Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6530

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Vol cxlix No 12

pp. 179–265

Annual Report of the General Board to the Council for the academic year 2017–18

1. Introduction

The General Board presents this Annual Report on its work for the academic year 2017–18. The Board draws particular attention to the following major activities that have engaged the Board and its Committees during the year:

Higher education landscape

Office for Students registration;

Teaching Excellence Framework;


Education Committee terms of reference;

Public display of class-lists;

Learning and teaching;

Learning and Teaching Reviews;

Establishment of new degrees and courses;

Overall degree classification;

Widening access and participation;

Student wellbeing and experience;

Student conduct and complaints;

Additional course costs for postgraduate study;

Education Strategy;


Research income and landscape;

Strategic Research Reviews;

Strategic research initiatives and networks;

Preparations for the Research Excellence Framework 2021;

External and international engagement

International strategy;

Strategic Partnerships Office;

Human Resources

People Strategy;

Academic staff recruitment;

Mandatory gender pay gap reporting;

Equality and Diversity;

Staff wellbeing;

Postdoctoral affairs;

Health and Safety

Updates on the Occupational Health Service, Staff Counselling Service, and Safety Office.

2. The higher education landscape

(i) Registration with the Office for Students

Fundamental changes to the regulation of the Higher Education sector have been realized in accordance with the Higher Education and Research Act 2017. The Office for Students (OfS) has been operational since 1 April 2018 and will assume its new regulatory functions in full from 1 August 2019. Until then, a transitional period is underway. All providers wishing to access student support and public funding from 1 August 2019 must register with the OfS in 2018−19. As part of the requirements for registration with the OfS, the General Board, through its Education Committee, approved the Access and Participation Plan; the self-assessment on compliance with consumer protection law; and the Student Protection Plan. The OfS confirmed the University’s registration for the 2018−19 academic year in July 2018.

The review process for compliance with consumer protection law identified a number of areas of potential risk, and further work is underway to review procedures and minimize risk. Guidance will be produced for Faculties and Departments and attention will be drawn to the financial penalties that might be incurred as a result of failing to comply with consumer law.

(ii) Teaching Excellence Framework

The OfS is responsible for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). Participation in the TEF will be a condition of registration with the OfS. The General Board anticipate that the University will participate in the 2019−20 exercise as the current Gold rating, awarded in 2017, will expire in 2020.

An independent review of the TEF is taking place during the 2018−19 academic year and will inform the assessment framework for 2019−20. The framework is expected to include a subject-level TEF and the University was one of 50 institutions1 selected by HEFCE to participate in a subject-level TEF pilot in 2017−18. Six subjects whose metrics fell below the University’s Gold standard were selected, with a further three, which were rated as Gold, chosen as benchmarks to test the impact of their methodology. As part of the pilot, additional teaching intensity measures were tested. This involved production of a provider declaration of contact hours and a student survey on student perception of contact hours. The University continues to engage with the OfS on the development of subject-level TEF, and to express concern about the use of National Student Survey data and other measures and subject groupings.

(iii) Other national consultations

The University submitted responses to the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s (QAA) consultation on the review of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. The University also submitted a detailed response to the government’s Review of Post-18 Education and Funding.2

3. Education and the learning environment

(i) Education Committee terms of reference

During the Easter Term 2018, the University approved changes to the governance arrangements for examinations and assessment. Responsibility for examination access arrangements and consideration of mitigating circumstances will now fall under the oversight of the Board. These responsibilities will be exercized by the Education Committee and a new Examinations and Assessment Sub-committee that was established on 1 October 2018.

In July 2018, the Board approved revised terms of reference for the Education Committee to reflect its broader role in the oversight of student affairs.

Following the Council’s review of the Careers Service, a new Careers Committee met for the first time in the Easter Term 2018. This has been established as a joint Committee of the General Board and the Council given the broad role of the Service in supporting students, postdoctoral workers, and alumni.

(ii) Public display of class-lists

In May 2018, the Board approved a scheme to allow students to opt out from the publication of their names in the class-lists published outside or read inside the Senate-House and also in the class-lists reproduced in the Reporter in print and online. The scheme was prompted by changes to data protection legislation arising from the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The new scheme was implemented for the main 2018 examination period. Over a third of enrolled students opted out of having their name included on the published class-lists. For most Triposes the proportion of exclusions from first-year students was higher than those in years two, three, or four. Of the 156 class-lists to be posted in the Easter Term 2018 only six were complete with no students opting out.

The Board’s Education Committee will consider more detailed data on the number of students opting out of class-lists when this information becomes available in the Michaelmas Term 2018. This will determine what further action, if any, should be recommended to the General Board and the Council.

(iii) Learning and teaching

In August 2018, the foundations for a sustainable staffing and operating model for the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning (CCTL) were put in place, with the transfer of the former Academic Practice Group from the Human Resources Division to the Academic Division. This followed a two-year trial period to develop a work programme and pilot a range of activities for Faculty and Departmental Directors of Teaching and Senior Tutors. Constituting the CCTL within the Academic Division represents an important next step in aligning the work programme of CCTL with the University’s strategic priorities for education.

The Board, through its Education Committee, agreed that the Computer Based Examinations pilot should run for a further year in 2018−19, and that the Lecture Capture Pilot should be deemed complete. A Project Board, chaired by the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor, has been established to implement lecture capture as a service across the University. A service model for wider lecture capture implementation has been agreed and the service delivery options will be explored during the Michaelmas Term 2018, with a final decision scheduled for March 2019. In the interim, lecture capture facilities will be installed in some central spaces during this academic year and will be available on a limited basis to any subject area teaching in those spaces.

(iv) Learning and Teaching Reviews

As part of the Board’s rolling programme of Learning and Teaching Reviews, the following Faculties and Departments were reviewed in 2017−18: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; Chemistry; Criminology; Earth Sciences; Mathematics; Pharmacology; Physics; and the Language Centre and Engineering Language Unit.

The Board, through its Education Committee, has approved a number of minor amendments to the procedure for Reviews for 2018−19 and the arrangements for appointment of reviewers, to improve the consistency of approach of review and to take account of other internal reviews as well as the review schedule of external bodies. The Committee will review the terms of reference for Learning and Teaching Reviews in 2018−19.

(v) Establishment of new degrees and courses

The Board agreed to establish ten new certificates/diplomas open to non-members of the University, including a new full-time International Pre-Master’s diploma (the Advanced Diploma in Research Theory and Practice in English (Engineering or Business Management)) to be offered by the Institute of Continuing Education.3

Two new M.Phil. courses, one in Heritage Studies and one in Therapeutic Science, an M.St. in Healthcare Data, and a new M.A.St. in Earth Sciences were also approved.

(vi) Overall degree classification

Following consultation with Faculty Boards and Colleges, the Board supported the establishment of a working group to develop detailed proposals for implementation of a scheme for overall classification of the B.A. (Hons) Degree. The Board, through its Education Committee, has endorsed proposals based on a standard scheme of degree classification with years one, two, and three weighted 0:30:70, but with scope for individual Faculty Boards to make a case for alternative schemes to be adopted.

A draft Report will be prepared for approval by the Council and the General Board in 2018−19 for the implementation of a scheme of overall degree classification for the B.A. (Hons) Degree.

(vii) Widening access and participation

The University submitted its access and participation plan for 2019−20 to the OfS. This document, which replaced the access agreement with the Office for Fair Access, covers the following undergraduate admissions targets: a state sector target of 64%; a target of 13% for students from POLAR34 quintiles 1 and 2 (i.e. the 40% of postcodes which have the lowest participation rates in higher education); a target of 13.9% for students from Output Area Classification (OAC) 3a–c, 4a1–2, 4b, 4c2, 6b3, 7a–c, and 8; a target of 8.5% for students from Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) deciles 1, 2, and 3; a minimum commitment to offer 600 places on summer schools each year; a non-continuation target of 2.1%; and a commitment to launch long-term outreach programmes to engage and raise attainment in secondary schools within the region.

The University has continued to lead a consortium of local universities (Anglia Ruskin University, the University of East Anglia, the University of Suffolk, and Norwich University of the Arts). The Consortium has been successful in securing £9m of HEFCE funding over two years to deliver the National Collaborative Outreach Programme in East Anglia. This programme aims to increase the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education by 2020. So far the partner institutions have engaged with over 7,400 target students through almost 1,600 activities, and is performing strongly against OfS objectives.

(viii) Student wellbeing and experience

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 HEFCE,5 UUK,6 and HEPI.7 Additionally, there is growing recognition that students with clinically recognized levels of mental health difficulties are studying at university in larger numbers.8

The University has seen significant increases in the numbers of applications for exam access arrangements, intermission, complaints, and appeals, and the Council’s Applications Committee9 reports that the number of exam allowances granted on the grounds of mental health, anxiety, and depression has more than doubled since 2013−14, rising from 192 to 473 in 2016−17. The Board of Examinations has also reported a doubling of the number of examination access arrangements made on the grounds of anxiety, depression, or other mental health difficulty from 132 in Easter Term 2014 to 274 in 2017. Colleges have also reported an increasing welfare caseload, and this trend has been mirrored in increased caseloads at the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and the University Counselling Service (UCS).

The DRC has seen an increase in numbers of students declaring a mental health condition of 46%, rising from 1,890 to 2,750 between July 2015 and February 2018. This means that each disability adviser now has a caseload of 575 disabled students, and equates to 126 students with mental health difficulties per adviser. Each adviser supports at least 260 more disabled students than they did in July 2015. This increase follows a steady rise over the last ten years, with numbers of students declaring a mental health disability increasing in this period by over 1,650% (from 35 students to 620).

In the past four years, the UCS has experienced a 34% increase in the number of students applying for support from 1,565 in 2013−2014 to 2,095 in 2016−2017. During the Michaelmas Term 2017 the Service was busier than ever, with a 15.5% increase in applications from 959 in Michaelmas Term 2016 to 1,108 (not counting those who applied for College-based counselling). Postgraduate students are disproportionately represented amongst the Service’s clients.

The collegiate University has acknowledged the growing need for student wellbeing provision and, in recognition of the significant increase in demand experienced by the DRC and UCS in recent years, has agreed funding for four additional posts within these services from October 2018 to support students experiencing mental health difficulties. However, there is also acknowledgment that increased need is unlikely to abate and therefore safeguarding the wellbeing of students requires greater focus on developing preventative strategies and action to institute wider cultural change in order to foster the long-term wellbeing of the Cambridge community. For this to be effective, a whole collegiate University approach needs to be taken that will involve students, academics, administrators, and support staff alike.

The Education Committee, therefore, is overseeing development of a Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy to address concerns across the collegiate University and the sector with regard to increasing levels of poor mental health and wellbeing within the student body. The Strategy will set out a vision for a whole institution approach to creating an academic environment that enables all students to flourish. The Strategy proposes an action plan based on three key strands of work:

A research study to collect qualitative and quantitative data to highlight the problem areas to be addressed and to support evaluation of future preventative and supportive interventions;

A wellbeing campaign supported by facilitated discussion groups with staff and student members drawn from diverse backgrounds across the collegiate University;

A deep-dive ‘system analysis’ of existing support provision across the collegiate University to explore interconnectivity, efficacy, and efficiency of support to inform future service improvement.

(ix) Student conduct and complaints

Industrial action led to the General Board approving a temporary additional ground to the Examination Review Procedure so that the University could consider whether the withdrawal of academic provision had an impact on students’ academic results. Thirteen students requested a review of their examination results on this ground. So far none has been upheld; three requests remain ongoing.

General Board revisions to the University-wide statement on Plagiarism specifically include ‘self-plagiarism’. From 1 October 2018, ‘self-plagiarism’ will be subject to disciplinary action alongside other forms of academic misconduct, including plagiarism and collusion, except where it is explicitly permitted by regulation.

Following the approval of the recommendations of last year’s Joint Report on Procedures for Student Complaints and Reviews and Joint Report for the Procedure for Handling Cases of Student Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, the revised procedures have now been embedded through briefings and guidance. The revisions have resulted in a predicted increase in the number of cases. Further details will be reported to the General Board through annual reporting mechanisms. Informal reviews of the revised procedures have been conducted and this has led to the General Board approving further amendments to the newly named Procedure for Student Harassment and Sexual Misconduct, including the removal of a three-month timeframe for reporting harassment and sexual misconduct. Investigation of reports of sexual misconduct will also move (cost-neutrally) from being investigated by an external provider to an internal specialist investigator; recruitment for the role will take place in Michaelmas Term 2018. The General Board and the Council approved a Joint Report on revisions to Special Ordinance D (v) concerning precautionary action to include the option of assessment by an external specialist when assessing the risk that a student may pose during a criminal, University, or College investigation. The recommendations of that Joint Report were approved by Grace 2 of 17 October 2018.

The collaborative project, match-funded by HEFCE, regarding student-facing support and prevention of sexual misconduct has taken place and been evaluated. The outputs of the project were positive and the evaluation has led to a number of recommendations for improvement in the next academic year. There has also been a review of the anonymous reporting mechanism, which has seen over 300 reports of harassment and sexual misconduct since May 2017. A number of minor revisions have been made to the tool during the year in light of GDPR and to ensure that it is also appropriate for reports of harassment and discrimination other than sexual misconduct.

(x) Additional course costs for postgraduate study

The Board’s Education Committee is consulting Schools on options for managing the additional course costs associated with postgraduate study. The Committee is particularly interested to explore the funding arrangements for mandatory project-related or programme costs. Options may include introducing a new fee band or bands that will raise additional resource to defray these course costs and enhance the funding packages available to students.

(xi) Surveys

(a) Graduate Outcomes Survey and Longitudinal Educational Outcomes

The Education Committee continues to monitor the employment of Cambridge graduates. The Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey has been replaced by the Graduate Outcomes Survey. Unlike the DLHE, which was run locally, the new survey will be centrally managed by HESA. Under the new Graduate Outcomes Survey, students would be contacted fifteen months after leaving Cambridge, much later than under the DLHE. The Graduate Outcomes Survey, as well as the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO), will be included in the metrics used by TEF.

(b) National Student Survey 2018

As in 2017, the 2018 National Student Survey (NSS) response rate was impacted by CUSU’s boycott of the survey. As a result, incomplete data have been published on the Unistats website. It is still unclear what the impact of incomplete NSS data will be on future iterations of the TEF.

The Student Barometer Survey took place in the Michaelmas Term 2017. Overall satisfaction ratings for postgraduate taught and postgraduate research students compared favourably with Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey findings in previous years. Results have been made available to Faculties and Departments, and to Colleges.

From 2018, NSS and Student Barometer data will be made available to members of the University through a new information hub managed by the Business Information Team in the Finance Division.10 The hub will include examinations statistics as well as data on student numbers.

(xii) Education Strategy

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, working through the Board’s Education Committee, is developing an Education Strategy to reflect the collegiate University’s values and priorities for education, both as a statement to the wider public audience and as a reference point for internal discussions and activity. The Education Strategy will identify strategic objectives and include an action plan. It will draw together emerging strategies for the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning, digital education, education space, examinations and assessment, continuing education, health and wellbeing, support for disabled students, sports/library provision, and careers and employability. An initial draft will be presented to the Education Committee in the Michaelmas Term 2018.

4. Research

(i) Research income

The University has improved its performance in research income in 2017−18, with income at record levels in excess of £520 million. While the research funding environment continued to be highly competitive, the University maintained its strong performance in winning research funding from UK, EU, and international sources. The change to accounting rules due to FRS102 produced anomalous results for 2015–16 and a spike in income. However, the general trajectory demonstrates that Cambridge continues to improve compared to its peers. It should be noted that some of the University’s recent growth is due to acquisition but otherwise Cambridge has enjoyed modest increases in funding from the Research Councils and charities.


(ii) Research landscape and partnerships

There have been a number of significant developments in UK research funding including the launch of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in April 2018. UKRI has overseen the continuing trend of major research programmes including the establishment of national research institutes, the University’s most recent successes including the Cambridge hub of Health Data Research UK led by the Sanger Institute and in collaboration with EBI, and a major award from the Faraday Institute for research in battery technology. The year has seen renewal of the MRC Metabolic Disease, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics Units, the legal transfer into the University of the Toxicology Unit,11 and the renewal of the core funding of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences. Major awards have also been received in the international development sphere including major grants under the UKRI global challenges research funding in food security and public health, while the Sainsbury Laboratory has received a major award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in plant sciences. The University has also received strategic funding from Innovate UK to act as the hub for the Digital Built Britain programme.

(iii) Strategic research reviews

The Board can report good progress on the delivery of the programme of Strategic Research Reviews. A total of fourteen reviews were undertaken in 2017−18.12 The programme of reviews has now been completed in two Schools (Arts and Humanities and the Physical Sciences) and the remaining reviews are scheduled to be completed in Lent Term 2018−19. A number of common themes are emerging from the Reviews held to date including strategic planning of research, the challenges for Faculties and Departments to manage demographic pressures and change, and some concern that while the quality of research at Cambridge is high there are emerging risks regarding the longer-term sustainability of research at the University. The Board will receive a report summarizing the overarching conclusions of the review programme in Easter Term 2018−19.

(iv) Strategic research initiatives and networks

The University’s programme of Strategic Research Initiatives (SRIs) and Networks has continued to provide a key focus to build critical mass in multidisciplinary research expertise from across the Schools. The Research Policy Committee (RPC) is continuing to support the transition of successful SRIs to University Interdisciplinary Research Centres, and RPC has approved the establishment of a new SRI in Reproduction from 2018−19. The University’s SRI Programme has recently been highlighted as an example of best practice in a Wellcome Trust report13 on the use of Research England Quality Research funding.

(v) Preparations for the Research Excellence Framework 2021

The Board has continued to oversee preparations for the University’s submission to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. Significant developments include the appointment of the Chairs of all of the local Unit of Assessment (UoA) Committees, the identification of a group of eight experienced senior staff as Academic Leads to support the work of the UoA Chairs, and the appointment of professional and administrative support staff to facilitate the REF submission within the central REF Office and at School level. The University has also participated in the sector-wide consultation with Research England on the procedures for REF2021 including, for example, consideration of public engagement with research in impact case studies. The University held its first internal Public Engagement Conference to provide an opportunity for public engagement specialist staff to network with colleagues across Cambridge. The Conference had external speakers from Research England and the National Centre for Coordination of Public Engagement and was attended by over 80 staff.

(vi) Research integrity

The Board has overseen the ongoing process of implementation of revised policies and procedures that are required to ensure full compliance with the requirements of HEFCE and other funding agencies. The Board has also participated in the recent House of Commons Select Committee enquiry into research integrity. In accordance with the requirements of the Research Integrity Concordat, the University has published its fourth Annual Statement on Research Integrity.14

5. External and international engagement

(i) The Strategic Partnerships Office

The University has established the new Strategic Partnerships Office (SPO) and appointed a new Director to lead the office. The Office aims to enable greater coordination of the University’s key international and corporate partnerships, enhancing the visibility of these partnerships and supporting their ongoing development and management.

(ii) International strategy

The existing framework for the University’s international engagement has been reviewed by the International Strategy Committee (ISC) and consideration given to the emerging challenges and opportunities facing the University in the international sphere. It was decided that the SPO would help develop a new international strategy for consideration by the ISC and the General Board in 2018−19. This will be developed by the SPO with direction from the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, and the Heads of School.

At the request of the Vice-Chancellor, a working group chaired by the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor was formed in November 2017 to consider the University’s strategic response to the potential outcomes of the Brexit negotiations. A report was produced and considered by the Council in June 2018. The Collegiate Cambridge Brexit Strategy Group chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations has been established to take forward the recommendations. The EU Working Group, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, continues to focus on Brexit-related operational matters.

Specific developments of note during 2017–18 were as follows:

Europe: The University of Cambridge and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) announced plans for a strategic partnership between the two institutions in May 2018. The purpose of the partnership is to build on existing collaborations in Munich and Germany and provide focus and profile to the University’s work in the country; to develop a strong ally in Europe as Brexit approaches; to stimulate innovation in teaching and research; and to enhance the mobility of students and staff. Each institution will provide up to €200,000 per year over five years (2019−2023) and may prolong this commitment by mutual agreement.

MaxCam: The Max Planck-Cambridge Centre of Ethics, Economy and Social Change was launched in March 2018 at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Centre will pursue ethnographic research in fields of urgent concern to humanity today.

CamPo: CamPo is a new seed-funding scheme to encourage collaboration between the University and Sciences Po, the leading social sciences institution in France. Launched in Paris in November 2017, its first call opened in Easter Term 2018, and will provide funding to seven projects.

India: The TIGR2ESS research programme (Transforming India’s Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable Food Supplies) was launched in New Delhi in February 2018, in the presence of the Vice-Chancellor and Professor Ashutosh Sharma, then Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. The programme brings together 26 partner institutions in the UK and India to define the requirements for a second Green Revolution in India, set the necessary policy agenda, and develop a collaborative research programme focused on sustainable crop production and sustainable resource use.

Africa: The Africa Strategy Working Group, established in the Michaelmas Term 2017 at the behest of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations, performed an extensive consultation of internal and external stakeholders to consider the University’s current and future engagement with African partners. The Working Group completed its work in July 2018, and submitted its recommendations to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations for consideration by the relevant committees.

China: In March 2018, the Vice-Chancellor signed an agreement for a strategic partnership with the Nanjing Municipal Government. The creation of the Cambridge University-Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation will entail the establishment of a joint research centre and the sharing of revenue derived from the commercialization of intellectual property. Funded by Nanjing Municipality for five years in the first instance, the project will have its own dedicated building in Nanjing’s Jiangbei New Area. The project has been driven by Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, although it is hoped that there will be opportunities to widen participation to other Departments and Schools.

(iii) International networks

The University of Cambridge has been an active member of a number of valuable networks, including:

A range of Russell Group Networks, such as the EU Advisory Group and International Forum

• The League of European Research Universities (LERU)

• The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU)

These networks have provided a valuable source of information, useful fora for developing institutional relationships, and mechanisms for influencing UK, European, and international governmental bodies. This has been of particular value in the run-up to Brexit.

6. Human resources − academic staff

The General Board oversees Human Resource matters relating to academic staff through the Human Resources Committee, a joint Committee of the Council and the General Board.

(i) People Strategy

In 2017 the University launched the People Strategy, a clear statement about how the University values and treats its people and the culture it wishes to foster to achieve and sustain excellence in teaching, research, and administration. The first HR Division annual report was published in September 2017 alongside a work plan for 2017–18, consisting of fifteen strategic projects to support the People Strategy under the core themes of Recruitment, Talent Management, Reward, and Thriving and Inclusive Environment.

(ii) Academic staff recruitment

Following a review of academic appointments, new arrangements for academic recruitment have been introduced. These include the creation of Selection Committees in place of Appointments Committees to enable institutions to recruit to academic posts in a timely and flexible manner whilst ensuring academic standards are maintained. The arrangements also establish a set of Recruitment Key Principles representing good practice within the University and ensuring a positive experience for candidates. In support of these changes a new recruitment training programme was rolled out successfully during the Lent Term 2018.

(iii) Talent management – academic practice

In tandem with its work on teaching and learning, the Personal and Professional Development’s Academic Practice Group further extended its portfolio of activities for postgraduate students and postdoctoral research staff under the banner of the Researcher Development Programme (RDP). Demand has continued to rise sharply: overall, there has been a 30% year-on-year increase in the number of face-to-face courses delivered by RDP, and a 254% increase in enrolments for the online learning suite.

Researcher development remains a collaborative, multidisciplinary endeavour across the collegiate University, largely directed and funded by the Researcher Development Executive. The endeavour encompasses, inter alia, postgraduate education teams in the Schools, the postdoc Careers Service, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs – to which the RDP team principally contributes its educational development expertise and operational support.

(iv) Mandatory gender pay reporting

In March 2018, the University reported its mandatory gender pay gap information. The overall mean gender pay gap for the University was 19.6% and the median 15%. To support the publication of the gender pay gap report, the University produced a companion website, Inclusive Cambridge ( The aim of the website is to provide all members of the University with practical information and resources to help embed practices designed to reduce the gap.

As a result of the mandatory gender pay reporting, a Gender Pay Operational Group was formed. This group has identified the following key actions:

Enhanced pay progression schemes

A working group has reviewed all aspects of the non-academic pay progression schemes and proposed changes based on participant feedback, analysis and input from Schools.

Professional career pathways and career development programme

Work is already well under way to develop an academic career pathways; however, a significant gap remains for professional staff where there is a much wider range of roles. The identification and promotion of structured professional career pathways will better support career progression at Cambridge, in particular for women where progression is under-represented.

Line manager education

Line managers have a vital role in tackling the gender pay gap and promoting gender equality. To support line managers in this task, a professional line management training programme is under development in consultation with institutions, with streams for both academic and professional roles.

(v) Equality and diversity

The Breaking the Silence prevention of sexual misconduct and harassment campaign was launched in October 2017. The campaign reached over 60,000 hits on Facebook and 40,000 on Twitter, local and national press, TV and radio coverage. Alongside a range of student-focused initiatives, this cultural change programme included a programme for staff.

Work is underway to develop the University’s Race Equality Charter application, due in July 2019. The main issues revealed by University-wide data analysis relate to staff recruitment, representation, and career progression and culture.

The University submitted its application for an Athena SWAN silver award as planned and was given an extension of its present silver award for a year with an invitation to reapply in 2019. Direct support has also been provided to the Schools and institutions that have submitted Athena SWAN applications during 2017−18.

Cultural change events held in 2017−18 included the Annual Race Lecture and Black History Month, Holocaust Memorial Day, International Women’s Day, the WiSETI Lecture, and Diversity Network events aimed at supporting the inclusion of University members.

(vi) Staff wellbeing

Wellbeing initiatives during 2017−18 specifically focused on the priority areas of mental health awareness and managing work demands. Initiatives delivered with the support of the Health and Wellbeing Operations Group included:

Setting up a network of 90 trained institutional Wellbeing Advocates to provide a key local point of contact for staff, and to build mental health awareness and promote wellbeing;

Launching the WellCAM website providing a range of information on training, events, and employee support;

Taking over 1,200 bookings for the annual Festival of Wellbeing 2018, which ran successfully for two weeks from 25 June 2018.

(vii) Postdoctoral affairs

In 2017−18, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPdA) saw another substantial increase in its activities, significantly enhancing the opportunities for broader development and engagement for postdoctoral research staff. The opening of the new Postdoc Centre at Eddington, where just under 70% of residents so far are postdocs, provides a flagship facility for the postdoc community. The Postdoc Centres at Mill Lane and the Biomedical Campus continue to flourish and demonstrate the value of these facilities. Across all Centres 854 events were held.

Regular postdoc inductions continued to provide an important introduction to the support available for new staff with contributions from multiple services. The mentoring programme supported 66 mentees this year and is being developed to meet demand for mentors in industry. The Postdocs2Innovators programme, an international collaboration of HEIs and companies aimed at developing entrepreneurial mindset and awareness among researchers was cited as an example of an innovative initiative by the League of European Research Universities. OPdA has also focused this year on improving provision of and access to training specifically for postdocs provided by other University offices (Research Office, Public Engagement, Scholarly Communication, Cambridge Enterprise).

To complement this work and the provision of the Researcher Development Programme, the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning, the Careers Service, and other services, OPdA developed its Fellowship model with a strong emphasis on leadership and entrepreneurship development and training. This provides structured support for outstanding researchers and future leaders to develop their skills and networks, and to optimize the opportunity of independent research.

OPdA continued to engage nationally to highlight the University’s innovative approach to supporting postdoc staff, share good practice, and shape the wider policy landscape, notably this year in contributing to the review of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.

7. Health, Safety, and Regulated Facilities

(i) Occupational Health and Safety Service

The Occupational Health and Safety Service (OHSS) is within the Division of Health, Safety, and Regulated Facilities and consists of the Safety Office (SO), Occupational Health Service (OHS), and the Staff Counselling Service (SCS). The OHSS continues to prioritize the provision of risk-focused support services, helping to ensure that the University’s operations remain compliant while identifying areas for improvement by regular auditing, inspection, and review, with ongoing reporting to the Consultative Committee for Safety, the Health and Safety Executive Committee, and the Human Resources Committee.

(ii) Occupational Health Service

As reported in 2016−17, the Occupational Health Service has continued to experience an increase in the number of management and self-referrals of University staff requiring appointments (+8.5% for 2017−18). More frequently, referrals are due to more complex health issues that require additional work activity outside of the clinic schedule, e.g., liaising with Departments/HR and other medical and specialist providers. This referral activity, combined with appointments for statutory health surveillance associated with workplace hazards and an increased demand for training sessions, is having a significant impact on service delivery. This continues to present a challenge in relation to resources and the ability of the Service to provide more proactive services in relation to ill-health prevention training, interventions, and initiatives.

(iii) Staff Counselling Service

Demand for the Staff Counselling Service has increased 7% from the 2016−2017 academic year. The newly formed College Counselling Service, launched during the Lent Term 2018, accounted for an additional 4% based on a chargeable, cost recovery business model. Temporary locum staff have been appointed to meet this increase in demand. An application for additional resources to cover University staff requirements will be put forward in the next planning round.

There is a direct correlation between SCS staff numbers and waiting times. For the first half of the reporting year when staff resources were reduced, the waiting time for an Initial Consultation was 16 days, reducing in the second half of the year, when staffing levels were increased, to 8.7 days. Likewise, the waiting time for ongoing counselling sessions started the year on 63 days, falling to 49 days for the latter period. The SCS service provision expectation is a 52-day waiting time. A reduced waiting time is a priority of the Service, aimed at preventing staff from entering a phase of sickness absence or, where they are already absent, helping them to return to the workplace.

Of the 636 referrals during the year, 63 were ‘Red Flagged’ for clients with complex psychological needs; including those considered a ‘danger to themselves or others’, victims of domestic abuse, or those raising child protection concerns. This growing cohort proves particularly challenging as well as time-consuming for the Service.

In order further to manage the waiting times, the SCS has implemented two counselling groups, ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘Stress and Anxiety Management’. These groups have proved popular and are well-attended. Counselling staff have also provided 9 training sessions through PPD on ‘Managing Stress and Developing Strategies to build Personal Resilience’. These sessions are now being incorporated into the University’s WellCAM initiative.15

Demand for both counselling and outreach work remains high. There is a growing awareness of the Staff Counselling Service following the staff mental health and WellCAM initiatives, and a continuing depletion of external resources through the NHS and voluntary organizations, leading people to seek support from their employer for mental health issues previously covered by NHS services. This is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. However, the SCS is clear that it is not a primary care provider for mental health issues and sign-posts accordingly.

(iv) The Safety Office

The Safety Office continued to monitor and manage health and safety compliance across all sectors of the University via its auditing and inspection schedule, provision of professional advice, accident and incident monitoring, policy review and development, administration of the Health and Safety Committee structure, and a comprehensive training programme. The Office has recently undergone restructuring with the retirement of two senior members of staff. This has provided opportunities to progress current staff on their career path and to create new opportunities for involvement in auditing, and the development of procedures for risk assessment for travelling abroad – an area of risk management requiring significant additional resource in recent years. Following the introduction of new policies and procedures for staff and student study and research abroad, the SO provides advice, support, and training for individuals visiting areas that are ‘high risk’, using an external specialized travel risk company when required.

Contracts held by OHSS for specialized services, including hazardous waste disposal, were renewed on the basis of continued high quality service to Departments, assured compliance with statutory requirements, and value for money. This has more recently included contracts with specialized security advisers in support of the University Policy to Safeguard Students Studying and Working Away.16 The Safety Office is to reinstate the provision of portable equipment electrical safety testing for non-scientific departments following the appointment of a replacement Electrical Safety Technician, following a period of this work being undertaken by an external contractor at increased cost. The provision of chargeable services to Colleges continues, although staff number reductions have required this to be limited in scope.

8. Planning and resource allocation

The General Board oversees planning and resource allocation matters through the Planning and Resources Committee, a joint Committee of the Council and the General Board. In order to reduce repetition between the two reports, further detail on the University’s resources is provided in the Annual Report of the Council in 2017−18, and is submitted on behalf of the Council and the General Board (p. 184).

9. Other

(i) New Professorships

The Board proposed the establishment or re-establishment of the following senior positions, in some cases supported by generous benefactions or other external funds:

Professorship of Media and Culture

McDonald Professorship of Paleoproteomics

Professorship of Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Professorship of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

NHSBT Professorship of Donor Health

MRC Professorship of Toxicology

MRC Professorship of Cognitive Brain Sciences

Genzyme Professorship of Experimental Medicine

ARUK Professorship of Rheumatology

DeepMind Professorship of Machine Learning

Health Foundation Professorship of Healthcare Improvement Studies

Professorship of Theoretical Physics

RAND Professorship of Health Services Research

31 October 2018

Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor

Matthew Kite

Sofia Ropek-Hewson

Philip Allmendinger

Patrick Maxwell

Helen Thompson

Abigail Fowden

Martin Millett

Graham Virgo

A. L. Greer

Richard Prager

Mark Wormald

Nicholas Holmes

Richard Rex