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Board of Scrutiny Notes

Stephen John Cowley
University of Cambridge


of Scrutiny

Minutes of the Meeting
Held at Noon on

Thursday 24 April 2003
at Selwyn College


Present: Stephen Cowley, Christopher Forsyth, David Howarth, Robin
Lachmann, Elisabeth
Timothy Milner, Oliver Rackham, Jennifer Rigby (for the second half of the
meeting), John Spencer, Helen Thompson.


Apologies: Susan Lintott, Jack MacDonald.


1)      Minutes of the meeting of 27 February 2003 and 13
March 2003
. The notes were agreed, and
minutes will be produced from them. The Chairman requested that notes/minutes
be produced a little earlier.


2)      Governance.
The Chairman reported that he had written to Anne Campbell MP and that she had
replied saying that she would be happy to meet with members of the Board on 23
May 2003. It was agreed that the Chairman, the Secretary,
Christopher Forsyth, Elisabeth
Leedham-Green, Timothy Milner, Oliver Rackham and Helen Thompson
would attend. The Chairman and Christopher Forsyth would draft a letter to her explaining the current governance
structure with particular reference to any delays or inefficiencies caused by
its democratic nature (since it would appear that that the information she has
received up to now may have had one particular slant). The Secretary observed
that in the “
Joint Report of
the Council and the General Board on arrangements for the regrading of certain
offices and posts, and for the award of discretionary increments” of 26 March
it was proposed that “the Council and the General Board be given authority to
make such changes in the arrangements of the scheme as they consider necessary
in the interest of its good management and efficient operation”. A view was
expressed that having lost the ballot on executive powers for the VC, there was
now seems apparently a move to
government by
statutory instrument or circular. Concern was again expressed about the
attitude of senior members of the University to Statutes and Ordinances.


Action. The Chairman and Christopher Forsyth to write to Anne Campbell MP.


Action. The Chairman, the Secretary, Christopher Forsyth, Elisabeth
Leedham-Green, Timothy Milner, Oliver Rackham and Helen Thompson to meet with
Anne Campbell MP on 23 May.


was reported that the Secretary had written on behalf of the Board to the
Registrary concerning external members.


3)      Correspondence and possible meeting with the
The Chairman reported that
the requested studies from the Financial Working Party Report had so far not
arrived, nor had the Board’s request as to when the Council knew that the
building of the Primate Centre might be controversial. The Chairman offered to
follow up this matter with the Registrary. It was agreed that the Chairman
would seek a meeting (likely attendees are the Chairman, the Secretary, David
Howarth and Christopher Forsyth) with the Registrary in about 2-3 weeks time.
The Chairman asked members of the Board to send him matters of concern.


Action. The Chairman to check with the Registrary on the
status of existing requests.

Action. The Chairman to request a meeting with the
Registrary in the next 2-3 weeks.

Action. The Chairman to review last year’s report from

Action. Members of the Board to suggest topics to
be raised with the Registrary.


was reported to the Board that a senior member of the University was concerned
about the use of SRIF funds, and in particular whether they were being used for
the main purpose intended.


4)      Possible meeting with the Director of the Research
Services Division.
There was a further
discussion of the Research Services Division. Views of colleagues were reported.
It was noted that a number of colleagues were willing to express views
confidentially, but were not willing to be quoted. The securitisation rights of
the University’s IPR was discussed. It was agreed that the Board would attempt
to discover how far this issue had been explored prior to the publication of
the IPR Report last year.


Action. David Howarth to contact a colleague over
IPR securitisation rights.

Action. The Chairman to make further enquiries over IPR
securitisation rights.


Board needs to try and assess the efficiency and competence of the RSD, e.g.
has the division been able to recruit qualified administrators given its recent
rapid expansion. Is it achieving its service standard? Who set the service


5)      Possible approach to the Vice-Chancellor elect. There was a discussion of whether a meeting with
the Vice-Chancellor elect was desirable, and if so, when. It was agreed that
the Chairman would write to her to ask if she would like to meet us at some
point, e.g. possibly this term. One subject to be raised at such a meeting
would be a possible Governance Syndicate.


Action. The Chairman to write to the Vice-Chancellor
elect suggesting a meeting this term. The issue of a Governance Syndicate
should be raised at such a meeting.


6)      Personnel matters. Jennifer Rigby reported on a conversation with the
Director of Personnel. A report on the HERA pilot went to the Personnel
Committee recently. The report highlighted a number of issues particularly
relating to the bureaucracy of the scheme and proposed a number of ways to
streamline it.  It recommended a change
in the weighting of some factors (there is co-operation with a small group of
other universities to tailor the scheme and make it more workable). Overall it
concluded that the scheme was as good as any other currently available.


next phase in HERA is benchmarking a large number of roles to establish
commonality (this should reduce the number of roles which have to be
individually assessed). The re-grading exercise currently taking place will be
done under the HERA scheme and the existing scheme in parallel.


was suggested that it would be unwise for the University not to introduce a
scheme such as HERA given the penalties incurred by the NHS when taken to
tribunal by the Unions in a series of test cases recently on the issue of pay


Secretary reported that he had attended an AUT meeting on HERA. The
introduction seemed to involve vast amounts of time and effort (e.g. a trained
assessor completed about 4 assessments a week). The AUT is against HERA (it
recommends that members do not take part) and has its own scheme for academic
and academic-related staff. The Secretary noted that in the unamended HERA
scheme research only has 7% of the total marks.


was noted that before an analytical job evaluation scheme like HERA is devised
an organisation should identify its aims (e.g. research and teaching), and then
ensure that the job evaluation scheme awards those fulfilling the aims with a
high rating. The Board was of the view that the HERA scheme (including the
parameters) should be transparent, as could be achieved by a full Report and a


was observed that there are problems with staff management in the University,
and that the Board should support efforts by personnel to correct such
problems. The Board concurred. The Secretary observed that there was a need to
increase the trust of academics in the central bodies, and that transparency
and full disclosure might be a way forward. He noted that the Regent House had
voted for senior lecturers not to have to sign a new contract, that Council had
side-stepped that vote, but had subsequently made it possible for
academic-related staff to receive the same pay increase by means of
discretionary payments without the need to sign new contracts.


7)      Planning for the 8th Report. It was generally felt that we had got it right
with the 7th Report, especially the section on money. It was agreed
that a sub-committee of the Chairman, David Howarth, Susan Lintott and Jennifer
Rigby would meet at 9.30 am on 9 May 2003 at Churchill to work on a first draft
of the money section this year. The Secretary would give input as appropriate
on the RAM, and he and Christopher Forsyth would work on the governance section
(it was noted that the RAM had important consequences for governance). It was
agreed that the Board still see a need for a Syndicate on governance. The Board
felt that some comment should be made on the way that the governance reform was
conducted, and to note that the Board had played a role in delaying the ballot.
It was noted that the University still does not appear to have a clear
strategy. There was a view that the last Report was too long! The Chairman
offered to produce an outline of the Report for the next meeting on 8 May 2003.


Action. The Chairman to produce an outline of the Report
for 8 May 2003.

Action. Financial sub-committee to meet at 9.30 am
on 9 May 2003.


8)      Any other business.


a)      Elections to the Board. It was reported that the Registrary had been
reminded to arrange elections for this term. The Board was concerned that there
should be a full slate of candidates. It was reported that a Bursar had been
approached. The Secretary agreed to approach two colleagues. The Chairman
agreed to approach three colleagues. Timothy Milner agreed to approach a
colleague. Other members of the Board were urged to approach anyone they
thought might be appropriate, especially if under the age of 35.


Action. The Chairman, the Secretary and Timothy
Milner to approach certain persons in order to suggest that they stand for the


b)      BoGS.
The Secretary reported that at his Department’s staff meeting, some
dissatisfaction had been expressed about the current performance of BoGS. He
asked if some follow up to the Board’s earlier meeting might be appropriate?


Action. Helen Thompson to check on the progress at


c)      Visitor centre. It was reported that the Planning and Resources Committee had approved
the visitor centre at a capital costs of £1.3m. The centre will occupy three
business units on Kings Parade. The Colleges have apparently been approached
for £5000 per annum each. It was not known how many Colleges had agreed to fund
the centre at this level, whether there was a business plan, and if there was,
whether the business plan assumed College support. The point was made that the
visitor centre was unlikely to have much impact on the access of under
represented students, other than rich overseas students.


Action. Jennifer Rigby to discover if there is a
business plan.


d)      Principal Officers. It was reported that no developments had been


e)      CUC Guide.
The Secretary reported that there was a helpful guide explaining the governance
structure at other UK universities, and the Board might like to note the
evolution of the University’s governance structure to that of other
Universities. The Committee of University Chairmen ( published the
guide. The second edition is online as html at,
while the third edition is available at


Administrative help. It was agreed that we would try and obtain
short-term help.


Action: David Howarth to write a person
specification and to forward it to the Chairman.


9)      Date of future meetings. The next meeting will be on 8 May 2003, and
thence fortnightly for the rest of term.