Board of Scrutiny
Minutes of the meeting of 30 October 2003
Present: Mantas Adomenas, Stephen Cowley, Christopher Forsyth (chair), Elizabeth Leedham-Green, Saskia Murk-Jansen, Timothy Milner, David Phillipson, Roger Salmon (from item 3.4), John Spencer, Helen Thompson.
The Board received apologies from Nicholas Holmes and Jennifer Rigby.
2. Minutes of the meeting of 16 October 2003
The Board approved the minutes after minor corrections.
3. Matters arising
3.1 Freedom of Information Act
John Spencer advised the Board that it would have under the provisions of the Act to provide any of its written records if requested including any information given in confidence.
3.2 The Discussion of the Eight Report
The Chair reported that internally consolidating the University's accounts would require a change to the statutes and ordinances. The Board notes that this presented no bar to the auditors presenting consolidated accounts.
3.3 Administrative support
The Chair reported that he had been in correspondence with the Registrary. He presented the job description for a support officer for the Board which he had sent to the Registrary. The Registrary had acknowledged the letter and said that he would reply shortly.
The Board discussed the status of such an officer. The Chair agreed to pursue this question with the Registrary.
ACTION: The Chair to continue corresponding with the Registrary on the matter.
3.4 Governance course
The Chair reported that the leader of the governance course had only responded to his e-mails after he had had raised the matter with the Director of Personnel and the University Staff Development Officer. The leader of the course had now asked the Board to provide a speaker for the session, 'amateur and excerpts: quality control' on 27 January 2004. John Spencer agreed to speak.
ACTION: The Chair to write to the leader of the governance course and offer John Spencer as a speaker.
3.5 Meeting with the Registrary
The Chair reported that he had written to the Registrary and asked him to a meeting. The Registrary accepted an invitation to attend the Board's meeting on 27 November 2003. The Chair had told the Registrary that the Board was primarily interested in discussing progress on implementing the recommendations of Shattock and Finkelstein and legal advice to the University.
ACTION: The Chair to ask the Registrary to give the Board a written up-date on implementing Shattock and Finkelstein before the meeting on 27 November.
3.6 Clarity of Council papers
The Chair reported that he had written to the Registrary asking if the Board could see the Council papers for Lent 2003. The Registrary had acknowledged the e-mail, but hadn't yet given an answer. The Board agreed that it would be good if the issue was resolved quickly so that it could discuss any issues arising from Roger Salmon's scrutiny of the papers at the Board's meeting with the Registrary on 27 November.
Action: The Chair to press the Registrary for an early answer.
3.7 Other matters arising: Primate research facility at 307 Huntington Road
The Board discussed the Council's notice in the Reporter on 29 October about the primate research facility at 307 Huntington Road. It agreed that the notice was an unsatisfactory response to the questions about disclosure of information raised in the Board's Eighth Report. The Board remains concerned that the Council is not disclosing full details about the proposed building to the Regent House, and that the Regent House has been misled about the costs of the project in light of the security expenses it would entail.
ACTION: The Chair to write to the Vice-Chancellor explaining the Board's continuing concern.
4 Review of the Research Services Division and the Personnel Division
The Board noted that the Registrary had announced two separate reviews of the Research Services Division (RSD) and the Personnel Division. The Board considered whether, in light of this development, to scrutinise the operations of RSD this year as it had previously determined to. The Board agreed to seek a meeting with the Director of RSD before the end of term, where the Board would be represented by the Chair, Nicholas Holmes, Stephen Cowley and Roger Salmon.
The Board also agreed to monitor the progress of HERA.
ACTION: The Chair to write to the Director of RSD and request a meeting, and to write to the Director of Personnel and request documents on the progress of HERA.
5 IPR Contracts
The Chair reported that he had received confidential documents relevant to the operation of RSD. These raised issues of commercial and legal prudence, and academic freedom. He informed the Board that he had been in correspondence with the Registrary about this matter. He had explained to the Registrary that the Board remained of the view that whilst it wouldn't deal with individual complaints, it would pursue matters raised by individuals which might suggest systemic flaws in the operation of a part of the University.
ACTION: The Chair and John Spencer to prepare advice on the legal questions raised by the contracts for the meeting on 13 November 2003.
6. Any other business: University Nursery
The Board noted that the University had changed the contractors for the University nursery without any consultation with parents.
7. Date of next meeting: 13 November 2003