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11 March 2004

Board of Scrutiny


Thursday 11 March 2004


Robinson College

Garden Room



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


1.       Apologies.  Mantas Adomenas


2.       Minutes of the Meeting of 26 February 2004. The Board confirmed the minutes with a minor correction.


3.       Matters to Report. The Chair reported that Mantas Adomenas has resigned from the Board after intermitting his fellowship at Gonville and Caius.


4.       Matters Arising.


4.1.    Administrative Support. The Chair circulated a draft of the advertisement for a support officer for the Board. The Board approved it after making some minor changes.


4.2.    Paper on the Effectiveness of Council. The Chair circulated an e-mail he had received from the Registrary on the issue of the Board’s paper on the effectiveness of Council. The Board agreed to discuss the issue at its meeting on 22 April 2004 that the Vice-Chancellor will attend.


4.3.    The Building Maintenance Fund. Nick Holmes reported that he had received minutes of meetings relating to building maintenance, which he circulated to the Board. He noted: (i) that the Building Sub-Committee has recommended a significant increase in building maintenance; and (ii) that there was an assumption that the volume of buildings would increase by 3 per cent a year, which would lead to a further increase in the need for maintenance expenditure. The Board noted that some Departments and Faculties are spending money on maintenance from funds other than the EMBS budget.


4.4.     Request for the Blue Book. The Chair reported that copies of the Blue Book were available for members of the Board to see.


4.5.    The University’s Investment Policy. The Chair circulated a set of documents that he had received on the University’s investment policy.  On first reading Roger Salmon noted: (i) that there were important constraints on the way that the University can manage its investments, especially relating to capital distribution; (ii) that there are questions to ask about the coherence of the University’s asset allocation policy; and (iii) that as a piece of theoretical modelling, the University’s portfolio is not ideal. The Board agreed that to write a working paper on issues relating to the University’s endowment.


ACTION: Roger Salmon to draft a paper on the issue.


4.6.    Visit to Management Information Services Division (MISD). The Chair noted that he would be writing to the Director of MISD to arrange a meeting.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Director of MISD.


4.7.    Estates Plan. Nick Holmes reported that he had received a copy of the Estates Plan. He noted that the University had the lowest proportion of C-graded buildings of any institution of higher education in the country. He also noted that the Plan reflected clear, strategic thinking, which the Board applauded.


He reported that the Director of EMBS had suggested that the Board visit him to discuss the Plan. The Board agreed to accept the invitation.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Director of EMBS to arrange a meeting.


5.       Audit Management Letter. After a discussion of the issue, the Board reiterated its view that there is no statutory bar to consolidating the accounts of CUP and the University, and commended all efforts being made in the University to achieve this end.


6.       Estate Management and Building Service. Stephen Cowley explained that he was still concerned about the cost-efficiency of the services provided by EMBS. The Board agreed to raise the issue of the EMBS’ systems for assessing whether it received value for money when it met the Director of EMBS.


7.       HEFCE Funding Announcement. Stephen Cowley reported that his analysis of HEFCE’s announcement on funding suggested that the University would do somewhat better for research and somewhat less well on teaching than last year. This, he judged, was probably the result of changes to the HEFCE teaching-weightings for different subjects


8.       Preparation of the Annual Report. The Board agreed that it would aim to have a draft of the Report for it’s meeting on 10 June with the aim of approving it on 17 June. If, the Board also agreed, it does not receive the Allocations Report in time to meet this timetable, then it will publish a separate report covering that material.


ACTION: The Chair to write to the Registrary to explain the Board’s proposed timetable. Stephen Cowley and Nick Holmes to draft the section on RAM. Stephen Cowley to draft the section on K9. John Spencer to draft the section on governance. Jennifer Rigby to draft the section on HERA. Stephen Cowley and John Spencer to draft the section on statutes and ordinances and contracts.


9.       Any Other Business.


9.1.    Secretary for Easter term. The Board appointed Stephen Cowley secretary for Easter term to cover Helen Thompson’s leave.


10.   Date of Next Meeting. Noon on 22 April 2004.