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16 January 2003 Minutes

Board of Scrutiny

Minutes of the Meeting Held at Noon on

Thursday 16 January 2003 at Selwyn College

 

Present: Stephen Cowley, Robin Lachmann, Jack MacDonald, Timothy Milner, Christopher Forsyth, Elisabeth Leedham-Green, Susan Lintott, Oliver Rackham, Jennifer Rigby, John Spencer, Helen Thompson.

 

Apologies: David Howarth.

 

1)      Minutes of the meetings of 5 December 2002. Draft minutes were tabled. The secretary offered to produce slightly longer version for the next meeting. This action was agreed.

 

2)      Matters arising. The letter to the Press Office concerning harassment information on their WWW site has apparently not been sent. 

 

The secretary noted that the Director of Finance had drawn his attention to information in the Abstract of Accounts that many of the extra academic and academic related posts that appeared in the Allocation Report were as a result of incorporation of Homerton staff.

 

3)      Result of the ballot on the Grace on the Principal Officers. There was a discussion of the consequences of the Grace on two of the principal officers covering the reasons for the result. There was a discussion as to how University should proceed when, at some point in the future, the posts became vacant.

 

4)      The governance ballot. It was noted that the Chairman had written to the Vice-Chancellor and Council at the end of last term. It was also noted that the Council had rearranged the dates of the governance ballot so that the ballot fell within term time. The ballot was now underway.

 

5)      The budget deficit: projected meeting with Financial Working Party. It was agreed to take up the offer of a further meeting with Malcolm Grant. It was agreed that the Chairman and Susan Lintott would seek a meeting.

 

6)      Buildings, Graces and the Regent House. The Chairman reported that he had been informed by the Registrary that the building for primate research by Experimental Psychology had already been Graced. It was noted that the associated Report had not been particularly informative as to the nature of the research.

 

7)      Programme of forthcoming meetings.

 

a)      The Registrary and the Treasurer. This meeting is primarily to discuss buildings and will take place on 11 February. It was agreed that the Chairman, Timothy Milner, Christopher Forsyth, Jennifer Rigby and Oliver Rackham would attend.

 

b)      Andrew Reid (Finance). It was agreed to ask the Director of Finance to come and meet us at one of our Thursday meetings.

 

c)      Professor Brown and Laurie Friday (BoGS). The meeting with Professor Brown will take place on 20 January. The Chairman and Helen Thompson will attend.

 

d)      David Adamson (EMBS). The meeting with David Adamson will take place on 24 January, with the Chairman, Susan Lintott and Jennifer Rigby attending. Questions to be addressed include the English building, the Marconi building and the issue of grey water.

 

e)      David Secher (RSD). The Secretary will organise a meeting with the Director of Research Services. Robin Lachmann and the Chairman will also attend.

 

8)      Annual Reports of the Council and the General Board; Abstract of Accounts (Reporter No. 5908, Wednesday 18 December 2002). Each of these Reports was discussed. It was agreed to raise certain issues at the Discussion on 28 January 2003.

a)      Annual Report of the Council. Para 3: the relative roles of the Business Committee and the Executive Committee were discussed. Para 21: it was noted that the Council was concerned about the maintenance of new buildings, but that did not seem to stop them approving new projects. Para 24: it was agreed to determine how far the University had progressed in setting up a legal department. The issue of the recent public procurement legal case needs to pursued. Para 30: there was a discussion over admissions policy as to whether there was a University strategic plan regarding expansion, and as to whether the Press Office was as effective as it might be. Para 31: it was noted that although CUFS might be working in some respects, the unsatisfactory state of the Research Grants Module is very important given the large amount of income/expenditure of the University that is associated with Research Grants. Para 33: the odd phrasing of the final sentence was noted. Para 38: it was noted that the Senior Academic Women’s Advisory Group seems to be a self-selected group.

b)      Annual Report of the General Board. Para 4: there was a discussion of e-learning, and in particular the cost-effectiveness of the University’s current involvement. Para 16-17: it was noted that the time allocation survey results might be statistically useless since the meaning of University time was not defined. Para 28: apparent teething troubles with the new Endeavour Voyager system were discussed.

c)      Abstract of Accounts. It was noted that the relative rosy picture of the University’s accounts was helped by a number of one-off items of income (e.g. a VAT refund). It was noted that while Deloitte and Touche state that their opinion is “not qualified” they also state that certain of the policies of the University, e.g. regarding the Press and the Local Examinations Syndicate, mean that the financial statements do not comply with applicable UK accounting standards.

 

9)      Any other business. It was reported that there is a new Director of MISD. The Secretary will arrange a meeting. The existence of a risk committee was noted.

 

10)  Date of next meeting. The next meeting will be on Thursday 30 January 2003.