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15 January 2004

Board of Scrutiny


Thursday 15 January 2004


Robinson College

Garden Room



Present: Stephen Cowley, Christopher Forsyth (chair), Nicholas Holmes, Elisabeth Leedham-Green, Saskia Murk-Jansen, Timothy Milner, David Phillipson, Jennifer Rigby, John Spencer, Helen Thompson.



1.       Apologies

The Board received apologies from Mantas Adomenas and Roger Salmon.


2.       Minutes of the meeting of 27 November 2003

The minutes of the meeting of 27 November 2003 were confirmed.


3.       Matters arising


3.1.    Administrative support

The Chair reported that he would send the Registrary the particulars for the job of an administrative officer for the Board and ask that an advert for the position appear in the Reporter.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Registrary.


3.2.    RAM Report and meeting with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for planning and resources.

Stephen Cowley reported that the meeting was very constructive. He noted that that there were several issues that remain unclear in regard to RAM: (i) how to calculate an appropriate figure for savings to be made in the central bodies of the University; (ii) a realistic time-scale for the University to break even without a significant increase in income; (iii) the implications of HEFCE's announcement on 23 December 2003 of new funding ratings for arts, mixed science, science, and medical students; (iv) research overhead income; (v) how to advance co-operation between Departments when the incentives for Heads of Departments to pursue departmental self-interest are so strong.


3.3.    RSD

The Board received notes of its previous meeting with the Director of RSD.


The Board agreed to inform the Cornish committee of its concern about the possible tax liability to the University on assigning patents rights to CUTS. The Board also agreed to ascertain whether the Council review of RSD would receive input from members of the University who use RSD services.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the chair of the Cornish committee and the chair of the Council RSD review.

3.4.    Meeting with the Registrary

The Board amended the record of the meeting and agreed that the Chair would send the record to the Registrary.


ACTION:  The Secretary to amend the formal record and the Chair to forward the new record to the Registrary.


3.5.    Primate research faculty at 307 Huntington Road

The Chair noted the announcement of a second grace on the issue.


4.       Response to the letter from the Registrary

The Board agreed that it wished to meet a delegation from the Council.


4.1.    Frequency of reports to the Regent House

The Board agreed that it would in the future make some formal comments on the Annual Reports of the Council and the General Board, and the Abstract of Accounts prior to its annual report.  It also agreed that it would continue to deliver a report annually.


4.2.    Matters within the remit of the Board

The Board agreed that it would continue to exercise its right laid down in statutes and ordinances to scrutinise the policies of the University and the arrangements made for the implementation of those policies.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Registrary to arrange a time for a meeting.


5.       Annual Report of the Council, General Board and Abstract of Accounts


5.1.    Annual Report of the Council

             (i)      The Board noted that there is a £6 million hole in the budget for building maintenance after HEFCE turned down the University's bid to use SWIFT II funds for this purpose. The Board agreed to seek further information on this issue.

           (ii)      The Board noted the new Estate Plan and agreed to seek a copy.

          (iii)      The Board noted the unwieldy command structure for the Project Board for CAMSIS.

         (iv)      The Board noted ambiguities around the introduction of a single pay spine as part of the two-year pay settlement offer. The Board agreed that pay is an important issue for the morale of University staff and hoped that the Council would provide more information.


ACTION: Nick Holmes to make enquiries about the building maintenance fund. Jennifer Rigby to request a copy of the new Estate Plan.


5.2.    Abstract of Accounts

The Board noted that: (i) premises expenditure was down from £49.04 million to £43.31 million largely due to lower expenditure on repairs and maintenance; (ii) depreciation had fallen which appeared odd in view of the number of new buildings; (iii) the modest increase in expenditure on administration and central services hides significant increase in administration stipends and wages from £12.992m to £15.501m; (iii) general educational  "other" fell from £6.026m to £3.895 m; (iv) expenditure on staff and student sports and PE facilities fell  by 25%; (v)  the investment performance was well above average, with capital maintained and only a small fall in overall income; (vi) the fall in  the quinquennial equalisation fund by £6.116m; (viii) in  centrally held reserves,  there is a significant annual surplus in the buildings maintenance fund, HR strategy and "other", offset in part by a significant deficit in the  redundancy and restructuring fund; (ix) in department-held reserves, there is a significant annual surplus in research grant overheads and under-spend in "self supporting accounts - other departments", partially offset by a significant deficit in non-recurrent grants.


6.       Progress on Shattock and Finkelstein

The Board agreed to defer this issue.


ACTION: Stephen Cowley to circulate relevant papers.


7.       HEFCE audit memorandum

Jennifer Rigby reported that the Finance Committee had discussed the recommendations of the HEFCE audit memorandum. Stephen Cowley noted that that HEFCE are producing revised audit guidelines. The Board agreed to request the minutes of the Finance Committee.


ACTION:  The Chair to request the minutes of the last meeting of the Finance Committee.


8.       Invitation to the Vice Chancellor from the Board

The Board agreed to invite the Vice-Chancellor to one of its meetings.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Vice-Chancellor.



9.       Any other business. There was no other business.


10.    Date of the next meeting: 29 January 2004