Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6432

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Vol cxlvi No 37

pp. 709–747



5 July, Tuesday. Discussion of the Regent House at 2 p.m. (see below).

15 July, Friday. Congregation of the Regent House at 10 a.m.

16 July, Saturday. Congregation of the Regent House at 10 a.m.

1 October, Saturday. Michaelmas Term begins. Congregation of the Regent House at 9.30 a.m.: Vice-Chancellor’s Address, and election and admission of the Proctors.

4 October, Tuesday. Full Term begins.

Ordinary issues of the Reporter for the remainder of the 2015–16 academical year will be published on 13 July and 27 July 2016. The first issue of the 2016–17 academical year will be published on 28 September 2016.

Notice of a Discussion on Tuesday, 5 July 2016

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, 5 July 2016, at 2 p.m. for the discussion of:

1. Report of the General Board, dated 1 June 2016, on Senior Academic Promotions (Reporter, 6429, 2015–16, p. 628).

2. Report of the Council, dated 13 June 2016, on a University Statement on Freedom of Speech and the Code of Practice issued under section 43 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986 (Reporter, 6430, 2015–16, p. 640).

3. First-stage Report of the Council, dated 13 June 2016, on the construction of a new building for the Department of Engineering in West Cambridge (Reporter, 6430, 2015–16, p. 643).

4. First-stage Report of the Council, dated 22 June 2016, on the construction of an off-site storage facility for low-use library material (Reporter, 6431, 2015–16, p. 696).

Report of the Council on the financial position and budget of the University, recommending allocations from the Chest for 2016–17: Notice in response to Discussion remarks

The Council has received the remarks made at the Discussion on 7 June 2016 (Reporter, 6430, 2015–16, p. 647) on the above Report (Reporter, 6426, 2015–16, p. 525).

Professor Evans and Dr Cowley refer to the absence, in the Report, of comments on the North West Cambridge project. This is a ring-fenced project under the management, development, and stewardship of the West and North West Cambridge Estates Syndicate, and does not fall under the Allocations process, which is the focus of this Report. The reports of the North West Cambridge Audit Group have laid out the position of the North West Cambridge investment and governance in detail.1 The Net Present Value of the programme is estimated to be approximately £100m which represents a good financial return on a strategic investment in the future of the University and of its staff.

Dr Cowley has drawn attention to expenditure on the estate at a time when pay awards have been held down. University salaries are aligned to the nationally agreed single pay spine and the annual pay review is the outcome of negotiations at national level. There is, therefore, limited scope to change salary structures. In addition substantial increases in pay carry a significant recurrent financial impact. Staff costs are in the order of £500m per annum. For each percentage increase across the board, the University would need to find an additional £5m recurrently. In contrast, expenditure on capital projects represents non-recurrent investment that is essential if the University is to continue to operate at the highest level, and especially if it is to attract and retain the best academics and students. Failure to rebuild and refresh those parts of the estate that are ageing, over-populated and no longer fit for purpose risks a decline that will have major impact on the quality of the University’s research and teaching, and a fall in its long-standing and hard-won reputation. University-funded capital expenditure will be supplemented by external funding such as grants from government and philanthropic gifts.

Dr Cowley makes reference to cost control. Maintaining financial restraint is and will continue to be a core principle of the University’s ongoing financial strategy, as stated clearly more than once in the Report. Cost control and financial restraint are centrally important to managing the University’s financial position. However, constraining expenditure is not, in isolation, the only solution to achieving greater financial sustainability, and continued cuts put core services at risk. As emphasized in the Report, the University must find ways of enhancing its income streams in addition to maintaining its focus on financial restraint in spending and on achieving value for money. This is particularly important at a time of continued change and upheaval in the external environment, and may necessitate internal changes to the way in which the University operates its planning processes, and manages and allocates its resources. These changes will include making more transparent the balance of expenditure between academic activities and administrative services, a detail on which Dr Cowley seeks clarity, especially in the context of Appendix 4 of the Report. A significant proportion of expenditure on ‘other institutions’ in Appendix 4 represents investment in services, such as CUDAR and the High Performance Computing Facility, that will either generate income for, or be in direct support of, academic activity. The extent to which our expenditure on administrative services across the University (and not just in the UAS) is too big or too small will be informed by the benchmarking process currently underway.

The Council is submitting a Grace (Grace 1, p. 722) for the approval of the recommendations of this Report.