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Board of Scrutiny, meeting on Thursday 10 October at Selwyn College

Stephen John Cowley
university of cambridge


of Scrutiny

Minutes of the Meeting Held at Noon on

2 October 2003 at Selwyn College


Mantas Adomenas, Stephen Cowley, Christopher Forsyth, Nicholas Holmes,
Elisabeth Leedham-Green, Saskia Murk-Jansen, Timothy Milner, David Phillipson,
Jennifer Rigby, Roger Salmon, John Spencer.


Apologies: David Howarth, Helen Thompson.


In Attendance: Susan Lintott, Robin Lachmann, Jack
MacDonald, Oliver Rackham.


1)      Election
and Secretary.
Christopher Forsyth
was elected nem con as Chairman for
the year ending 30 September 2004 (proposed by John Spencer and seconded by
Elisabeth Leedham-Green). Helen Thompson was elected nem con as Secretary for the year ending 30 September 2004
(proposed by Jennifer Rigby and seconded by Timothy Milner). The outgoing
Chairman and Secretary were thanked for service.


2)      Minutes of
the meetings of 3 July 2003, 10 July 2003 and 17 July 2003
. These were approved after minor
corrections. A question arose as to the status of confidential notes in 2005
after the implementation of parts of the last Freedom of Information act. The
retiring Secretary agreed to follow this up.


Action: the former Secretary to ascertain the scope of the Freedom of
Information act.


3)      Matters
.  It was noted that as a result of the abolition
of University Assistant Lectureships, the University had asked departments to
consider promoting all University Assistant Lecturers to University Lecturers.
A department had enquired as to what a would happen if the department had
theoretically not wished to promote, and had been told that the UAL post would
evaporate on 1 October 2003. This advice was incorrect since it was
inconsistent with English law. Concern was expressed that the central bodies
were issuing incorrect advice, and that despite the provision of an in-house
legal service, advice was not apparently being sought from it. It was agreed
that the provision of cost-effective and accurate legal advice should be one of
the Board’s topics of enquiry for this year.


4)      The
Vice-Chancellor’s Address.
seemed to be a widespread view around the University that the new
Vice-Chancellor had hit the right notes with her address. The Board
particularly welcomed her comments on trust.


5)      The Eighth
The Discussion
of the Eighth Report will take place in the Council Room on 7 October 2003. It
was noted that, as last year, our Report is the last to be discussed. It was
agreed that the Chairman would introduce the Discussion with a brief headline
summary of the Report. He would also indicate a hope that Council and the
Finance Committee would discuss the Report in a timelier manner than last year,
and that there would be a vigorous Discussion. It was also agreed to comment
favourably on the new Vice-Chancellor’s address (and also on her presence if
she Chairs the Discussion).


was noted that, unlike last year, there had been little press coverage of our
Report. Members of the Board reported that colleagues had generally accepted
the issues the Board had raised about the primate centre. It was reported that
the Council had asked for a business plan for the primate centre to be drawn


6)      Implementation
of New Financial Regulations.

On 13 August 2003 the Director of Finance issued a circular relating inter alia to charging overheads on
activities funded by donations etc. Three concerns were expressed. First
whether the relevant policy papers had been approved by the Council as well as
the Finance Committee (which considered the matter on 9 July 2003). Second,
whether it was appropriate for the circular of 13 August 2003 to implement
changes with effect from 1 August 2003 (since, inter alia, this allowed no time for consideration of the
implications of the changes). Thirdly, it was not necessarily clear to which
accounts the changed applied, and whether the change applied to accounts
containing donations obtained before the matter of overheads was changed.


was noted that the charging of overheads on donation accounts was one of the
Finance Working Party proposals. It was not known when the Council had endorsed
these proposals. It was noted that some method of improved communication
between the central bodies and heads of institutions might be needed. It was
agreed to raise this matter next time the Board met with the Director of


The issue of the implementation of the charging of overheads on donation
accounts to be raised with the Director of Finance at the next meeting with


7)      IPR. A brief report on the Cambridge AUT
meeting on IPR was given. The meeting had been addressed by Prof. Cornish, the
chairman of the committee that had written the most recent Report (to be
Discussed on 21 October 2003). It was noted that the 2001 IPR policy for
contract research possibly needs changing, and that the Report seems to
advocate a unified IPR policy enshrined in ordinance. It was agreed that the
Board would follow the IPR debate, but nothing that the Board specifically
needed to do.


8)      The
Treasurer and Secretary General.
was noted that Pro-Vice-Chancellor Minson was now [formally] performing both
these jobs.   A long-term policy as to
what to do with, or how to reform, these posts had yet to be announced. The
Board agreed to follow developments.


9)      Programme
for the year.
There was a
discussion of topics that needed to be followed up during the year. These


a)      The
Research Services Division (RSD)
A visit to RSD had been deferred from last year. There was now a pressing need
for such a visit, together with an assessment of the performance of the


b)      The
Deficit and the RAM.
  It was agreed that the Board needs to follow
the University’s attempts to eliminate the deficit. A question was raised as to
progress on the RAM. It was thought that a Report was due this term. Stephen
Cowley was asked to ascertain progress. It was noted that the Finance Committee
were now being provided with detailed financial information, but it was not
clear how this was being used to better manage the University.


c)      Administration. The Board has repeatedly observed that
the administration of the University needs improvement. In particular, the
committee structure needs to be simplified, there needs to be a clear hierarchy
of accountability, and the committees need to be supplied with clear position
papers (rather than undigested minutes). There was a discussion as to why some
University papers were close to unreadable. It was agreed that developments on
the administrative front need to be followed, and that the Board should ensure
that the Shattock and Finkelstein recommendations are implemented.


Personnel. Problems with the introduction of a
single pay spline (at least at national level) were flagged. It was agreed that
the Board would follow the progress of HERA and similar initiatives.


e)      Legal
Advice to the University
. It was
agreed that the Board should scrutinise the legal advice (both in house and
external) that the University was receiving, particularly as regards timeliness
and value for money.


10)  Any other


a)      The
It was
reported that the Vice-Chancellor intends to chair less committees than her


b)      Administrative
. It was agreed
that we need to recruit support. A person specification is still needed. It was
agreed that the Chairman would follow this up.


The Chairman to ascertain what funds are available, and to co-ordinate job and
person specifications.


c)      Governance
It was noted that
the personnel division were running a training course on the Governance of the
University. This start on Tuesday 28 October 2003. It was agreed that the
Chairman would enquire as to whether the role of the Board of Scrutiny would be


The Chairman to enquire as to whether the role of the Board of Scrutiny would
be covered in the Governance of the University course.


d)      Reporting
to the University.
The subject
was raised as to whether the Board ought to Report to the University more than
once a year. This was not thought necessary, given that interim views can be
expressed in the Discussions of the Abstract of Accounts and the Annual Reports
of the Council and the General Board.


e)      The
Visitor Centre.
It was
reported that the plans for a Visitor Centre had been put on hold.


Thanks to retiring members. The Board thanked the retiring members
of the Board for all their efforts over the years. In particular Susan Lintott
was thanked for her 6 years of service.


11)  Dates of
future meetings
. In the
Michaelmas term it was agreed to meet fortnightly starting from 16 October
2003. In the Lent term it was agreed to meet fortnightly starting from 15
January 2004. The venue of the meetings is to be advised by the Chairman.