D. Degree: a standard route for registered Graduate Students conducting research part-time; and a route for Cambridge graduates. It was further proposed that the traditional M.D. Degree be re-named the Doctor of Medical Science to distinguish it from the primary degree. The proposals were the subject of a Report approved by the Regent House in the Michaelmas Term (Reporter, 6248, 2011–12, p. 314).

3.4 New M.Phil. courses were approved in: Astronomy; International Relations; Materials Science and Metallurgy; and in Public Policy. A new part-time M.St. course in Creative Writing was approved, and the M.St. course in Historic Environment was temporarily suspended for 2011–12. A new M.Res. course in Ultra-Precision, in collaboration with Cranfield University, was approved.

3.5 The Board approved changes to the regulations for the Ph.D. Degree to permit the submission of other work, for example musical compositions, in addition to the dissertation. Following consultation via the Schools, the Board also agreed further to amend the regulations for the degree by removing the facility for candidates to submit additional published work which is not connected with the subject of their theses.

4. External scrutiny and stakeholder engagement

4.1 The University participates in three national student surveys: the National Student Survey (NSS) for final-year undergraduates; the Postgraduate Research Students Survey (PRES); and the Postgraduate Taught Student Survey (PTES).

4.2 The response rate to the 2011 NSS was 54%, and the Board were pleased to note that the University had ranked top, at 94%, for student satisfaction amongst UK universities in the NSS. On the whole the few Departments that had received lower than average scores in the 2010 survey had improved in 2011. With modest sample sizes, it is unsurprising that data showed year-on-year fluctuations. Concern was expressed, however, that Economics had scored below average for three years in a row, and the Faculty was asked for a plan to address the issues raised in the NSS responses.

4.3 Participation in PRES 2011 was 54%, a significant increase over the previous response rate of 34%. This allowed results to be split down by institution. Some 86% of respondents said that the overall experience of their research programme met or exceeded their expectations. This figure matched that nationally and for the Russell Group, and had improved from 81% in 2009. However, the results, in particular in relation to supervision, have caused the Board of Graduate Studies to undertake work to determine what action should be taken to improve the position.

4.4 The response rate to the 2012 PTES was 48.2%, which showed a marked increase in postgraduate students’ engagement with the survey. A detailed analysis of the results will be considered by the Education Committee in the Michaelmas Term 2012.

4.5 A number of teaching programmes were subject to scrutiny by professional, statutory, and regulatory bodies. The Board received positive reports on visits by: the Architects Registration Board (ARB) for the M.Phil. in Environmental Design in Architecture (Department of Architecture), the British Computer Society and Institute of Engineering and Technology for the Computer Science Tripos; the Office for Standards in Educations (OFSTED) for the P.G.C.E. Early Years, Primary, and Secondary programmes offered by the Faculty of Education; and the Engineering Accreditation Board (EAB) for the M.Eng.

4.6 The Education Committee oversaw a significant project to collect data required by HEFCE to provide information for applicants for admission in the form of the Key Information Sets (KISs), published in September 2012 for each Tripos. These include data on teaching time and methods, and assessment; data drawn directly by HESA on student satisfaction from the University’s National Student Survey results; and employment data drawn from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (DLHE). The results can be found in the individual subject pages of the online Undergraduate Prospectus at

4.7 The Board, through their Education Committee, submitted a mid-cycle follow-up report to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) on actions taken in response to recommendations made in the Agency’s 2007 Institutional Audit, which was approved by the Agency. Representations were made by the Vice-Chancellor in response to a request by the QAA to review the University again in 2011–12; agreement was reached to defer review until the Lent Term 2013. Preparations are well underway.

4.8 The Board responded to a number of national consultations, including a HEFCE Consultation on a risk-based approach to Quality Assurance, a HEFCE/UUK/Guild HE Consultation on Public Information, and a number by the QAA as part of its on-going review of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. A response was also made to a consultation by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) on its role. Responses are published on the web at Common themes running through these responses were support for a more risk-based approach by external regulators and a reduction in the resources required in dealing with external regulatory requirements.

5. International activities

5.1 In the Michaelmas Term the Board approved a protocol to support Schools, Faculties, and Departments in initiating international partnerships, providing better co-ordination of international activities and ensuring that legal and reputational factors are incorporated. The protocol will be kept under review and amendments will be proposed following feedback from the Schools. The revised Financial Regulations were approved, requiring the written consent of the Director of Finance for any overseas activity involving either or both setting up any establishment and employing individuals overseas.

5.2 In the Lent Term 2012 the Board approved a strategy underpinning our approach to India. In May 2012 the International Strategy Office (ISO) and University Research Office (URO) established a joint Europe Working Group of EU specialists from the ISO and URO to provide analysis and internal policy recommendations for the University’s relationship with the European Union. The International Strategy Office specifically focused on interaction with the UK government and the legislative processes in Brussels to ensure the University is well positioned to contribute to the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, ‘Horizon 2020’. The ISO has supported Schools, Faculties, and Departments in hosting working visits to enable Principal Investigators to develop collaborations with the US, China, Brazil, and Africa.

5.3 A draft paper on International Engagement was received by the Board on 9 May 2012 and referred to the newly established International Strategy Committee (ISC) (a joint committee of the Council and General Board). The International Strategy Committee has launched a formal consultation incorporating the work of several key areas of the Collegiate University, including a survey of each College’s international engagement. Recommendations from the ISC collated from these core constituents will inform a revised paper to be presented initially to the General Board in 2013.

6. Research

6.1 Research income grew by 9% compared with 2010–2011, most of which is attributable to grants from the European Commission. The Research Councils and UK Charities continued to be the University’s main sponsors, generating 37% and 26% respectively of the total research income received while funds received from the European Research Council now represent 22% of this total. As noted last year, Research Council income has continued to fall, albeit marginally (2%). However, the value, based on 100% full economic costing (fEC) of applications and contracts submitted by the University to all funders increased during 2011–12 to £1.54 billion, compared to £1.26 billion in 2010–11.

6.2 The Research Policy Committee remains concerned at the University’s low overhead recovery rate, especially when compared with our major UK competitors, and it intends to address this in detail during the forthcoming year. In support of the need to keep up to date with changes to UK research funding, during 2011–12 the University engaged with eight other Russell Group members in a project to enable the exchange between them of directly comparable research management information. In parallel with this, and building on the X5 project, which facilitates the research grant application process, a joint MISD–Research Office project has begun to undertake a comprehensive update of the University’s Research Office systems and procedures.

6.3 In January 2012 the Research Services Division joined the Academic Division as part of the University Research Office. This now comprises a Research Operations Office, which has remained in Mill Lane, and a Research Strategy Office, including support for the Research Excellence Framework (REF), which is based in the Old Schools to provide enhanced support for the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research).

6.4 The 2011–12 academical year was the first in which the University was faced with the indirect costs-saving measures introduced by the Research Councils in accordance with the recommendations of the Wakeham Review (published June 2010). A further recommendation was that the Research Councils should encourage more intensive use of existing assets across the research base. Alongside this recommendation, a reduction in their budgets for capital funding led Research Councils to revise the requirements for requesting funding for equipment and facilities in grant proposals from mid-2011. In light of these changes, a project, South East England Science and Engineering Collaborative (SEESEC) was initiated by the Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Research from Imperial College, Oxford, Southampton, UCL, and Cambridge to support the sharing of research facilities across these universities with the intention of giving academic staff access to a wider pool of facilities, as well as increasing utilization of existing resources and the opportunity for new collaboration. Led by the University’s Research Office, a working group was set up in Michaelmas Term 2011 to build a database of all equipment costing over £10,000 in University of Cambridge STEM Departments, and the availability of these resources for external usage. The first phase of the project has now been completed at all the collaborating institutions, with the University launching its online record system in August 2012:

6.5 In July 2012, RCUK launched its Concordat to support Research Integrity to provide a comprehensive, but flexible, national framework for good research conduct and its governance: In addition to the Research Councils, initial signatories to the Concordat included DfEL, HEFCE, NIHR, Universities UK, and the Wellcome Trust. All HEIs are likely to become signatories since the major funding bodies have announced already that they will require this as a condition of future awards. HEFCE and the Research Councils have also announced that they will gather feedback through their existing assurance mechanisms. Additionally, every signatory will be required to produce an annual statement which must be made publicly available and which outlines actions taken to support and strengthen understanding of research integrity as well as providing both an assurance that processes for dealing with allegations of misconduct in research are transparent, robust, and fair and also a statement on any formal investigations in this area.

6.6 In view also of information on future expectations relating to Open Access received from certain Funding Councils and major charities, the Research Policy Committee (RPC) has set up a working group to consider the University’s position. The Working Group has met twice and expects to report to the RPC and also to the General Board during Michaelmas Term 2012.

6.7 University preparations for the 2014 REF have gathered momentum during 2011–12. Governance and advisory mechanisms have been set up, headed by the REF Policy Committee, comprising the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), the Heads of Schools, and the Head of the Research Office. This is underpinned by supporting committees established to gather advice and guidance from across the University as well as from colleagues with HEFCE REF Panel duties. The task of compiling staff data and accompanying research outputs in the appropriate format has been simplified considerably from previous Research Assessment Exercises by the introduction of a computer system which collects most of the publications information required, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and medical disciplines where electronic publications have become the norm. To date, most University Units of Assessment (UoA) Committees appear to be making good progress against the University’s REF timetable, using the above system to score research outputs and to record salient information. Meanwhile, the University’s REF Equality Code of Practice was one of a very small number approved by HEFCE’s Equality Committee at the first pass while REF work undertaken to date has also been approved by the University’s own Equality Assurance Committee.

6.8 As anticipated in last year’s Report, the major area of concern to UoA Committees is the compilation of impact case studies together with additional information on eligible types of impact, which was released by HEFCE in February 2012. Since April 2012, there has been constant interaction between the University’s central REF team, UoA Chairs and the researchers concerned since working up case studies usually involves several iterations. It also frequently necessitates obtaining substantive evidence, usually from external sources, to support claims for excellence of the research impact. Valuable input is also provided by Cambridge Enterprise and the Office of External Affairs and Communications, and this will become of increasing importance as case studies are finalized in readiness for inclusion in the University submission to be made in November 2013.

7. Finance and planning

7.1 The Board welcomes the signs of improvement in the financial position set out in the 2012 Budget Report, whereby the cumulative Chest deficit predicted for the period 2009–10 to 2015–16 reduced from £36m to £23m, and with a return to surplus expected in 2014–15 – one year ahead of schedule. The Board are grateful to the Councils of the Schools and institutions for exercising prudent financial management within the guidelines set by the Planning and Resources Committee.

7.2 This year was the first in which undergraduate applications were received in the new fee environment, and the impact of these and new HEFCE student number controls were the subject of intense media coverage. Whilst UCAS recorded a national decline in students applying and ultimately being accepted by the HE sector, applications to Cambridge remained steady and initial data suggests that significant progress will have been made against targets, including those for expenditure on bursaries, fee-waivers, and widening participation, agreed with OFFA. The knock-on effects for postgraduate recruitment remain a matter of concern. The capped fee for Home/EU students is the only regulated fee; the announcement that the maximum would not be increased in 2013 will have an adverse financial impact. The Planning and Resources Committee has continued to evolve policy for all other unregulated fees, abolishing the separate Island rate for new admissions from 2013. Responding to comments that the general rate of increase of overseas fees caused problems for continuing students, overseas fees now depend on year of entry. The PRC has further modified this so that the fee for overseas Ph.D. students admitted in 2013 will be fixed at the same cash value for each of the three years of their course. This is intended to provide much greater certainty of future costs under the ‘fee for the course’ policy for research students. The policy is less easy to introduce where courses are longer or where fees are set with reference to annual announcements of the maximum that sponsors will pay, but the position will be kept under review.

7.3 A Working Group on Student Numbers, set up jointly with the Colleges, reported and the Group’s recommendations were the subject of wider consultation. Postgraduate student numbers will be allowed to increase at 2% a year, with a review in 2015; undergraduate numbers will be maintained at the current level.

8. Establishment of new senior positions

8.1 As the result of generous benefactions, the Board proposed the establishment of a Chong Hua Professorship of Chinese Development in the Department of Politics and International Studies and a Florence Nightingale Foundation Professorship of Clinical Nursing Research in the Department of Medicine.

8.2 With the support of the Medical Research Council, the Board proposed the establishment of MRC Research Professorships of Biostatistics and of Mitochondrial Medicine.

8.3 The following Professorships were established, or re-established, supported on general University funds by the reallocation of recurrent funding within the Schools concerned:

• Professorship of Statistics in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics;

• Professorship of Sustainable Reaction Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology;

• Professorship of General Practice in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care.

8.4 The Board proposed the establishment of the following (proleptic) Professorships to enhance the University’s submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014:

• Professorship of Politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies;

• Professorship of Information Engineering in the Department of Engineering;

• Professorship of Genetics in the Department of Genetics.

9. Human Resources

9.1 The Human Resources Committee reports jointly to the Council and the General Board. The major items of business considered by the Board were as follows:

9.2 In response to the government’s announcement of the abolition of the national retirement age with effect from 6 April 2011, the Human Resources Committee finalized a Report for Council and the General Board. A Discussion was followed by a vote, in which the proposal for an Employer Justified Retirement Age for established Officers only (at age 67) was accepted. A new Retirement Policy has now been implemented.

9.3 The University and Assistants’ Joint Board (UAJB) on 8 May 2012 approved the recommendations arising from the Special Joint Negotiating Committee on revisions to the Cambridge University Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS). This followed the formal staff consultation which took place between 5 August 2011 and 11 November 2011. The CPS Trustees were also consulted in parallel. The final revisions were endorsed by the Board (and subsequently the Council and the Regent House, following approval of Grace 1 of 24 October 2012).

9.4 The Human Resources Committee consulted widely to develop equality objectives, a requirement of the Equality Act 2010. These reflected priority areas that will be progressed over the next four years, including seeking to improve the University’s gender balance at senior levels of the organization, and continuing to provide an inclusive environment for work and study. The draft objectives were published in April 2012 and formally adopted in July. In addition, the University’s Combined Equality Scheme was updated in January 2012 to reflect the Equality Act. It emphasizes the University’s commitment to fair and equal treatment for all legally protected groups.

9.5 The Board considered and approved the proposed revisions to the Statute U, Grievance Procedure, subject to further work also being carried out on the Disciplinary Procedure. Following Discussion in the Regent House an amended Grace was approved on 27 July 2012.

9.6 The Board had previously set up a Working Group to review the Senior Academic Promotion process. A number of minor changes, recommended by the Group, were implemented for the 2012 Senior Academic Promotions exercise. During the course of this year a revised scoring methodology was approved for implementation in the 2013 round together with some modifications to the arrangements for Faculty Promotions Committees, which were the subject of a Report (Reporter, 6266, 2011–12, p. 606).

9.7 The Human Resources Committee set up a sub-committee, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Institutional Affairs), to review aspects of Pay and Reward since the adoption of the current pay and reward provisions and the single salary spine in 2006. There have, in the intervening period, been significant changes in the external market employment conditions for both academic and academic-related staff which are impacting on the University’s capacity to recruit and retain senior staff. The sub-committee concluded its work in the summer and its proposals will be the subject of consultation in the University in the Michaelmas Term 2012.

9.8 In addition, the Human Resources Committee has continued to update its policies, for example the draft probation policy, and work has commenced to review the disciplinary procedures for unestablished staff and changes have been made to the arrangements for paying and issuing agreements to casual workers.

9.9 The Board congratulated twenty-two academic staff who were elected to Fellowships of the British Academy (four), the Royal Society (six), the Academy of Medical Sciences (seven), and the Royal Academy of Engineering (five).

10. Health and safety

10.1 The established and embedded management systems for health and safety in the University, overseen by the Health and Safety Executive Committee, have continued to provide a well regulated environment in support of the core activities of teaching and research together with oversight of the broader scope of all University operations. This is achieved by a commitment at the highest level of University governance to the support of those parts of the UAS involved in health and safety management, senior management membership, and attendance at both the Consultative Committee for Safety (CCFS) and Health and Safety Executive Committee (HSEC) and sub-committees, combined with the positive, proactive stance taken by Departments in managing the safety of their staff, students, and buildings with the support of the Occupational Health and Safety Service (OHSS) and Estate Management (EM).

10.2 Heads of Departments are made aware of their responsibility for ensuring effective health and safety management together with updates in policy and legislation through yearly briefing sessions, targeted letters and email communications, and one-to-one meetings with the Director of Health and Safety when necessary. The University continues to assure itself of the effectiveness of these management systems through its auditing programme, which covers general safety audits and ‘subject-specific’ audits for radioactivity, lasers, chemicals, hazardous waste management, biological agents, laboratory security, and fire risk assessment. Summaries of the outcomes of these audits are presented to HSEC for members to consider further actions by Departments should they feel that issues have not been resolved adequately in the first instance.

10.3 Certain aspects of safety management within the UAS have been restructured, including the incorporation of fire safety training and auditing into the OHSS, the outsourcing of food safety inspection and audit linked to a central purchasing agreement with approved caterers, and the relocation of the Occupational Health Service adjacent to the Safety Office at a central site offering improved access for all staff and students.

10.4 The Executive Committee continues to monitor the changes in UK health and safety regulation in response to the recent government reviews to ensure that our policies and procedures effectively manage health and safety risk without unnecessary restriction or overly bureaucratic systems.

28 November 2012

L. K. Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor

Martin Daunton

Patrick Maxwell

Philip Allmendinger

Simon Franklin

Sadie Jarrett

N. Bampos

C. A. Gilligan

Rachael Padman

H. A. Chase

David Good

John Rallison

Sarah Coakley

Robert Kennicutt

Amanda Talhat