Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6512

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Vol cxlviii No 36

pp. 726–756

Report of Discussion: Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

A Discussion was held in Room 10 of the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dame Fiona Reynolds was presiding, with the Registrary’s deputy, the Deputy Senior Proctor, the Deputy Junior Proctor, and nine other persons present.

The following Reports were discussed:

Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 4 June 2018 and 6 June 2018, on the governance of examinations and assessment

(Reporter, 6509, 2017–18, p. 672).

No remarks were made on this Report.

Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 22 May 2018 and 6 June 2018, on Professorships established for a fixed term

(Reporter, 6509, 2017–18, p. 678).

Professor G. R. Evans (Emeritus Professor of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History), read by the Deputy Senior Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, what exactly is proposed? First a change of wording in Special Ordinance C (vii) A. 6 from the present ‘shall be for a fixed term’ to ‘shall be for a prescribed term of years or until a prescribed date’.

Then a purpose is indicated:

to enable coterminous appointments to be made in circumstances where it is appropriate for the holding of a Professorship to be contingent on the holding of another specified role.

There appears to be one example already in the Ordinances:

The Professorship of History and Philosophy of Science shall be limited to one tenure which shall be coterminous with the holding of the office of Curator and Director of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science.1

Please will the Council and the General Board explain in their reply why a more wide-ranging Grace is needed now and give a fuller explanation of the uses to which this provision for the holding of two appointments at once is intended to be put?

Joint Report of the Council and the General Board, dated 4 June 2018 and 6 June 2018, on the establishment of an Education Division, Research Division, and Strategic Partnerships Division

(Reporter, 6509, 2017–18, p. 679).

Mr G. P. Allen (Wolfson College and formerly Academic Secretary):

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, while I welcome the decision to refill the office of Academic Secretary after a lengthy period of uncertainty, I regret to say that I find little else to commend in this Report. First, the Report proposes the creation of three new Administrative Divisions on the basis of the growth in the volume of operational activity – admissions, research grant funding, student complaints, etc. – without any consideration of the consequences for governance or indeed for the concept of a Unified Administrative Service (UAS). This proposed fragmentation of the administration of the University’s academic activities, creating a number of additional hurdles for members of the University to navigate, risks further exacerbating the frequent criticism of the UAS as ‘siloed’ and indeed undermining the concept of the UAS as an organization intended to provide integrated and efficient administrative support for teaching and research. What assurance can the Council offer to allay these concerns?

Second, the Report then proposes a new role for the Academic Secretary as a head of School and Faculty administration but also with responsibility, as the principal civil servant for the newly appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Planning, for ‘providing support for academic strategy and planning across the University’. Such responsibilities are not incompatible with the role of Academic Secretary as originally established and have arguably been neglected over the last two or three years. However, I have serious concerns how this new Academic Secretary, shorn of responsibilities for the University’s core activities of education and research, as well as most of their current staff, budget, and authority, will be able to operate effectively in relation to either academic strategy or planning. The Secretaries of the Schools and Faculty and Departmental administrative staff (not all of whom are part of the UAS) are busy with their day jobs and in any case the budgets for those positions are under the control of the respective School. The specialist staff of the former Planning and Resource Allocation Office (PRAO), as remarked in the Note of Dissent, are now part of the Finance Division and under the direction of the Director of Finance. Unless these disjunctions are addressed at the outset I fear that the new style Academic Secretary will have a frustrating time discharging what the Report describes as co-ordinating and cross-cutting responsibilities. He or she will endlessly have to negotiate resource priorities with his or her fellow Directors, or ultimately the University will be faced with requests for new posts to create a team, with responsibilities overlapping the new Divisions, to support the Academic Secretary in this important role. Can the Council also clarify the intention (paragraph 4) to review other duties attached to the role of Academic Secretary – shouldn’t the Regent House be informed e.g., whether the Academic Secretary will continue to be designated as Secretary of the General Board?

The Report’s recommendations also include the establishment of a Strategic Partnerships Division but nowhere in the Report is there a case for this development or a description of the role of the proposed Division. Can the Council and the General Board make good that deficiency for the information of the University?

As mentioned in the Note of Dissent, the Report makes a rather curious argument that the current divisional structure disadvantages education and research when it comes to the determination of resource priorities in the UAS for the Planning Round because those areas lack an advocate at Director level. As Academic Secretary I never felt at such a disadvantage in making the case for resources in any area, whether Counselling or research grants administration, and in any case, surely it is the responsibility of the Registrary as Head of Department to see fair play? Do the Council really believe that the Director of the Strategic Partnerships Division (with, according to its website, less than ten staff), if established, will have the same clout as the Directors of Finance and Estates, who will become the big beasts of this new administrative organization?

Finally, paragraph 5 of the Report includes the statement that the Director(s) of the Research Division and the Strategic Partnerships Division are ‘already in place’. How can that be, since it is only by the approval of this Report that the Divisions and the Directorships of them can exist? I assume that what the Council mean is that the current holders of specified posts will be translated to the new offices, if established. Can the Council clarify that proposal and the mechanism for implementing it?

Mr D. J. Goode (Faculty of Divinity and Wolfson College):

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I speak today in a personal capacity.

This Report recommends a significant restructuring of the University Offices in general, and of the Academic Division, and the role of the Academic Secretary, in particular. This is not routine business; this is important stuff. Let us recall the usual passage through our governance process of a Report to the Regent House. A Report is published to the Regent House, and a Discussion is scheduled for members of the Senate, and other qualified persons, to contribute their remarks. The appropriate authority then considers the remarks made at the Discussion, and the Council either publishes a second Report in light of those remarks for further Discussion, or a Grace to propose acceptance of the initial Report.

This Report was published to the Regent House on Wednesday, 6 June 2018, and scheduled for Discussion today, Tuesday, 19 June 2018, a time when many are preoccupied with examining and marking and preparing for General Admission. Full Easter Term ended on Friday, 15 June 2018, and the Easter Term ends next week, on Monday, 25 June 2018. The Report recommends an implementation date of Wednesday, 1 August 2018.

Thus, every stage of this process other than the initial publication of the Report has been scheduled to take place outside Full Term, or during the Long Vacation.

If a Grace to accept this Report, along with the remarks made today, is published in next week’s Reporter, on Wednesday, 27 June 2018, and assuming there is no amendment or request for a ballot, the Grace will be deemed to have been approved on Friday, 6 July 2018.

But that timetable does not allow for any sort of meaningful consideration by the ‘appropriate authority’ of the remarks made today.

Presumably the appropriate authority in this case is actually two authorities, the University Council and the General Board of the Faculties, which next meet on Monday, 16 July 2018 and Wednesday, 11 July 2018 respectively.

If the Council and the General Board consider the remarks at their next meetings, a second Report, or the Grace to propose acceptance of this Report, could be published in the Reporter at the very earliest on Wednesday, 18 July 2018, and, if an amendment is not tabled or a ballot

is not requested by the Regent House, would be deemed to have been accepted on Friday, 27 July 2018, with an implementation date three working days later, on the following Wednesday.

It seems to me that this Report, recommending a significant restructuring, is being rushed through the Regent House outside Full Term and during the Long Vacation according to a timetable which leaves little or no time for anything like a meaningful consideration of the remarks made on it, as a fait accompli, with our governance process reduced to a hurried box-ticking exercise. This is not acceptable.

Dr S. J. Cowley (University Council and Faculty of Mathematics):

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am a member of the Council, but I speak in a personal capacity. My wife is an academic-related Officer but not part of the UAS.

I drafted a Note of Dissent to this Report, and I was one of three who signed that Note. I observe that only fourteen of the 24 members of the Council signed the Report.

The Academic Division, and its predecessor, has been central to the functioning of the University over many years, both in its current form, and formerly when it was lead by the Secretary General. Cambridge tends to be resistant to change, with the danger of atrophying. However, if it’s not broken then do not fix it. Aspects of the Academic Division are under stress, and one might argue that a fix is necessary. However, should the fix be a leap into a somewhat unknown world by means of an outline plan, or should it be acknowledged that some of the recent changes have not been optimal?

At the HR Committee last Thursday when discussing the Review of the Role of Head of Institution, one of the recommendations was:

Ask HoIs if they would like a personal contact in the central administration (previously this was the Academic Secretary).

Surely the answer is self-evident. The Academic Secretary used to be one of the lynch pins in the communication between the Central Bodies and the departments and other institutions, but no more. One of the findings concerning the Heads of Institutions (HoIs) was that there ‘is a lack of clarity (from Schools and the Centre) on important decisions taken at University level’. Communication may never have been outstanding, but the Academic Secretary played an important role, and that role works best when the Academic Secretary has a holistic view of the University.

As observed in the Note of Dissent, institutions in the University are either under the supervision of the Council or the General Board; as such University governance has a bicameral nature. Traditionally the Academic Secretary has been Secretary of the General Board and, more importantly, like the Registrary, has been one of the administrative officers in the University with a broad and comprehensive understanding of the University. I observed that this arrangement, with both the Registrary and the Academic Secretary having the right to attend key committees, worked well during my previous eight-year term on the Council. Whilst the arrangement might suggest an element of duplication, when both posts were filled it meant that an administrative officer with a holistic view of the University was present at key meetings. The proposed role of Academic Secretary is, as far as I can tell, different, but it is difficult to tell because few details were included in the Report.

Now that the job description of the Interim Academic Secretary has been published matters are clearer, but possibly only slightly so. I quote:

The Interim Academic Secretary will lead on the provision of support for academic strategy and planning in order to strengthen and enhance the support for cross School and NSI activity (including interdisciplinary initiatives)

That looks very similar to the head of the old Planning and Resource Allocation Office (PRAO), which worked well. However, the PRAO was moved to the Finance Division, and it was recently reported to the Council that ‘many have commented that, in their view, the academic planning function has been diminished rather than enhanced’ by the move. The Report states that there is a need to ‘rebalance the emphasis of that team onto academic objectives’, but there is no suggestion in the Report, or in the job description, of reversing the move of the PRAO. Is this to happen? If not, by what means, or with what tools, is this rebalancing to take place? How will the new Academic Secretary lead without appropriate resource?

Further, it is stated that the Academic Secretary will, inter alia, be:

... directly responsible for the community of administrators in the Schools, Faculties, and Departments. Ensure close integration of School, Departmental, and Faculty activity, interweave these effectively with the rest of the UAS, NSIs, and Colleges.

Responsible for ensuring administration in Schools, Departments, and Faculties is efficient, effective, and consistent. Work with colleagues to redesign processes where necessary, to restructure parts of the administration where necessary, and to embed concept of continuous improvement to ensure administrative processes remain effective. Develop and lead a range of internal networks to promote the development and sharing of knowledge and practice across the administration of the University.

Yes, there is an important need for communication and following best practice throughout the University, but this has the feeling of a very top-down method of management. Also, what about the Faculties and Departments with staff not in the UAS? Is it appropriate for the Academic Secretary to be responsible for staff that do not report to her or him? Are the HoIs content with this change? There are now more details than in the Report, but fine words like

lead on a range of networks across the collegiate University to provide greater coherence in the University’s strategy and planning and more scope for interdisciplinary activity,

if they have substance, muddle the roles of the Pro-Vice-Chancellors (PVCs) and the Academic Secretary.

As to the wider re-organization, how will creating separate Research and Education Divisions lead to more effective leadership, collaboration, and communication across the whole administration in support of teaching and research? What is an Academic Division without teaching and research? What exactly is the remaining Academic Division? How many staff will there be and where will they be located? Are there any staff left in what was the Academic Secretary’s section, or will the section need to be reconstituted?

I believe that a significant amount of administration in support of education and research takes place in the academic departments. I presume that evidence for this is in the Uniforum data that has been collected over two years, but has so far not been published, or even provided to members of the Council. Hence a natural question is how will the proposals affect the Academic Division staff who are based in academic departments? Do they stay in the Academic Division or are they reassigned to the Research or Education Division depending on their role? If the latter, how is the Academic Secretary ‘directly responsible for the community of administrators’; if the former, is this not a pig’s breakfast? And on a practical point, have staff have been consulted on what might be perceived as a contractual change?

Research services were initially outside the Academic Division, then in it (e.g. see the 2004 Review of the Research Services Division)1 and are now to be outside of it again. Why should the reversion work, when a separate Division did not before? I have possibly a rather naïve view of management/leadership, in that surely the personnel are as important as structures. Indeed, that point was made to me by a senior member of the Old Schools in the last fortnight. Does the University really need another re-organization (cf. the NHS)? I am not convinced that the growth in student numbers and research income is a rationale for splitting the Academic Division, and it will mean that the Academic Secretary is less likely to have a holistic view of the University and so hinder her/his roles as Secretary of the General Board and source of advice to HoIs.

Further, it is claimed that the proposals are resource-neutral. However, very significant additional resources, of the order of £4–5m, have been attributed via the last two planning rounds to support the UAS. Yet, one of the arguments for the creation of the two new Divisions is that:

submissions for resource to support the two core areas of the University’s activity first have to be judged against one another before the collated bid is assessed against other needs within the UAS.

Is this an argument that £4–5m is not enough?

An old definition of an engineer was someone who could do for half-a-crown what any fool could do for £1. I could probably run the UAS if money was no object (although some in the Centre for Mathematical Sciences might be rolling around in laughter at the moment). Leaks of the Uniforum data suggest that, except for Research Services, administration is sufficiently funded. If the leak is wrong, then please can the Uniforum data be published. From the data that is publicly available, administrative posts in the UAS and the Vice-Chancellor’s Office have risen from 283 in 2012 to 474 in 2018. With a 67% increase, submissions for increased resource within the UAS have already been very successful. Given this, would it not be appropriate for the information of staff numbers and resource distribution across the UAS to be audited before the UAS is reorganized?

The formerly effective Academic Division is no longer in rude health; indeed, one administrator has gone so far as to describe it to me as dysfunctional (although I think that is too strong). The University has tried to run without a full-time Academic Secretary for the best part of two years; it has not worked. The University needs an Academic Secretary (or possibly even a Secretary General) of the old school, not a shadow of the role.


Ms E. M. C. Rampton (Registrary), read by the Deputy Senior Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am writing as Registrary and as the most recent Academic Secretary to explain some of the misunderstandings that appear, from the Note of Dissent, to have arisen in relation to the Joint Report on the establishment of an Education Division, Research Division, and Strategic Partnerships Division.

The Note of Dissent makes a number of points in relation to which I would like to offer an alternative view. First, however, it is worth reiterating that the purpose of the reconfiguration of the Academic Division is to strengthen the support provided to the University’s academic community in the core areas of education, research, and strategic partnerships. For the first time, these operational areas – which are critical to the support of the University’s two principal activities, education and research – would become equal in standing to other operational areas, such as finance and estates. Allied to this, each Pro-Vice-Chancellor would as a consequence have one senior administrative lead supporting her or his portfolio(s).

I now turn to address specific points made in the Note. It is suggested that the role of the Academic Secretary is being ‘diluted’. The intention is the opposite. It is to concentrate the role of the Academic Secretary on bridging the gap between the administrative services provided in the UAS and those delivered at School, departmental, and Faculty level. If the University is to have a truly ‘unified’ administration, this change needs to happen. The shift in focus of the Academic Secretary is also a reflection of the evolution of the University. As the University has grown in size and complexity, it has recognized that it needs different officers to support it. We now, for example, have a Chief Financial Officer and will soon be joined by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Planning. The Academic Secretary will assist both these individuals, in particular the latter, with an initial focus on ensuring that the University’s planning processes are fit for purpose and on starting to articulate more strongly our common purpose. I also note that the Academic Secretary will continue to be Secretary to the General Board – there will be no change to that practice and therefore no ‘dilution’ of the bicameral structure of the University.

Secondly, it is suggested that it is beneficial to have both the Registrary and the Academic Secretary at the University’s many committee meetings. I agree that it is important that more than one person has an overview of the University’s activity. However, that does not have to be achieved by having both these officers attend the same committee meetings. Further, when resources are constrained, we do not have the luxury of being able to attend all committee meetings. Instead, there are other, more efficient ways of achieving a shared overview, including effective communication between those who attend the meetings and those who do not. In addition, as previously mentioned, we now have new officeholders among whom these responsibilities can be distributed.

Thirdly, there is implied criticism of our colleagues in the Academic and Financial Planning and Analysis (AFPA) function. I reject this entirely. The individuals within that office are highly committed and include some of the most talented individuals in our professional services. When one office is absorbed into another, as PRAO was absorbed into the Finance Division, it is to be expected that perfect balance will not be achieved from the outset. However, the need for a stronger academic voice within AFPA has been recognized and the evolution of the Academic Secretary is one of the steps we are taking to achieve it. There is no intention of going back to the previous position.

Fourthly, it is asserted that, within the UAS and the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, there has been a growth in academic-related administrative staff from 283 in 2012 to 474 in 2018, or 67%. These figures are taken from the latest Budget Report. However, the figures are not like for like as they include the transfer of institutions and divisions into the UAS (as noted in the Budget Report). The like for like figures show a growth in this category of staff over the same period of 315 to 477, or 51%. This is lower than the growth rate of these staff across the institution – 78% – and significantly lower than the growth in these staff in Schools and Academic Institutions – 111% over the same period.

Fifthly, I would like to correct the statement that the request for funding for a head of the Education portfolio was a ‘pre-emptive funding’ for the Director of Education and the implication, therefore, that the reconfiguration of the Academic Division had been taken for granted. This was not the case. This bid for funding was submitted in recognition of the need for a head – Director or otherwise – to bring together the many strands of one of the University’s largest areas of activity, Education.

Sixthly, a Notice, rather than a Report, is all that is required to make this change as the Divisions of the UAS are set out in Ordinance. It was at the request of one of the signatories to the Note of Dissent that the Council agreed to put a Report to the Regent House.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that the Joint Report is about the establishment of the Divisions. It is not about the role of the Academic Secretary. The proposal for the change in the role of the Academic Secretary was endorsed by the General Board at its meeting on 14 February 2018 and by the Council at its meeting on 19 March 2018.1

I fully commend the proposals to establish the three new Divisions as being a necessary structural change to ensure that the University’s professional services can best support our academic activity.

Professor P. M. Allmendinger (Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Clare College), read by the Deputy Senior Proctor:

As Chair of the UAS Planning Round for a number of years I fully supported the proposed establishment of three divisions of Education, Research, and Strategic Partnerships. With the growing workload and complexity in these areas it has become increasingly important that each has its own voice as part of the planning process to better reflect needs, targeting necessary investment with greater transparency and effectiveness. As a Head of School I was fully involved and in favour of the development of the proposals which I felt were overdue and absolutely necessary to help support these three growing areas of our activities. Having three Heads will also allow much closer management and overview of the work of the Divisions whilst providing greater opportunities for co-ordination within the UAS. Finally, the new structure better aligns administrative support to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor portfolio which has to be a welcome improvement to the current situation.

These are sensible and evolutionary changes that seek to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the administrative support. The proposals have been discussed and debated at length in various arenas and enjoy wide support.

Professor A. D. Neely (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations), read by the Deputy Senior Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the proposed establishment of three new Divisions – the Research Division, the Education Division, and the Strategic Partnerships Office – has my full and unreserved support as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Business Relations. These proposals have been discussed and carefully developed by the Registrary, in full consultation with the Pro-Vice-Chancellors and the Heads of Schools. They have been reviewed by General Board and have the support of the vast majority of Council members.

As the Joint Report of the Council and the General Board makes clear, there has been significant growth in the University in recent years. Research income has increased by 52% since 2011–12 and the number of research contracts has grown by 83%. Undergraduate applications have increased by 10% since 2015 and postgraduate by 32% in the same period. This growth, coupled with increased complexity of the University’s activities, mean that the University should review its administrative structures and ensure they are fit for purpose. The proposed structure, which is resource neutral, means that all Pro-Vice-Chancellors will have a principal senior administrator to work closely with. This is essential if the Pro-Vice-Chancellors are to continue to deal effectively with the wide range of issues they have to tackle.

The published Note of Dissent suggests that the proposed change of structure diminishes the role of Academic Secretary, partly by eliminating duplication of effort. A counter-argument is that we cannot afford duplication of effort within the University. Clearly, more transparent structures, with clear lines of accountability, are likely to result in better and more efficient service and support structures. Organizations cannot remain static. They have to evolve as the environment they operate in evolves and these proposals are a necessary and highly appropriate change.

Professor G. J. Virgo (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education), read by the Deputy Senior Proctor:

I have been Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education for nearly four years. Even during this relatively short period the demands placed on the Education section (including Education and Student Policy, the Student Registry, undergraduate and postgraduate admissions, the University Counselling Service, and the Disability Resource Centre) have increased dramatically. This is in part because of increased external regulation, through the Office for Students and the Teaching Excellence Framework, and political and media interest in access to and participation in education at Cambridge. Further, it is because of the need for the University to respond to pressures on students, whether it be through the Breaking the Silence campaign or the crisis in mental health and wellbeing. But there are additional pressures arising from the effective implementation of new academic programmes or strategies, such as the postgraduate recruitment strategy, and the need to ensure that our educational provision remains world class, whether it be through curriculum, assessment and Tripos reform, development of a digital education strategy, or fundraising for student support.

Even four years ago this was too much activity over which the Academic Secretary could have administrative responsibility, regardless of their administrative oversight of research and international engagement (to name but two) as well. This is why I have strongly supported the revisioning of the role of Academic Secretary and of the creation of three new Divisions from the Academic Division. These are forward-looking changes which will ensure that the academic administration is even more efficient, effective, and responsive. The consequent identification of principal senior administrators within each of the new Divisions will ensure that each Pro-Vice-Chancellor has a dedicated senior administrator with whom they can work closely to develop and implement the academic strategy within their portfolio. The revisioned role of the Academic Secretary will also be of particular benefit to my Pro-Vice-Chancellor role in helping to bridge the administrative gap which sometimes exists between Schools, Departments, and Faculties and the rest of the collegiate University.

This reform is urgently needed and I have confidence that this new structure will operate for the benefit of the collegiate University. Consequently, I commend the Joint Report on the establishment of an Education Division, Research Division, and Strategic Partnerships Division to the Regent House.

Professor D. J. Maskell (Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources):

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Academic Division, as currently formed, is responsible, among other matters, for central administrative tasks concerning Education, Research, and Strategic Partnerships. As clearly set out in this Report the administrative loads associated with Education and Research have grown dramatically, and this will only increase as the Office for Students and other regulatory bodies find their feet (or should I say teeth?). The University must remain on top of these tasks and must respond promptly, and to the highest professional standards, to these new challenges. The proposed restructure makes perfect sense and is long overdue. It must also be the first step in a broader overhaul of structures to make our administration more efficient in terms of the mechanics of dealing with matters at hand, as well as in financial terms.

In addition, for the last three years, while I have been Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor, it has been clear that the administrative structure does not lend itself to giving clear lines of support to the PVC team. Excellent administrative support is provided but the structure tends more often than not to confuse the issue rather than streamline matters. These proposals, if enacted, will clarify the administrative support for the PVCs, as well as many others in the University charged with ensuring that this complex University runs smoothly and fulfils its statutory obligations.

There is a Note of Dissent upon which I would like to comment. First, there are points raised about the revised role of the Academic Secretary. These changes have already been endorsed at General Board and Council; this Report is not about that matter. It is surprising that members of Council should be trying to revisit it here. Second, statistics concerning increases in staff in the UAS are inaccurately represented or perhaps misunderstood. The Budget Report explains that the increases in Full-Time equivalents (FTEs) are not like-for-like in that FTEs are being transferred into UAS from other parts of the organization. When this is taken into account, the rate of growth of UAS FTEs over the period 2011–17 is similar to the rate of growth of the income of the University over the same period, which might be taken loosely as a proxy for the size of the University. At the same time the range of administrative tasks imposed externally and the complexity of the University have increased considerably. The point made in the Note of Dissent is therefore spurious. The fact of the matter is that the increased size and complexity of the University are precisely the drivers for the kind of necessary change described in this Report. Finally, the authors quote someone reporting to Council that ‘many have commented that, in their view, the academic planning function has been diminished rather than enhanced’ by the move of the Planning and Resource Allocation Office (PRAO) into Finance Division to form Academic and Financial Planning and Analysis (AFPA). Setting aside trying to define what is meant by ‘many’ in this context (two or three people, twenty, half the Regent House?), as the person considered to be responsible for Planning in the University, I can assure the Regent House that academic matters remain absolutely central to the planning process. Furthermore, the people working in AFPA are as outstandingly good at their jobs as they were when they were in PRAO and any suggestion to the contrary is not justified.

I am strongly in favour of the proposals set out in this Report.

Professor G. R. Evans (Emeritus Professor of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History), read by the Deputy Junior Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I endorse the concerns expressed in the Dissenting Note. It is one thing to rearrange the deckchairs within the Unified Administrative Service (UAS), quite another to propose changes to the fundamental governance of the University. However carefully I read this Report I cannot quite see where its case slips from administration to governance, as it certainly does. How exactly is the General Board’s jurisdiction to change under these proposed new arrangements? This is surely as substantial a matter as the abolition of the Office of Secretary General some years ago?

Yes the UAS is under the supervision of Council. That requires no change to the Statutes and Ordinances. But surely other implications of these proposals will, yet the Recommendations in this Report seem to have nothing to say about those beyond an amendment to the Regulations for the UAS.

Professor A. L. Fowden (Head of the School of the Biological Sciences, and Girton College), read by the Deputy Junior Proctor:

The Heads of School have discussed the formation of the three new administrative divisions and fully support their establishment. This new structure will not only provide better support for each of the Pro-Vice-Chancellors but also aid the business of the Schools with clear lines of communication and engagement. It will improve efficiency and accountability, and allow the Pro-Vice-Chancellors to concentrate on the more strategic elements of their roles. This is particularly important given the rapidly changing landscape of funding for teaching and research. The proposal has the strongest possible support from the Heads of the Schools of Biological Sciences, Clinical Medicine, Technology, and Arts and Humanities.

Professor D. A. Cardwell (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Planning elect), read by the Deputy Junior Proctor:

The proposal by the Council and the General Board to establish Education, Research, and Strategic Partnerships Divisions impacts directly and significantly on my newly-defined role of Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Planning. The main consequence of this will be to enable the Academic Secretary to Head the Academic Division and therefore focus her or his attention directly on supporting academic strategy and planning within the new administrative structure of the UAS. Given the clear expansion in the relatively broad range of activities within the existing Academic Division and the specific inclusion of responsibility for strategy in my PVC role, I consider this focus to be essential if the University is to operate effectively and if I am to receive the adequate level of support required to perform my duties. Significantly, the effect of the establishment of the three new Divisions will provide much needed and increased uniformity of administrative support at senior level for each of the five PVCs, which can reasonably be expected to lead to improved operating efficiency, the ability to deal with an increase in number and complexity of tasks, and better coherence across the key business areas of the University. The establishment of the three new Divisions and the proposal to re-focus the duties of the Academic Secretary to provide primary administrative support for the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Planning has my complete support.

Professor E. V. Ferran (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations):

I fully support the proposal to establish three new Divisions of the University Offices and the role outlined for the Academic Secretary, as Head of the Academic Division. I am confident that these changes, which respond to the growing demands on our administration, will enhance efficiency and effectiveness. In my view it is essential for each of the Pro-Vice-Chancellors to work closely with a principal senior administrator on matters within their remit.

I welcome the commitment to reviewing the duties currently attached to the role of Academic Secretary to ensure that they remain appropriate. Organizational arrangements must not be static, but as they evolve to meet new challenges, it is important also to check that nothing of value is inadvertently lost as a result. The current review of the role of Head of Institution has identified certain important functions that in the past were associated with the Academic Secretary. The most appropriate location now for these functions should be determined based on the current situation and the strategic agenda.

Professor C. Abell (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research), read by the Deputy Junior Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Joint Report of the Council and the General Board proposes the establishment of an Education Division, a Research Division, and a Strategic Partnerships Division. The Council and the General Board recognize the need for these changes and, when endorsing the evolution of the Academic Secretary’s role, noted the proposal that these three new Divisions be established to strengthen the University’s administrative structures. This represents a very timely and much needed development that addresses a number of problems while providing a logical structure to support inter alia the work of the Pro‑Vice-Chancellors.

A significant amount of thought and care went into developing this proposal. It went through several iterations that were discussed and refined over months. The proposal has subsequently been endorsed and approved by our major committees. The Note of Dissent fails to acknowledge the significant merit of the proposal, but rather defends the status quo with arguments that include a figure taken out of context and hearsay. Further, the Note of Dissent focuses much of its attention on the role of the Academic Secretary, which is not what the Joint Report is about. It is too easy to come up with criticism – what is much more difficult is to develop serious, constructive proposals like the one we are being asked to approve, and which I strongly support.