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22 February 2005

Board of Scrutiny


Noon, Tuesday 22 February 2005



Chadwick Room, Selwyn College


Present: Stephen Cowley, Nick Downer, Margaret Glendenning, Nicholas Holmes, John Little, Timothy Milner, Saskia Murk-Jansen, David Phillipson, Nick Pyper, Jennifer Rigby, John Spencer (Chairman),


In attendance: Tessa Payne



1.       Apologies

Helen Thompson   



2.       Minutes of previous meeting

These were agreed.



3.       Matters arising

There were no matters arising, other than those already on the agenda.


It was agreed that both a short and long response to the comments of Charles Larkum should be prepared.  The short version would be sent to the Council for official publication, and the longer version to be sent to Charles Larkum.  Council would be advised that the Board had written directly to Mr Larkum in greater detail.  John Spencer would review the existing draft response and circulate for comment,


The Board discussed the issue of potential conflicts of interest of members who served on other University or College committees.  It was agreed that the formal restrictions that already exist in the Statutes and Ordinances were satisfactory, but that the Board would need to continue to be sensitive to potential conflicts of interest that might arise.


It was noted that a response had been received from Graham Allen regarding the consultation on leadership, governance & management.



4.       Report on meeting with Board of Graduate Studies

At the meeting with representatives from the Board of Graduate Studies (BGS) on 8 February, the issues of workload, resourcing levels and the modernisation of processes had been discussed.  Temporary staff were employed to help process applications within two weeks.  Both CAMSIS and CAMGRAD were proving useful.  The relationships with Cambridge Trusts were becoming increasingly integrated, assisted by changing deadlines for applications.  The Board agreed that BGS was doing a good job, despite the limited resources.


It was noted that the Transferable Skills money was managed by BGS to support graduate and postdoctoral students.  BGS would like to develop what they can offer to this group of students, but they have no resources at present.



5.       Report on Discussion held on 1 February – annual Reports of the Council and General Board, and Financial Statements for the year ended 31 July 2004.

The Board noted that John Spencer had given his speech and that there was nothing else to report.



6.       Student bursaries

The Board discussed the various sources of student funding available, and agreed that there was not sufficient easily accessible information circulated within the University about these issues to enable staff to inform themselves.  It was also felt that CU should do more to generate positive publicity, particularly in view of its laudable efforts to avoid the creation of a poverty trap for average income families.



7.       Discussion on counter-terrorism paper

The Board discussed the implications of counter-terrorism legislation on the reporting requirements of the University.  It was noted that it generates huge amount of paperwork, due in part to the legislation being put together by non-practitioners.  The burden was increased within CU due to the fragmentation of the University structure, and it was suggested that consideration should be given to the employment of a University Compliance Officer.



8.       Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held at noon on Tuesday 8 March in the Chadwick Room at Selwyn College.  The meeting will be chaired by David Phillipson until the arrival of John Spencer.



9.       Any other business

Concern was voiced as to whether the issues raised in the Audit minutes on a possible future 'deficit' of the USS pension scheme were being acted on sufficiently quickly to enable them to be built into the University planning process.


It was agreed that the next agenda should include discussion of a shortlist of topics for annual report.