Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6555

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Vol cxlix No 37

pp. 795–815

Report of Discussion

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

A Discussion was held in the Senate-House. Deputy Vice‑Chancellor Mr Roger Mosey was presiding, with the Registrary's deputy, the Senior Pro-Proctor, the Junior Pro‑Proctor and four other persons present.

The following items were discussed:

First-stage Report of the Council, dated 12 June 2019, on the construction of the National Centre for Propulsion and Power and re-development of the Whittle Laboratory

(Reporter, 6551, 2018–19, p. 684).

Professor R. J. Miller (Director of the Whittle Laboratory, Department of Engineering, and Gonville and Caius College):

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, decarbonisation of the propulsion and power sectors is one of the greatest challenges facing society. Electricity generation is responsible for around 25% of CO2 emissions and aviation around 2%, and growing. The Whittle Laboratory is playing an internationally leading role in meeting this challenge. The Lab is working on radical new technologies for significantly reducing CO2 emissions. These include the development of electric and hybrid-electric aircraft, the generation of power from low-grade heat, tidal power and the development of hydrogen-based engines. The Whittle Laboratory is also working on reducing the CO2 emissions of current technologies. These include improving the design of wind turbines and developing the technologies which underpin Rolls-Royce's UltraFan engine, the next generation of jet engines, enabling CO2 emissions reductions of 25% by 2025.

Cambridge has a long tradition in the propulsion and power sectors. In 1884 Charles Parsons, of St John's College, invented the steam turbine. Today his technology generates over 80% of the world's electricity. In 1937 Frank Whittle, of Peterhouse, ran the first jet engine. Today, most of the world's aircraft are powered by jet engines. Over the last fifty years the Whittle Laboratory has built on this heritage, partnering with Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Siemens. These strong industrial partnerships have ensured that the Whittle Laboratory is the world's most academically successful propulsion and power research laboratory, winning nine of the last thirteen Gas Turbine Awards, the most prestigious prize in the field, awarded annually by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers since 1963. No other laboratory has come close to this record.

Over the last few decades the Whittle Laboratory has developed hundreds of technologies that have driven down CO2 emissions. It is worth illustrating this with one simple example. In 1997 the Whittle Laboratory developed the concept of three-dimensional compressor blade design. This design philosophy is now used in all of Rolls-Royce's engines globally. Between 2008 and 2013 this technology alone reduced CO2 emissions by 460,000 tonnes, reducing fuel burn by $145 million. This is just one of many technologies which the Whittle Laboratory has developed.

The challenge of decarbonisation is resulting in a transformational change in the propulsion and power sectors. For small and medium-sized aircraft, electrification offers the possibility of starting to fully decarbonise aviation. For small aircraft there are now over seventy companies globally who are planning a first flight of electric air vehicles by 2024. For medium-sized aircraft, the Singapore government has announced the first flight of their prototype 'Element One' hydrogen fuel cell aircraft by 2025. For larger aircraft, no alternative currently exists to the jet engine. However, radical new aircraft architectures developed by the Cambridge-MIT Silent Aircraft Initiative and the NASA N+3 project show the possibility of reducing CO2 emissions from aviation by around 70%.

At the Whittle Laboratory we believe the only way to meet the challenge posed by decarbonisation is to significantly reduce the time required to develop new technologies – it's just that urgent. Over the last five years the Whittle Laboratory's primary focus has been to radically transform the UK propulsion and power technology development process making it at least ten times faster and ten times cheaper. We believe that 'injecting pace and simplicity' into technology development is key to the UK meeting the challenge of decarbonisation.

The solution, we believe, is to merge the digital and physical systems involved in the technology development process to 'tighten the circle' between design, manufacture and testing of ideas.

We have found that when the technology development time-scale approaches the human time-scale, around a week, innovation explodes.

To achieve this, three elements are required:

1.Design times for the new technology have been reduced by a factor of 100. This has been achieved by predicting the flow around a blade in minutes using codes running on graphics cards, developed for the computer gaming industry. This enables augmented and machine learning based design systems.

2.Manufacturing times for the new technology have also been reduced by about a factor of 100. This has been achieved by directly linking the design systems to rows of in-house machine tools, allowing designers to realise new concepts in days.

3.Testing times have been reduced by a factor of over 100. This has been achieved by undertaking a careful value stream analysis and using it to remove around 95% of operations from the testing process. Reducing testing times in some cases from three months to fifteen minutes.

To take full advantage of this agile technology development process a different way of working is required. To achieve this, small, Formula 1 style, autonomous teams of industrial designers and academics have been co-located in the Whittle Lab.

In September 2017 this resulted in a trial of the new method. A team was embedded in the Whittle and given four Rolls-Royce technologies to develop (two from Rolls-Royce UK, one from Rolls-Royce US and one from the Whittle Lab). The results were astonishing. In 2005 a similar trial took the Whittle two years, and we weren't bad at it. In 2017, the agile testing method took less than a week, demonstrating a factor of 100 improvement in time and cost.

Based on these trials the UK government's Aerospace Technology Institute, Cambridge, Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi, Siemens and Dyson have committed the investment necessary to build a new National Centre for Propulsion and Power in Cambridge, and the industrial partners have committed to funding research within that Centre. The National Centre has the aim of scaling this agile testing capability to around 80% of the UK's future need for decarbonisation.

The National Centre will be located adjacent to the existing Whittle Laboratory on the West Cambridge site. In addition, the proposed development includes an upgrade to the current Whittle Laboratory involving the building of new offices and workshops. Central to the new development will be a Propulsion and Power Challenge Space. This space will allow teams from across the University to co-locate with industry with the aim of developing the technologies necessary to decarbonise the propulsion and power sector. The development is integrated closely with the University's Carbon Neutral Futures Initiative.

We are at a pivotal moment, both in terms of Cambridge's history of leading technology development in propulsion and power, and in terms of humanity's need to decarbonise the propulsion and power sectors. The Whittle Laboratory has demonstrated a unique international capability and, in partnership with the Aerospace Technology Institute, Rolls-Royce, Mitsubishi, Siemens, and Dyson, this has been developed into a world-leading project. We either do what Cambridge has always done, and step up to the challenge, or we allow our legacy, based on the work of Frank Whittle and Charles Parsons, to wither and die.

Just as fifty years ago, at the opening of the current Whittle Laboratory, Cambridge and its industrial partners faced the challenge of making the dream of mass air travel a reality, I believe that today the new Whittle Lab project will ensure that Cambridge, and its industrial partners, will lead the challenge of decarbonising the world's propulsion and power sectors.

Mr M. Llavero Pasquina (Girton College) read by the Senior Pro-Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I believe Regent House, the Council and the Planning and Resources Committee are woefully uninformed to take the decision to approve this project. Or this Report is utterly misleading.

The proposed National Centre for Propulsion and Power is almost certainly going to become a hub for the University to collaborate and be complicit with the arms and defence industry. The principal source of funds, and the main national institution behind the proposal, is the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI). The usual project lead partners at ATI are major national and international defence companies well known by the public: Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Honeywell, Leonardo, Qinetiq, MBDA, Thales, Meggitt, Sigmatex, to name just but a few of them.1

It is also especially suspicious that the identity of the 'industrial partners' providing £2m towards the project is not revealed. I would be surprised if they are not one of the above list. The Whittle Laboratory already highlights Rolls Royce in its webpage as one of their main partners.2

Many members of the University might be enthusiastic about the University engaging with industrial partners and enhancing technology transfer. But the Report is completely misleading in obliterating that this technology could be well used for the development of military bombers and killer drones, an extent to which, I would hope most University members would strongly disapprove.

To me, the most distasteful part of the Report is the disguised justification given for the project that the National Centre for Propulsion and Power will contribute to decarbonise propulsion. I believe this is – potentially – a shameless greenwash of war and military operations.

I have been campaigning for Climate Justice at this University around the clock for three years. The same ideals lead me to firmly oppose any complicity of the University with the arms industry and the military. Climate Justice is about the defense of the freedom and rights of the most vulnerable people and families, especially those in the Global South, people of colour, women and poor people. Both climate violence and war violence sustain a neocolonial world-order that ensures the luxury of western societies and their allied ruling elites in authoritarian developing countries, at the expense of the most basic rights and dignity of the world poor and marginalised. Both war and extractivism must end, and there is no justification for the University to be an accomplice of this system of oppression.

I urge University Council to:

1.Clarify which industrial partners are going to provide funding for the project;

2.Disclose any agreements, proposals or grant applications with the ATI specifying which research interests are going to be pursued;

3.Guarantee to the Regent House that none of the research and technology developed at the proposed Centre is going to lead to military use. And guarantee that none of the industrial partners is going to have a significant commercial interest in military products and services;

4.Explain to the Regent House which procedures are going to be in place to ensure the transparent and accountable enforcement of a non-military-use rule for the proposed Centre.

If Council fails to be clear and transparent in the real objectives of the project, I urge members of Regent House to use their powers to oppose the Grace, call for a ballot and campaign for a non placet vote.

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

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am a member of the Council and the Finance Committee, but I speak in a personal capacity. I was one of the members of the Council who did not sign this Report. I fear also that my speech will be less inspirational than the first and less political than the second, but it is on financial matters.

The case for this project was approved by the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC) at its meeting on 22 May 2019. Earlier in that meeting there had been an extensive discussion of the Capital Expenditure Budget, where it was noted that a

report to the Finance Committee – which was intended as the first stage of an iterative process to improve the quality and accuracy of the University's financial projections – indicated that the University's unrestricted liquid resources, likely to be available for forward discretionary commitment over the next 5 years, would be of the order of ~£80m. Not all – if any – of this would be available for further investment in major building projects.

This report had arisen, in part, because of a robust discussion (of which I was part) of the 'Capital Envelope' at the Finance Committee meeting of 9 January 2019. At that meeting it was noted that

the 'Capital Fund' which financed the University's operational capital expenditure programme, had been operating as an 'overdraft' for an extended period and required recalibration, based on forward academic priorities, the University's other necessary operational investments, and affordability (consistent with the University's projected ten-year cash flows).

To my mind the key figure in the Finance Committee report to bear in mind is the relatively low figure of £80m of unrestricted liquid resources. It was noted at the PRC that this report 'included significant contingencies and provisions, in recognition of a number of external risks and challenges', and hence some members of the PRC argued that all capital expenditure (capex) should not come to a dead stop. However, other members 'felt that the outlook was so uncertain that the University should be extremely cautious and make only very modest additional commitments' while others

were concerned that the University's overall strategic priorities were insufficiently clear to allow PRC to take decisions about its most urgent priorities for capital expenditure on buildings.

I agree that that there should not be a total moratorium on capex, and for that reason I have signed a Report on a Heart and Lung Research Institute (HLRI) which will include an allocation of £5m (plus an additional underwriting of £13.3m) from the Capital Fund. However, there is a need to be prudent, given that there are other needs that are clear and increasingly urgent, e.g. there is a requirement to remove museum collections from the failing Atlas Building, there are requirements for investments in IT infrastructure and systems (most notably a replacement finance system), and there are required investments to directly support and enable teaching and research. Given that the contingencies are likely to be eaten away by the outcome of the Augar Report, and possibly by increased contributions to USS, and maybe even pay increases, the £80m, now reduced to £75m (if not less), needs to be spent wisely. Indeed, the PRC agreed that the altogether greater clarity resulting from the analysis prepared for Finance Committee should form the

basis for a clear communication explaining the absolute limits on the University's ability to commit in the near-term to significant additional capital expenditure on buildings.

Yet, later in that same meeting the PRC agreed to allocate £5m, but potentially £18.5m, to the HLRI, and £5m, but potentially £28.5m (although £10m is hoped to be raised from external sources), to the Whittle Laboratory. In the worst-case scenario that's £47m of the £80m, and in the best-case scenario it is £23.5m of the £80m (i.e. 30%).

In recent years the University has been on a spending spree; e.g. £180m for animal houses, £48m for the Student Services Centre (SSC), £17m for the Library's Off-site Storage, £41m for the West Cambridge Shared Facilities Hub and up to £170m of the £320m cost of Cavendish III. The potential lost interest on that expenditure is of the order of £20m p.a., which when combined with the £10m p.a. contribution that the University is making to the Eddington development, would account for a large proportion of the projected deficits in the Allocation Report which will subsequently be Discussed today. Let me be clear, I was not against all the aforementioned expenditure, and I signed many, but not all, of the Reports. However, the reserves built up over many years (how many I do not know, since my repeated questions have resulted in no answer) have mainly been spent. Austerity on capex was overdue and has now arrived.

Four and a half years ago I argued in this house that the Report on the SSC (cost then £39m) should not be approved. I noted that much work had been done on the SSC and that in a perfect world with unlimited resources it made sense, but in the real world of austerity and make do, the development should have been put on hold until the funding was in place to make it possible. To my mind insufficient ducks were lined up, and one of the motivations of the Capital Plan had been to ensure that they were. Specifically I argued that the University should ensure that it has the correctly prioritised funds before embarking on a journey. Given where the University now is, as regards unrestricted liquid resources, my unease was justified.

As a result, I do not think that this Report should be approved in its current form. The University needs to cut its cloth according to its situation. In the PRC Minutes the importance of maximising the external funding towards this project (which might not be too hard given its 'green' flavouring), and reducing so far as possible the call on the Capital Fund, is noted. Further, it is also noted that the

Committee's previous agreement to underwrite the project could not be accepted without challenge in light of the further constraints on capital expenditure identified in [the Finance Committee report].

Where I disagree with the PRC is that the challenge should have been successful. The level of underwriting requested to fund the full development of the Whittle Laboratory is too high, and cannot be afforded.

To me the key quote from the aforementioned PRC Minutes is as follows:

In principle, the experimental facilities funded by ATI could be hosted in more modest accommodation; …

That is the option that should now be pursued. When the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS) was constructed twenty years ago, it was built in phases because of funding issues. The second phase of three pavilions is where my office is, with the result that I spent two to three more years in less shiny accommodation on the Old Press site than some of my colleagues. The Whittle Laboratory similarly needs to be phased. The PRC Minutes continue from the above quote to state

this would be unlikely to achieve planning permission, however, given the local planning authority's expectations for a substantial 'point of arrival' at the eastern entrance to the West Cambridge site.

Let the University test if 'unlikely' means 'no'. When the CMS was built, there was unwise and unnecessary expenditure on a gatehouse (which, when it opened, had a lift with nine buttons for a two-storey building); I am no friend of substantial 'points of arrival'.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor allowed Professor Miller, Director of the Whittle Laboratory, to make a remark in response to a previous contribution:

Professor R. J. Miller (Director of the Whittle Laboratory, Department of Engineering, and Gonville and Caius College):

I can assure the Regent House that the Whittle Lab is not undertaking military research. In fact, the majority of the research has the direct objective of reducing CO2 emissions. The academics, research staff and students in the Whittle Lab are all very passionate about their commitment to decarbonise the propulsion and power sectors.

Report of the General Board, dated 5 June 2019, on Senior Academic Promotions

(Reporter, 6551, 2018–19, p. 686).

Dr A. L. du Bois-Pedain (Faculty of Law and Magdalene College), read by the Junior Pro-Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, as we emerge from another year of business-as-usual when it comes to promotion, what stands out are the following points:

First, the budgetary increase of around 21 per cent in a year-on-year comparison of the estimated total costs of promotion between this year's and last year's SAP rounds constitutes a welcome reminder that money can be found if the purpose for which it is spent is judged sufficiently important.

Second, it must be noted that the sums given are mere 'estimates'. No detail is provided on how these estimates are arrived at. We therefore do not know how closely the estimated costs reflect the true costs. If the estimate is based simply on the nominal pay differential between earnings at the bottom end of the pay grade from which an applicant is moved to the bottom end of a more highly-graded office, whereas the reality is that this individual's earnings immediately prior to promotion were at the top end of pay for their previously-held office, the estimate would significantly overstate true costs. Likewise, if individuals have been in receipt of market pay awards, their promotion to higher office could well be effectively cost-neutral.

Third, in relation to the line-drawing exercise that the University has engaged in, we lack sufficiently detailed information on how this year's unsuccessful applicants were scored to form a view on whether the line was sensibly drawn where it was drawn. The Report is silent on whether anyone whose research was judged as outstanding has been turned back for promotion to Readership or Professorship. Likewise, it is silent on how many individuals whose research was judged as strong, and thus placed in the below-outstanding band, were promoted to Readerships or Professorships. Such information should be provided as a matter of course. There should also be clear information on how many successful, and unsuccessful, applicants had submitted reapplications. Such information is crucial, not least to enable effective comparisons with the functioning of the ACP criteria in subsequent promotions rounds.

A further point that deserves attention in this context is that, as we are approaching the replacement of the present SAP process with the ACP process, it would appear important to test-run the ACP criteria against a cohort of applicants under the SAP process, at least in respect of applicants to the offices of Readership and Professorship where the two processes are directly comparable. This would not only help Sub-Committees develop an understanding of the ACP criteria; it would also provide the University's Main Committee with important information on what difference, if any, the introduction of the ACP process would make.

Report of the Council, dated 10 June 2019, on the financial position and budget of the University, recommending allocations from the Chest for 2019–20

(Reporter, 6552, 2018–19, p. 699).

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

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this year's Budget Report reflects a period of transition within the University. As indicated in the Report, my priority since taking office has been to reform budgeting and planning with a focus on defining and delivering the University's academic vision within a financially sustainable framework. This is a significant undertaking, and the challenge is altogether greater in the context of continuing external political and economic upheaval, and an internal environment in which the University continues, as in previous Budget Reports, to forecast an overall operating deficit.

The Chest position is forecast to improve relative to the previous Budget Report, due partly to forecast increases in income from tuition fees and from research grants and contracts. But it also reflects lower Chest allocations across the University; a one per cent increase previously forecast for 2019–20 has not been implemented, and this has been supplemented by further reductions across the University, including a total of £6m in the Schools and the UAS. These decisions have been far from straightforward, and I am grateful to colleagues at all levels who have responded so constructively to this difficult and unwelcome task.

The Planning and Resources Committee has responded to the cost pressures within the University, and a number of significant external risks, by heavily rationalising its short-term capital plan. A number of important projects will continue, however, including the very substantial investment in Cavendish III and several projects enabled by competitive awards from UKRI.

The Director of Finance and his team have made good progress to improve our understanding of the University's overall operating budget and forecasts, moving away from a narrow focus on the Chest. This progress will continue over the next year as we aim to develop a much clearer view of University, School and Departmental income and expenditure, which will inform and incentivise intelligent decision-making at all levels of the University.

My consultations and conversations with academics and professional staff over the past year have demonstrated an enthusiasm for longer-term academic planning that moves away from a focus on individual Schools and institutions, to an approach that takes into account the broader implications of ambitions in any one School in the context of University-wide priorities. The strategic review process announced in this Budget Report will be developed very much with this spirit in mind.

The financial forecasts in this Report are not yet where we would like and expect them to be, but I am confident that the University can and will take clear decisions on spending and investment, informed by a shared understanding of our academic priorities, to make the necessary changes over the next several years, and it is on this basis that I commend this Report to the Regent House.

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

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Cambridge should take pride in its annual 'allocations' report. Oxford has a Chest too, though with fewer keys. Oxford's Chest used to have Curators but the Curators were abolished in 2000 and

remaining responsibilities disbursed amongst the new committees that we have now, primarily to PRAC and the Finance Committee. The Chest, as the finance office, was renamed the Finance Division, although occasionally post still arrives addressed to the Chest.1

No Oxford Chest then. Nor does Oxford publish an annual 'allocations' statement, only (like Cambridge) the Financial Statements formerly required of universities by HEFCE and, now under its own requirements, by the Office for Students.2

Oxford's only provision for checking that Congregation is happy with proposed expenditure seems to be a Regulation which seems to have been more breached than complied with, that when Congregation is asked to approve a proposed statute change or proposes a Resolution of its own to make a Regulation (an Ordinance in Cambridge)

the passing of the proposal or the making of the regulation will involve additional expenditure from university funds Council shall either in the notice of the proposal or in a separate notice published with it state whether the expenditure can be met without curtailment of existing services or of services for which money has already been allocated.3

Cambridge does not have a Strategic Plan, a device with which Congregation in Oxford is finding it has 'bound' itself to huge changes under various 'high level' and very general statements of plans and priorities.4 So I was interested to read in this year's Allocations Report that

Planning for the next several years will be informed above all by the development of a draft 'Priorities Framework,' which sets out fundamental opportunities and risks for the University, and highlights specific initiatives and actions needed to seize those opportunities and mitigate the risks.

While Congregation is surprised to find it has apparently agreed to a hugely increased intake of graduate students, the Regent House is told in the Report we are Discussing today of

the establishment of a Joint University and Colleges Working Group on Student Numbers to develop a rigorous, ten-year model of student numbers at undergraduate, masters' and doctoral levels. With a clear sight on College capacity, the Group will consider the overall balance across the various disciplines to ensure that the University remains committed to broad disciplinary coverage and is open to emerging disciplines, including inter-disciplinary study.

However, the Report explains that the North West Cambridge development is 'managed as a ring-fenced project', 'lies outside 'little U' financials' (the Chest) and 'is externally financed and underpinned by the University's balance sheet'. Oxford has announced a gigantic housing scheme for staff and graduate student accommodation for financing which it does not intend to draw on its own Bond, so all the 'underpinning' and risk will be on the University. That too Congregation was told it had agreed to when it approved the Strategic Plan. Some of that building work it was hoped in Oxford would prove income-generating. However, Professor Anderson has given figures in speeches which indicate a substantial Cambridge risk from its own recent housing ventures.

In a recent speech I hoped that the promise that academic promotions for all those deemed to deserve them would be kept in the long term. It is therefore worrying to read that

pay and reward initiatives proposed under the University's People Strategy are forecast to result in significant additional recurrent costs over and above the recurrent costs of the existing schemes. The PRC has agreed to make provision in this Budget Report to meet these additional costs, but remains concerned about the ability of Schools and institutions to absorb the recurrent costs of existing schemes, as demonstrated by the continued spend-down in all Schools of Chest-sourced reserves.


remaining expenditure includes human resources expenditure totalling £2.9m such as in-year costs of existing pay and reward schemes.

I remember the appointment of the first Director of what was then called Personnel. Just the one. The HR website is worth a look just to get an idea where that nearly £3 million is going.5

So I hope members of the Regent House will remember they are fortunate to have this Report and take the trouble to read it each summer.

Dr S. Cortijo (Sainsbury Laboratory and Cambridge UCU's anti-casualisation officer), read by the Senior Pro-Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I speak as the anti-casualisation officer for Cambridge UCU. The University's rates for examination and assessment work, as set in Ordinances, have remained unchanged for eleven years; in the intervening period inflation, as measured by RPI, has been 29.4%. This is inexcusable, and our branch has been requesting on negotiations for months that these rates be re-adjusted as a matter of urgency. What amount has been budgeted this year to pay for examination and assessment work covered by the Ordinance rates? Compared with the amount budgeted last year, has an uplift in rates been taken into account?

I also want to point out that the substitute teaching rates paid to staff teaching by the hour do not adequately cover the amount of preparation time required for each hour of teaching. This puts teaching staff paid by the hour in financial difficulties, especially acute in a city with living costs as high as Cambridge. Our branch has requested an increase in substitute teaching pay rates to cover the amount of work required for each hour of teaching. We are also asking for teaching staff currently paid by the hour to be given contracts. Have either of these requests, called for in a formal claim that Cambridge UCU submitted in December 2018, been taken into account in this year's budget?

Finally, I want to bring to your attention the risk of the University's response to the predicted deficit leading to increased casualisation. I have been informed of several cases of permanent posts being replaced by fixed-term posts in order to reduce departmental spending, and of hiring freezes that have led to the delay of needed and expected permanent posts. These are not sustainable solutions for reducing spending. They will increase workloads for all staff, including permanent staff. A 2016 UCU survey1 already found that Cambridge staff work on average 53 hours a week – 2.1 days of unpaid work per week. Increasing casualisation also causes financial and personal hardships. Staff at this University do their best to provide world-class teaching and research. The University should therefore provide world-class pay and conditions to its staff. I urge you to prioritise protecting – and increasing – staff pay and job security in the spending strategy.

Dr S. C. James (Faculty of History and Cambridge UCU President), read by the Junior Pro-Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Report of the Council on the financial position and budget of the University raises a number of issues critical to the future of the University. Here I will focus on two.

First, the Report urges deliberation about the strategic direction of the University. A projected operating deficit and external pressures are taken as evidence that the University must make 'clear decisions on where to prioritise its spending and investment, and how to maximise its revenue.'1 The Report calls for 'real choices … about which opportunities to pursue'.2 Although it refers to reform of the Planning Round, and to consultation with Heads and Chairs, the Report gives little sense of the principles which should guide these decisions and choices. It thus leaves open the prospect that financial decision-making entails increasing revenue from whatever activities generate it most efficiently (as in the enabling of Heads of Department to 'take forward academically-driven activity that can also improve the University's financial sustainability'3), and reducing costs however they can be cut most quickly.

Such an approach would be short-sighted and profoundly damaging. Academic excellence is not reliably measured by the scale of grants attracted, or revenues generated; nor are values like equality readily quantified. Strategy has to do more than ensure that

where academic activity results in a financial return, the participating departments can benefit directly and receive a fair share.4

It must instead be shaped by an understanding of the role and values of a university. It is essential that the University ensures that the 'decisions' and 'changes' to be made with respect to its financial planning take these properly into account.

Second, the Report deals very narrowly with the staff whose work lies at the heart of all of the University's activities. The Report mentions, rightly, the need to 'invest properly in people and facilities'.5 One wonders, though, about the relationship between 'people' and 'facilities'. As the Report notes, the University has pursued ambitious capital expenditure (albeit funded in part by specific grants). Capital projects may indeed be needed to

sustain and improve the University's position in relation to competitive research funding and the recruitment and retention of staff and students.6

But decent pay and good working conditions are also vital for the recruitment, motivation, and retention of staff, and in turn the University's ability to attract research funding and outstanding students. For a university, buildings have no purpose without the people who work in them.

The Report envisages that 'pay and reward initiatives' under the University's People Strategy will require an increase in Chest allocations of £2.7m per annum in 2019–20, increasing to £11m per annum in 2022–23.7 There is little detail regarding these initiatives, a fact which is concerning since they appear to be considered a substitute for a meaningful increase in basic pay. The current trend of a small minority of employees receiving increasingly large 'supplements' while pay for the majority stagnates is unjustifiable, and exacerbates gender and race pay gaps. Could the Council provide a breakdown of the cost of the 'pay and reward' initiatives, both for the current year and the forecasts through 2022–23? In particular, what total figure was forecast for bonus pay, and for market pay supplements?

Aside from these 'pay and reward initiatives', the default assumption for pay increases is 2% (matching the default assumption for inflation). This does nothing to address a decade-long slump in real-terms pay in higher education – a decline that has been markedly worse than that in nationwide wages or public sector wages, according to ONS data. During this period, the pay of senior administrative post-holders at the University has increased sharply, with the Vice-Chancellor's pay, for example, having risen 44.4% in real terms since 2005. These pay increases have been paired with a curtailment, over the dissent of eight Council members, of the capacity of the Council to scrutinise the pay of senior post-holders (other than the Vice-Chancellor).8

The Vice-Chancellor has said he is 'concerned about the low remuneration of UK academics and professional staff'.9 The University must now press UCEA for a realistic sector-wide offer, rather than the sub-inflationary 1.8% proposed, and plan for ongoing increases. The University must also address the divide between senior post-holders and other staff, and the inadequacies in oversight noted by many of the Council's own members. What steps will the Council take to build into budgeting and planning processes the major uplift needed to make up the decline in real-terms pay over the last decade? Will the Council now consider amending the governance of senior post-holder remuneration to ensure that increases to senior post-holder pay are limited to the increase granted to other staff? If not, will the Council set out its justification for maintaining this grossly unequal system in a period of claimed financial constraint?

Previous responses to concerns of this kind have not addressed the full range of issues, which extend beyond the Vice-Chancellor to other senior post-holders; and they have stressed that the Vice-Chancellor is paid relatively less than peers overseas (irrelevant when the same is true for other staff),10 rather than confronting the core of the complaint: that the divide between senior post-holders and others is still growing, and cannot continue to do so.

Staff deserve a more comprehensive response. In the circumstances, greater transparency of senior post-holder pay is crucial to meaningful deliberation about the University's strategy. Strong remarks made by dissenting Council members and others in January 201911 were passed to the Remuneration Committee, which was 'taking the remarks very seriously[,] ... considering what might be done to mitigate at least some of the concerns' and reporting back to the Council in Easter Term.12 Can the Council indicate what responses have been made by the Remuneration Committee, and how these concerns will be addressed?


Dr P. A. Sliwa (Faculty of Philosophy, and Cambridge UCU's Equality Representative), read by the Senior Pro‑Proctor:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Paragraph 25 of Council's Report makes clear that the Planning and Resources Committee has made provisions for a range of new 'pay and reward initiatives proposed under the University's People Strategy' in the current Budget Report.

The recognition that additional pay and reward initiatives are needed is welcome news. But the Report gives very little detail about what these initiatives are and what their cost is.

One hopes that careful thought has been given to how these initiatives will support the University's commitment to narrowing the Gender and BME Pay Gaps and that these initiatives have been properly vetted by the relevant steering committees and equality champions – something that the University has consistently failed to do for previous HR reforms, including, most recently, the Academic Career Pathways reform.

I want to ask about whether one initiative, in particular, has been included: does the current Budget Report make provisions for increasing parental leave to 26 weeks at full pay for Cambridge staff? The proposal to introduce 26 weeks of paid parental leave has been stalled in HR Committee since January this year, awaiting more detailed costing. Does the current Budget Report include such costing, so that the proposal can finally move ahead?

Unlike market pay supplements, increased paid parental leave would benefit a much wider range of staff, including those early in their career. (For example, in 2017 the University paid out just above £3m in market pay supplements, to 181 academic staff, of which 141 were men.)

Increasing the provision of paid parental leave would also help to narrow the Gender Pay Gap, which widens dramatically after women have children; for this reason it is often dubbed the 'maternity penalty'. Unlike many other of the University's Gender Pay Gap 'initiatives' proposed by HR, improving parental leave provision (which will encourage the take-up of shared parental leave) is actually recommended as 'effective' by the Government Equality Office. In contrast, increased spending on market pay supplements will only widen existing pay gaps.

Finally, it would simply put Cambridge in line with its competitors – other Russell Group universities, including Oxford, Manchester, Exeter, Birkbeck and Southampton are already offering their staff 26 weeks of parental leave at full pay.