Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6530

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Vol cxlix No 12

pp. 179–265

Annual Report of the Council for the academic year 2017–18

Annual Report

The Council begs leave, in accordance with Statute A IV 1(c), to report to the University as follows:


The Council presents this Annual Report on its work for the academic year 2017–18 to the University. The Report is delivered in three sections. The first section focuses on the main strategic developments that have engaged the Council and its Committees; the second part includes brief reports of the work of the Council’s Committees and working groups; the third part provides an overview of changes to the University Statutes and Ordinances, committee membership, and senior positions. The Council’s Report should be read in parallel to the Annual Report of the General Board to the Council for the Academic Year 2017–18, which sets out the University’s academic activities overseen by the Board and its Committees in 2017–18.

I. Strategic Developments

Pension dispute and pay negotiations

Throughout the academic year, and in particular in the Lent and Easter Terms, the Council extensively discussed the dispute between the higher education sector employer institutions and the University and College Union (UCU) in relation to the proposed changes to the benefits structure of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). The Council welcomed the announcement of UCU and Universities UK (UUK) in March 2018 about the establishment of a Joint Expert Panel (JEP) to examine the valuation of the scheme. On 13 September 2018, the JEP reported proposed changes to the valuations assumption that would reduce the costs of providing existing benefits from 36.6% to 29.2% of salary. The proposed changes in assumptions draw on more up-to-date information on the market performance of the scheme’s assets, expected returns, and mortality as well as an increase in risk for employers. The Council is aware that the critical point would be how The Pensions Regulator (TPR) reacts to the new proposal and what pressure it will put on the USS Trustee to reject the assumptions or seek additional assurance from employers. At this stage, the timeline for the decision by the USS Trustee / TPR remains unclear but UUK are hoping to arrive at an overall conclusion by the end of the calendar year.

In the meantime, and in parallel with the JEP’s considerations over the summer, a member consultation has been launched by the USS on cost sharing proposals for the increase in contributions for employees and employers to take effect from 1 April 2019. This cost- sharing mechanism is a contingency measure that the USS Trustee is obliged to execute in order to demonstrate to The Pensions Regulator that it is acting responsibly to maintain the scheme’s funding level. If different benefit arrangements are agreed as a result of the JEP’s report in September 2018, the Trustee will move to implement them. This process could take up to twelve months.

The Council remains concerned about the impact of the unresolved pension dispute and the unsuccessful dispute resolution process with regard to the national pay settlement for 2018–19 on the University as an academic community.

Having received a Grace concerning the USS in March 2018, the Council published a Report setting out the reason for withholding authorization of the Grace alongside a revised Grace and a related Notice.1 The revised Grace stipulates, among other aspects, that in respect of the longer-term position of the USS, the University supports every effort to find a solution that offers an attractive, sustainable, and fair pension settlement acceptable to the University’s USS members.

In May 2018, the employers’ side of the New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (N‑JNCHES) made a final offer on the national pay settlement for 2018–19. The offer was rejected by the relevant trade unions. Following an unsuccessful dispute resolution process at national level, each of the trade unions is balloting its members about industrial action. The Council engaged in the consultation process with the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association on what level of pay uplift would be affordable for the University. The Council further approved that the University implemented a 2% offer (higher for lower grades) with effect from 1 August 2018 as a draft settlement, pending the outcome of further discussions at a national level.


Following a Grace submitted by the Council on 11 January 20172 concerning investment in companies whose business is wholly or substantially concerned with the extraction of fossil fuels, the Council established a working group on divestment (DWG) and commissioned a report into the advantages and disadvantages of the policy of divestment in the last academic year 2016–17.

The DWG consulted widely with relevant bodies, individuals, students and staff, and held two University town hall style meetings in Michaelmas Term 2017. It presented its findings to the Council in April 2018 and recommended that the University adopt a stance of ‘considered’ divestment.

The Council welcomed the recommendations of the DWG and discussed its response in detail over the course of meetings in May and June 2018. In its response the Council agreed a three-part strategy to help facilitate the transition to a global carbon-neutral future. The three parts comprise: the implementation of a policy of considered divestment; a commitment to support further research into the emerging field of environmental impact investment; and the establishment of a Centre for a Carbon Neutral Future. In addition, in April 2018 the Council agreed to put in place a better mechanism to increase transparency around the Cambridge University Endowment Fund (CUEF) following an interim report of the DWG and consultation with the Investment Board.

Advisory Group on Strategic Responses to Brexit

The Advisory Group on Strategic Responses to Brexit was formed in Michaelmas Term 2017 at the request of the Vice-Chancellor. It was asked to consider the University’s strategic response to the potential outcomes of the Brexit negotiations. The Group identified a set of scenarios and made recommendations on how the University could mitigate the adverse impact of each of the scenarios internally and in its engagement with government and external stakeholders. The Council received the report of the Group in June 2018 with a view to a preliminary discussion at its strategic meeting in September 2018 and a detailed discussion in October 2018. At the October meeting, the Council will also receive reports from two groups which have now replaced the Advisory Group: (1) the College Cambridge Brexit Strategy Group (CCBSG), which focuses on medium- and long-term strategic planning for a ‘soft’ Brexit, where science and education would be one of the key aspects of the partnership between the UK and the EU; and (2) the EU Working Group, which focuses on a contingency plan for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

mycambridge – University consultation

In January 2018, the Vice-Chancellor launched a University-wide consultation process – mycambridge – to gather the views of staff and students about the challenges and opportunities for Cambridge. Close to 350 members of the collegiate University attended five open events hosted by the Vice-Chancellor. Over 550 people responded to an online questionnaire. Participants were asked to consider the University’s partnerships, its reputation, its ability to attract talent nationally and internationally, and how it might best pursue its mission. Participants were invited to reflect on issues such as what makes the University unique, what difficulties need to be addressed to ensure the University’s continued success, and how to nurture and support an increasingly diverse collegiate community.

The Council received a summary of the key findings in May and the feedback from the consultation was made available to all members of the University in a Summary Report in September 2018. The findings of the consultation will continue to inform the Council’s strategic discussion in the next academic year 2018–19.

University budget

The 2018 Budget Report reflected the significant uncertainties and changes affecting the higher education sector – several of which are addressed elsewhere in this Annual Report – and the challenge of developing and committing to strategies for excellence in education and research in an uncertain and changing financial environment.

The 2017 Budget Report forecast an overall operating deficit and that the Chest would remain in deficit over the planning period, at levels of £21m in 2017–18 improving to £6m by 2020–21. The 2018 Budget Report reaffirmed that message; a forecast deficit of £25.2m in 2018–19 is expected to improve slightly to £15m by 2021–22.

In this context the need for strategies to support the generation of new and additional income to the Chest, and constrain and reduce expenditure, remains of critical importance. The Council welcomes the work on developing a 10–15-year high-level financial model on improving the University’s long-term financial sustainability. In the short term, the Council recognizes that the University must continue to invest in areas of strategic academic importance and provide administrative services that are fundamental to supporting the University’s mission.

External finance

Following authorization by the Regent House, and on the advice of the Finance Committee, in May 2018 the Council agreed to proceed with a bond issue of up to £600m for income-generating projects. The decision recognized a market opportunity of securing external finance at historically low interest rates. The proceeds of the bonds provide the University with options for developing its non-operational estate (i.e. capital projects outside those directly enabling core academic teaching and research activities). The projects will bring significant indirect benefits essential to the University’s mission. They will, inter alia, address the critically important housing challenge, provide alterative income streams at a time of significant financial volatility, and add significant long-term value to the University’s academic mission and student experience.

The execution of the bonds secured very low-cost funding for the University. One of the bonds was issued with the lowest ever level of repayment interest achieved in any UK HE sector debt issue. The second bond is the largest Consumer Prices Index-linked debt issue to date.

The Council is conscious of the need for the externally raised funds to be managed responsibly and effectively. A Special Ordinance is proposed by Grace 2 of 5 December 2018 to restrict the application of the bonds proceeds to income-generating projects. The Special Ordinance will stipulate that if proceeds are to be used for other purposes the approval of the Regent House will be required. The Council, together with its Finance Committee, will also establish detailed parameters and benchmarks for each project. Projects will be subjected to rigorous scrutiny ahead of approval and robustly monitored during their implementation.

West and North West Cambridge developments

The Council received quarterly updates from the Board of the West and North West Cambridge Estates (BWNWCE) including the project’s progress against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and financial metrics. Rental growth was identified as one of the main risks of the project. The Council welcomed that, as of May 2018, the financial reporting includes two scenarios for rental growth at 2.5% and 3.5%. The Council also noted that the NWCD team successfully negotiated with the local authority to agree refinements to the rental model of the affordable housing for staff members at Eddington. As of summer 2018, over 600 key worker properties have been completed. Hundreds of properties have been handed over during a short period, and they are gradually being filled through the autumn. The Storey’s Field Centre and a Postdoc Centre which houses the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPdA) have been opened. The on-site nursery (Eddington Nursery) will open in autumn 2018, and the project team is in negotiations with further retail outlets about their presence at Eddington, in addition to the supermarket currently serving the community.

In June 2018, the Council received an update on the programme and timeline for a potential Phase 2 of the North West Cambridge Development project and agreed a two-stage approval process. The Council will receive a ‘concept case’ with indicative costs in Lent Term 2019 and a full business case including detailed costs following a tender process in Lent Term 2020. The Council anticipates that this two-stage process will provide greater certainty on costs before Regent House approval for a full case is sought. It is also mindful that any future development of the site must be aligned with the University’s strategy on infrastructure.

The integration of management of the West and North West sites has seen the introduction of a cross-sites working group to focus on the commercial research strategy which will enable academic and industry collaboration.

OfS registration

In July 2018, the University successfully registered with the new regulator, the Office for Students, as an ‘English higher education provider’. There is one condition of registration which concerns the Access and Participation Plan (APP). The OfS requires the University: (1) to conduct and complete an evaluation of the impact of its financial support for students with regard to the commitments of the APP; and (2) to produce a report on the outcomes of the evaluation. Work is under way to address these concerns, and the Council will receive regular updates on progress throughout the academic year 2018–19.

Student matters

Strategy for student wellbeing and mental health

The Council discussed an early draft of a Strategy for Student Wellbeing and Mental Health in June 2018. Student wellbeing has become a major issue for all universities, and the need for the sector to engage seriously and strategically with the topic has been highlighted in recent reports from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Universities UK, and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). There is strong desire across the collegiate University for more integrated provision, with an increasing number of students accessing the University Counselling Service and a rapid growth in disclosures to the Disability Resource Centre by students with mental health issues.

The strategy comprises three key strands: (1) a research study to collect qualitative and quantitative data to highlight the problem areas to be addressed and to support the evaluation of future preventative or support interventions; (2) a wellbeing campaign supported by facilitated discussion groups with staff and student members drawn from diverse backgrounds across the collegiate University; and (3) a deep-dive ‘system analysis’ of existing support provision across the collegiate University to explore interconnectivity, efficacy and efficiency of support to inform its future development. The Council considers this area to be a high priority for development.

Access and widening participation

The University continues to work on widening participation and improving access. In July 2018, the University successfully negotiated with the Office for Students (OfS) its first access and participation plan for 2019–20. This document, which replaces the access agreement with the now defunct Office for Fair Access, sets out a commitment to provide financial support to low income students, deliver outreach work to raise attainment and aspiration, and targets demonstrating the progress it will make on the admission of under-represented and disadvantaged groups. The Council agreed that it is of great importance that the University and the Colleges, individually as well as collectively, strive to perform well against the benchmarks set for each year. Work is already being done to embed monitoring of performance, review targets and to identify what measures need to be in place in order to meet objectives. The Council welcomed particularly the plans for University-wide transition programmes, including a one-year transition course to commence in 2021.

Research integrity

The Council was regularly updated on the press coverage of the work that a Cambridge academic undertook in a private capacity with commercial partners including Cambridge Analytica. The University received and responded to multiple requests for information on the issue under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as multiple enquiries from the press. In addition, the University received and responded to a request for cooperation from the Information Commissioner’s Office as part of its enquiry into the use of social media in political campaigns. In the context of these events, the Vice-Chancellor, following consultation with the Council, established an Advisory Working Group on Research Integrity (AWGRI). The Advisory Group is to review the University’s current procedure for the management of research involving personal data, the management of conflicts of interest arising from work undertaken by University staff in a private capacity, and the training provided to University staff and research students in research integrity matters.

Health and Safety compliance

In spring 2018, the Council was made aware that improvements had to be made to the management, governance, and assurance of building compliance across the estate of the University of Cambridge. The Directors of Health, Safety, and Regulated Facilities (HSRF) and Estate Management (EM) are developing a methodology to address the concerns. Three separate and distinct levels of assurance are being proposed at a local (EM), remote (HSRF), and external (Audit Committee) level. The aim is to finalize the new methodology in the Michaelmas Term 2018. In addition, the University is developing an updated method of recording built assets and demonstrating compliance with Health and Safety legislation. The updated method is to ensure that buildings are managed, maintained, and monitored systematically and in line with the legal requirements. Operational compliance works continue across the estate. The Health and Safety Committee continues to receive regular updates on the progress on safety compliance.

Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA)

The University continues to operate a retirement age for University officers. The arrangement was last formally reviewed in 2015–16, when the Council and General Board approved the recommendations of a review group that the retirement age of 67 be maintained.3 The application of these arrangements is regularly monitored with particular reference to legal, financial, and pension-related developments. In this context, the Council approved the establishment of a working group in July 2018. The working group is to assess which offices should properly be subject to a compulsory retirement age.

General Data Protection Regulation

The Council received a detailed update on the University’s preparations for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation and associated new data protection legislation. It also approved a new Data Protection Policy and a new Data Sharing Protocol to govern the sharing of personal data between the University, the Colleges, and Cambridge in America.

Development and Alumni engagement

The academic year 2017–18 was a remarkable year for the Dear World, Yours Cambridge campaign. Overall, at the end of August 2018, the Dear World, Yours Cambridge campaign reached £1.261bn. It reached the halfway point of the £2bn goal in December 2017 and surpassed £1.2bn (the total raised in the 800th Anniversary Campaign) in June 2018. For the first time it crossed the mark of £300m in new funds raised across the Colleges and the University.

University Development, too, is reporting a record year of fundraising performance. It surpassed its 2017–18 target of £150m with a total of £176m in new funds raised in 2017–18. The previous high mark was 2006–07 with £127.8m raised. The context to this exceptional performance is the increasing number of academics engaged at the leadership level of the Campaign. A significant strategic focus on closing eight-figure gifts also proved successful. Three gifts of more than £10m and one at £9.25m totalling £124m accounted for over 70% of total funds raised this year.

Alumni engagement continues to increase with a record attendance of 1,500 at the Alumni Festival and further growth in our UK and international outreach through Global Cambridge, with events in Leeds, Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Mumbai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.

II. Reports from Committees and Working Groups

Audit Committee

In 2017–18 the Audit Committee focused on key areas of operational risk including the cyber security programme, data protection, space utilisation, pensions, capital projects, and safety compliance. The Committee received presentations from senior officers and held specific workshops. The findings of audits carried out by the University’s internal auditors Deloitte, whose programme of audits is driven by the University’s Key Risk Register, complemented the discussions. As part of a general cycle of presentations looking at important areas of interest across the University, the Committee heard from the University’s Development and Alumni Relations office (CUDAR) and the School of Clinical Medicine on risks relating to those bodies. It also obtained broader assurance across key areas of operational activity through the annual departmental assurance survey. The Committee is currently considering recommendations on how to ensure that the survey has the best focus and the greatest impact on improving the key first-line controls across the University.

In Easter Term 2018, the University embarked on a review of its set of key risks and the approach to risk management. The review is facilitated by Deloitte. It is envisaged that the revised approach will focus on improving risk linkages to decision making as well as planning and operational management.

Following a market-testing exercise carried out by a sub-group of the Audit Committee with representation from Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment, the current external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, were reappointed for three years from 1 August 2019.

Finance Committee

The work of the Finance Committee during 2017–18 has focused on the performance of major University operations and projects, including budget variances and risk mitigation, in parallel with developing a collective understanding of the University’s longer-term financial sustainability.

Specifically, the Committee considered the University’s Financial Statements, regular reviews of the University management accounts with a focus on cash flow, the University Budget and Capital Plan, financial considerations associated with the University pension schemes, and discussions around the future of the USS. In addition, the Committee received updates on the North West Cambridge development and the wider University estate, developments at Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Innovation Capital, and periodic reports from the Investment Board on CUEF performance. The Committee’s work programme includes an annual consideration of University companies and trusts, internal controls, financial regulations, policies, and systems.

In addition to the routine operational business, significant consideration was given to the development and ultimate execution of the successful new bond issues, raising £600m of external finance towards future revenue generating projects in the non-operational estate.4 The Committee also reported to the Council on the implementation of measures to meet the requirements of the Criminal Finance Act 2017, to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion in the UK and overseas.

The Committee was assisted in its work during 2017–18 through the operation of the Pensions Working Group, the Finance Committee Bond Sub-Committee, and the Finance Committee Business Sub-Committee.

Remuneration Committee

The Remuneration Committee of the Council reviewed its terms of reference to ensure those terms and the operation of the Committee met the requirements of the new Committee of University Chairs (CUC) remuneration code of practice and new regulations from the OfS. The proposed changes add clarity on membership to remove any potential conflicts of interest and are designed to bring greater transparency to issues of senior pay.

In addition, the Committee continued to manage cases for market payments to grade 12 staff and provided oversight to payments made under incentive schemes for staff in the North West Cambridge project team and the Investment Office.

The Committee coordinated the process for setting the Vice-Chancellor’s objectives and for the review of his performance against those objectives.

Planning and Resources Committee

The work of the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC) during the 2017–18 academic year focused largely on the scrutiny of proposals for major building projects via its Capital Projects Process. The most significant of these projects was the approval of the Full Business Case for the new Cavendish Laboratory (Cavendish III). The Committee also oversaw the development of a prioritization and scoring mechanism to help in operating its capital planning and decision making processes within the constraints of financial sustainability. This mechanism tests the feasibility of delivering individual projects in the next five years and at five-yearly intervals thereafter and assesses the potential academic impact of individual projects across a range of categories.

The Committee approved the establishment of an academic seed fund to provide pump-priming for strategic, cross-School academic initiatives that are capable of bringing additional income into the University. The fund was created from underspent allocations from centrally administered funds. An initial round of awards has been made. The awards support early stages in the establishment of an Institute of Neuroscience (as agreed by the General Board in response to the Strategic Research Review of Neuroscience), and new collaborations between the School of Technology, the School of Arts and Humanities, and the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences (an Observatory for Human-Machine Collaboration), and the School of Technology and the School of Clinical Medicine (a Centre for Engineering Better Care).

The Committee also had visibility of the University’s involvement in local and regional matters via the Estates Strategy Committee. During 2017–18, the Estates Strategy Committee endorsed the development of a University spatial strategy, approved the University’s response to the Greater Cambridge Partnership consultation on a public transport bus route and the Park & Ride site to the west of Cambridge, and gave approval in principle for University land at Lord’s Bridge to be used for the development of a solar farm.

Human Resources Committee

In 2017–18, the HR Committee oversaw various developments in the areas of recruitment, talent management, reward, and a thriving and inclusive community to support the People Strategy.

The University introduced new arrangements for academic recruitment which enables institutions to recruit to academic posts in a more timely and flexible matter. A new training programme explains how to create conditions to recruit the best candidates, avoid implicit bias, and ensure fair selection.

The University launched a visa loan scheme to support international staff with immigration costs.

The Academic Practice Group (APG) worked with the Academic Division’s Educational and Student Policy section to develop a programme for the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning (CCTL). To help align the work of CCTL with the University’s priorities for education, the APG has now transferred to the Academic Division. Staff at Personal and Professional Development increased the number of apprentices in the University. They delivered roadshows and briefings, together with a website to raise awareness of available opportunities. After a second year participating in the Ambitious Futures graduate trainee programme, the University developed the Professional Services Graduate Programme and recruited its first cohort. 

The University launched the Inclusive Cambridge website, following publication of the gender pay gap report. The website provides information to staff and managers to help reduce the gap. A pilot rental deposit scheme supports new and existing staff in securing accommodation.

In October 2017, the University launched Breaking the Silence, a campaign to prevent sexual misconduct and harassment. This cultural change programme included student-focused initiatives and a staff programme which continues to roll out across institutions. The launch was a great success, with 25,000 hits on the website and tweets reaching five million accounts. The campaign was awarded a Mark of Excellence by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (Not-for-Profit Campaign). Other wellbeing initiatives focused on mental health awareness and managing work demands. Lastly, the newly opened Postdoc Centre at Eddington houses the OPdA and provides facilities for the postdoc community.

Investment Board

The Investment Board continued to act during 2017–18 on behalf of all investors in the CUEF. The Board is made up of senior figures active in investment markets, with strong connections and sympathies to the University, and the Vice-Chancellor to ensure congruence with the University. The external member experts continue to bring insights into sector structures and opportunities, and new ideas and business to the Investment Office.

The Investment Board received interim reports from the Investment Office and continued to advise the Council through its Finance Committee on matters relating to the CUEF. The Board monitored the performance of the CUEF against appropriate benchmarks and submitted its annual report to the Council. It noted a challenging but strong year. The 2018 CUEF performance of 8.8%, brings the Investment Office annualized performance for the ten years since its inception to 10%. This performance equates to a cumulative monetary outperformance of over £300m to the agreed benchmark and a delivery of value materially ahead of the agreed long-term growth objective.

Press and Assessment Board

The Press and Assessment Board was established in 2017 to oversee the businesses of the Cambridge University Press (CUP) and Cambridge Assessment (CA). It is responsible for the businesses’ strategies and objectives with a view to maximising value (in the widest sense) for the University as a whole. This includes better alignment of the businesses with each other and with the University where appropriate. In the current year, the Board received extensive reports on the wider businesses’ competitors and the performance of the businesses’ various business streams. With the approval of Ofqual, the Board agreed to act as governing body in respect of CA’s awarding bodies for regulatory purposes (in the case of Oxford Cambridge and RSA (OCR) in its capacity as the board of directors of OCR).

The Board held an Away Day in January 2018 when it reviewed in detail a prospective joint strategy between the businesses under a number of different themes, including digital formative assessment, sales and market alignment, teacher training, Cambridge maths, education reform, and EdTech/AI capability. The Board has approved the businesses’ accounts for their respective financial years, as well as their three-year business plans. It has also considered opportunities for investment and acquisition.

Committee on Benefactions and External and Legal Affairs

The Committee, formerly the Advisory Committee on Benefactions and External and Legal Affairs (ACBELA), revised its name and remit in June 2018. The new Committee on Benefactions and External and Legal Affairs (CBELA) is primarily concerned with the scrutiny of sources of significant funding to the University from an ethical and reputational perspective. Amongst other business, it also exercises oversight of the University’s legal affairs and reviews the University’s policy on investment responsibility on behalf of the Council.

The Committee noted over the year that individual academics are increasingly taking a lead in promoting benefactions, and due diligence reports prepared by CUDAR now identify the academic promoting the benefaction where appropriate. During the year, the Committee positively reviewed over thirty donations totalling approximately £130m, advising the Vice-Chancellor that they would be acceptable. The Committee advised that two further potential benefactions could be cultivated, subject to the matter returning to the Committee prior to the University entering into any commitment. During the period in question, the Committee advised that three potential benefactions should not be cultivated further.

Prevent Committee

The Council received the University’s annual report on the Prevent duty for the period 2016–17 and approved its submission to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), as the monitoring authority for the Prevent duty in relevant higher education bodies. The Vice-Chancellor received confirmation from the Chief Executive of HEFCE in March 2018 that the report demonstrated sufficient evidence of due regard to the Prevent duty; the letter also indicated that the Office for Students would become the new monitoring authority for the sector with effect from 1 April 2018. The Prevent Committee, a joint committee of the Council and the General Board, continued to oversee the University’s compliance with the duty during the year.

Review Committee on Student Discipline

In the Easter Term 2018, the Committee published a consultation document putting forward proposed changes to the University’s student disciplinary procedure.5 A response to the comments received will be published in the Michaelmas Term 2018. The Committee also contributed to a response to the consultation by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) on draft guidance on student disciplinary procedures in July 2018. The Committee expects to commence work on a revised procedure in the Michaelmas Term 2018, following publication of the final OIA guidance.

Governance Review Working Group

The Working Group was convened in May 2017 to consider three specific aspects of governance: Regent House membership; Council membership; and Discussions.6 The Group met on three occasions in 2017–18 to discuss these matters and took into account comments received during an initial consultation. In June 2018, the Council asked the Group to also consider an alternative to the removal of the Faculty membership criterion as proposed by members of the Regent House (see p. 187). The Group launched a consultation on Discussions, inviting comments by 31 October 2018.7

Review of the Careers Service

In November 2016, the Council and the General Board commissioned a review of the Careers Service. The joint Report of this review was published at the end of Michaelmas Term 2017 and set out new governance arrangements for the Careers Service, including a new Careers Service Committee. This committee held its first meeting in the Easter Term 2018 and began to consider the other recommendations of the review (e.g. the development of a strategic plan for careers and employability).

III. Graces / Changes to Statutes, Membership, and Personnel

Changes to the University’s Statutes

Amendments to Statutes A III and A VIII in the form approved by Grace 1 of 27 September 2017 were approved by Her Majesty in Council on 24 April 2018.8 These changes confirm in Statute the powers of members of the Regent House to initiate and submit Graces to the Regent House, and to initiate proposals for the amendment of a Grace already submitted to the Regent House but not yet approved.

Graces and amendments initiated by members of the Regent House

Age limit on membership of the Regent House9

The initiated Grace proposed that the age limit on membership of the Regent House be removed; a review of the membership suggested that this change would most directly affect College Fellows. Following a consultation with the Colleges in the Michaelmas Term 2017, the Council agreed to submit the Grace as Grace 1 of 7 February 2018 and noted that it would support an amendment proposing an alternative to the Grace. An amendment was received, which proposed that Heads of House certify that the Fellows of their Colleges were active participants in the University’s affairs. A ballot was held and the Regent House approved the Grace in its amended form (340 in favour of the Grace in its original form, 392 in favour of the Grace in its amended form). The Grace was set aside by the Council’s Notice dated 24 September 2018 following the withholding of consent to the change by a College. The Council has asked the Governance Review Working Group to consider anew the removal of the age limit.

Living Wage10

The Grace proposed that the University should seek accreditation to the Living Wage Foundation. It was submitted as Grace 2 of 7 February 2018 and approved without a ballot on 16 February 2018.


This amendment sought the continuation of the publication of complete class-lists, rejecting the opt-in system for obtaining consent for publication proposed by Grace 2 of 17 January 2018. The Vice-Chancellor ruled the amendment inadmissible on the grounds that it would contravene data protection legislation, resulting in a ballot on the original Grace. The original Grace was approved by ballot (412 in favour, 391 against).

Universities Superannuation Scheme12

This Grace proposed, inter alia, that the University should ‘continue to offer a competitive Defined Benefit pension scheme’. The recommendations of a Report proposing that the Grace be withheld were approved by Grace 2 of 6 June 2018. The Council submitted its own Grace, which retained elements of the original Grace, and was approved as Grace 1 of 2 May 2018.

Faculty membership criterion13

Initially received as an amendment to Grace 1 of 18 April 2018, this proposal sought the removal of the Faculty membership criterion from the provisions governing membership of the Regent House.14 The Vice-Chancellor ruled the amendment immaterial to the main purpose of the Grace15 and referred the amendment to the Council, which determined that the amendment should be submitted as a separate Grace (Grace 1 of 27 June 2018) and a ballot held. Subsequently, the Council received a proposed amendment to Grace 1 of 27 June 2018 and agreed that the amendment should be included as an option in the ballot. Both that ballot and a ballot on Grace 1 of 18 April 2018 were held in the Michaelmas Term 2018. Both Graces were approved, Grace 1 of 27 June 2018 as amended.16

Ballots and topics of concern

Discussions of topics of concern on Hobsons’ Brook,17 the standard of proof applied in student disciplinary cases,18 and on Grace 3 of 10 May 2018 (proposed University nursery building on Harrison Drive)19 were held during 2017–18. A ballot was requested on Grace 3 of 10 May 2018 and the Grace was approved in the resulting vote (777 in favour, 151 against).

Changes in the University’s senior leadership

Professor Duncan Maskell, W, stepped down as Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor on 30 June 2018 and as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) on 31 July 2018. The Council thanks him for his distinguished service to the University and wishes him well in his new role as Vice‑Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. Professor Graham Virgo, DOW, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), was appointed as Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor from 1 July 2018 until 30 September 2020.20 Professor David Cardwell, F, commenced his three-year period of office as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and Planning) on 1 August 2018.21

The Council noted the following appointments to senior positions in the University in 2017–18: Dr Rachel Coupe as Interim Academic Secretary; Mr David Hughes, W, as Director of Finance; Ms Karen Kennedy, CLH, as Director of Strategic Partnerships; Professor Ian Leslie, CHR, as Director of Information Services; Mr Saul Nassé as Group Chief Executive of Cambridge Assessment; and Dr Regina Sachers, CTH, as Head of the Registrary’s Office.

It also thanks the following for their service: Dr Kirsty Allen, W, Mr Andrew Reid, W, and Mr Simon Lebus, EM.

19 November 2018

Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor

Jennifer Hirst

John Shakeshaft

Richard Anthony

Nicholas Holmes

Susan Smith

R. Charles

Fiona Karet

Sara Weller

Stephen J. Cowley

Mark Lewisohn

Mark Wormald

Anthony Freeling

Jeremy Morris

Jocelyn Wyburd

David Greenaway

Michael Proctor

Note of Dissent

We are unable to support the Annual Report of the Council to the Regent House. Council members are entitled under Standing Order 11(ii)* to see all papers of subsidiary committees. We cannot properly discharge our duty as trustees of the University if we are arbitrarily and persistently denied access to such documents, in particular, to those of the Investment Board.

Following the disclosure in the Paradise Papers that the Cambridge University Endowment Fund had invested in Shell via an offshore company – contrary to what Council members had been led to believe about energy investments – one of us (Professor Anderson) demanded access to the Investment Board’s papers. This access has been denied, as Professor Anderson reported to the Regent House on 23 January 2018 in the Discussion of last year’s Report (Reporter, 6489, 2017–18, p. 197).

Professor Dame Athene Donald’s Divestment Working Group, reporting earlier this year, subsequently remarked on the opacity of the Investment Office and recommended that transparency be improved (pp. 13–14 and Recommendation 6). Council members have since demanded access to Investment Board papers on more than one occasion; this has either been denied with various excuses, or access has been promised and not delivered. We accept that there are some circumstances where investment decisions cannot be made public – such as venture capital investments in startups that are still in stealth mode. However that is no argument for preventing us as trustees from seeing the Board papers in confidence, as is normal with the papers of all other committees that report to Council.

20 November 2018

Ross Anderson

Nicholas Gay

Sofia Ropek-Hewson

Evie Aspinall

Marcel Llavero Pasquina


Annex A: Council membership 2017–18

Council members (other than ex officio and student members) serve for four years from 1 January in two cohorts; the text formatting reflects those cohorts. Student members of the Council serve for one year from 1 July.

The Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor

Elected as Heads of Colleges

Mr Stuart Laing, CC (until 31 December 2017)

Professor Susan Smith, G

The Reverend Dr Jeremy Morris, TH (from 1 January 2018)

Dr Anthony Freeling, HH

Professor Michael Proctor, K

Elected as Professors or Readers

Professor Ross Anderson, CHU

Dr Susan Oosthuizen, W

Professor Nick Gay, CHR

Professor Fiona Karet, DAR

Elected as members of the Regent House

Dr Richard Anthony, JE

Dr Ruth Charles, N

Dr Nicholas Holmes, T

Dr Alice Hutchings

Dr Stephen Cowley, EM

Dr Jennifer Hirst, JE (from 2 March 2018)

Dr Philippa Rogerson, CAI (until 12 January 2018)

Dr Mark Wormald, PEM

Ms Jocelyn Wyburd, CL

External members

Mr Mark Lewisohn, CHR

Mr John Shakeshaft, T

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Ms Sara Weller

Student members

Ms Daisy Eyre, JE (until 30 June 2018)

Ms Darshana Joshi, HH (until 30 June 2018)

Ms Umang Khandelwal, N (until 30 June 2018)

Ms Evie Aspinall, PEM (from 1 July 2018)

Ms Sofia Ropek-Hewson, PEM (from 1 July 2018)

Mr Marcel Llavero Pasquina, G (from 1 July 2018)

Annex B: Statement of primary responsibilities

The Council has adopted this Statement of Primary Responsibilities.

The principal responsibilities of the Council are defined by University Statute A IV 1 which reads:

(a) The Council shall be the principal executive and policy-making body of the University. The Council shall have general responsibility for the administration of the University, for the planning of its work, and for the management of its resources; it shall have power to take such action as is necessary for it to discharge these responsibilities. It shall also perform such other executive and administrative duties as may be delegated to it by the Regent House or assigned to it by Statute or Ordinance.

(b) The Council shall have the right of reporting to the University. It shall advise the Regent House on matters of general concern to the University.

(c) The Council shall make an Annual Report to the University, and shall initiate and submit a Grace for the approval of the Report by the Regent House.

(d) The Council shall have the power of submitting Graces to the Regent House and to the Senate. The procedure for the submission of Graces shall be prescribed by Special Ordinance.

(e) The Council shall oversee the work of all those institutions in the University which are placed under its supervision, and shall ensure that the University officers assigned to those institutions are satisfactorily performing the duties and fulfilling the conditions of tenure of their offices.

Moreover, the Council shall perform such duties in connection with financial matters as are assigned to it by Statute F I.

Pursuant to these responsibilities the Council:

through its Finance Committee, its Audit Committee, and the Planning and Resources Committee, ensures the University’s accountability for the proper use of public funds;

supervises the financial position of the University through its statutory Finance Committee;

oversees the investment management of the Cambridge University Endowment Fund through its Investment Board;

arranges audit through its statutory Audit Committee;

conducts legal business and ethical scrutiny, especially in respect of the acceptance of benefactions and investment responsibility, through its Committee on Benefactions and External and Legal Affairs;

discharges its responsibilities in relation to the University as an employer through the Human Resources Committee (HRC), a joint Committee with the General Board;

develops University policy on the advice of the General Board and that of specialist advisory bodies;

conducts planning and resource allocation through the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC) and the Resource Management Committee (RMC), both joint Committees with the General Board;

deals with business about buildings and the University estate with the advice of the Buildings Committee (a joint Committee which reports through the PRC), and on the advice of the Finance Committee;

informs and advises the Regent House through Reports, Notices, and Graces, and through considering remarks made at Discussions;

conducts the University’s relations with government, regulatory bodies (including the Office for Students and UK Research and Innovation), other national bodies, and local and regional bodies, responding on behalf of the University to consultations and other matters as required under UK legislation;

supports and advises the Vice-Chancellor and, either through her or him or directly, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors;

supervises University institutions placed under its supervision, particularly through receiving reports, and also through the PRC and the HRC;

through the Finance Committee and the Press and Assessment Board exercises financial and some other supervision of Cambridge University Press, the Local Examinations Syndicate (Cambridge Assessment), University-owned companies, and some free-standing bodies such as the Cambridge scholarship trusts;

pursuant to Act of Parliament, discharges responsibilities for the University Student Unions through its Council Committee for the Supervision of the Student Unions;

makes (or recommends) senior appointments (including the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Registrary and, through its Standing Appointments Committee established by Ordinance, Directors and other senior staff in the Unified Administrative Service);

monitors risk management, emergency management, and value for money surveillance;

monitors the implementation of major projects, through special groups and the Information Services Committee, and the West and North West Cambridge Estates Board;

through the work of the Information Services Committee, monitors the provision of IT infrastructure and support;

oversees strategy concerning the postdoc community through its Postdoctoral Matters Committee, a joint committee with the General Board;

keeps University governance and similar matters under review;

makes a statutory annual report to the University;

monitors its own performance and effectiveness.

The Council has published the following statement (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 112):

Notice by the Council

Statement of intention

In carrying out their functions as the principal executive and policy-making body of the University the Council will consult the Regent House on questions of policy which in the Council’s judgement are likely to prove controversial. They will do this by submitting a Grace to the Regent House for the approval of a provisional decision or statement of intention; where appropriate, such a Grace will allow for the expression of a preference between alternative options. The Council will give consideration to remarks made at any Discussion of such matters and to the outcome of any vote on them.