General Resolutions concerning Governance - verbatim report of proceedings in Congregation - (1) to No 4511

<br /> Oxford University Gazette: Governance debate - transcript (supplement)

Oxford University Gazette

General Resolutions concerning Governance: verbatim report of proceedings
in Congregation

Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4511

Wednesday, 19 May 1999

To Gazette No. 4511 (20
May 1999)
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Contents of the supplement:

The verbatim report of the debate in Congregation on 11 May on the
resolutions concerning governance (see Gazette, p. 1210) is set out
below. (Because of the need to publish the report as soon as possible,
speakers have not been given the opportunity to check the text of their
speeches and to correct any grammatical or typographical mistakes, results of
mishearings, or errors of fact.)

The general resolutions read as follows:

(1) That this House approve the proposal that there should be a single
body (`the Council') to replace the Hebdomadal Council and the General Board,
with the role set out in section 2.2 of the annexe to the second report of the
Joint Working Party on Governance (`the annexe' and `the report'

(2) That this House approve the proposal that the Council should be
composed as set out in section 3.2 of the annexe.

(3) That this House approve the proposal that the Council should have four
main committees with the roles set out in sections 2.3--2.6 of the annexe.

(4) That this House approve the proposal that the four main committees
should be composed as set out in sections 3.3--3.6 of the annexe.

(5) That this House approve the proposals for the appointment of
Pro-Vice-Chancellors with defined special responsibilities broadly as set out
in para. 28 of the report.

(6) That this House approve the proposal that there should be three
science divisions as set out in sections 5.4--5.6 of the annexe, with delegated
powers and ex officio representation as set out in paras. 38--54 of
the report.

(7) That this House approve the proposal that there should be two arts
divisions as set out in sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the annexe, with delegated
powers and ex officio representation as proposed in paras. 38--54
of the report.

(8) That this House approve the proposal that there should be a single
arts division as set out in section 5.3 of the annexe, with delegated powers
and ex officio representation as proposed in paras. 38--54 of the

(9) That this House approve the proposal that the divisions should operate
broadly as set out in sections 7 and 8 of the annexe.

(10) That this House approve the proposals for the academic services set
out in paras. 59--66 of the report.

(11) That this House approve the proposals for the office of Vice-Chancellor
set out in para. 71 (k) of the report.

(12) That this House approve the proposals for the composition and role of
Congregation set out in para. 71 (l) of the report.

(13) That this House approve the proposal that there should be a review
of the operation of the new governance structure after five years, with the
remit and composition set out in para. 71 (m) of the report.

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Verbatim report

Mr Vice-Chancellor

The proposals that are placed before you today represent the first legislative
outcome of the long process of review and change begun when the Commission
of Inquiry was set up in 1994. The work of that Commission was grounded in
extensive consultation and much submission of evidence from bodies and from
many individuals within the University.

On receipt of its report at the beginning of 1998, a Joint Working Party was
charged with taking forward its discussion of governance. This Working Party
accepted the basic critique of the existing structure but made some significant
modifications and elaborations to the Commission's proposals. The Working
Party's first substantial report was discussed at General Board and Council
and then put through a very extensive process of consultation (including a
discussion in Congregation in December 1998). That consultation revealed broad
basic support in the University and the Working Party took account of
criticisms and suggestions made in its second report. This second report was
discussed in General Board and Council in late Hilary 1999.

These matters have therefore been under scrutiny and discussion since the
beginning of the Commission of Inquiry in 1994. Extensive consultation
undergirds the careful formulation of these broad proposals for restructuring
the governance of the University. Against that background, it is encouraging
to see that no alternative proposals have been put forward for debate; there
are no amendments to the general resolutions.

Ordinarily, where there has been no formally notified amendment or opposition
to resolutions before Congregation, they are deemed to have been passed
without further vote. However, Council, following in this the opinion of the
Working Party, believes that these are matters of great substance and that,
notwithstanding, there should be the opportunity for all members of
Congregation to debate and to vote both here and in a postal vote.

What, then, do we have before us today? We are voting on the broad
structures necessary to carry a new system of governance, including the
composition of a new Council and its committees. If passed, these resolutions
will be converted into statute, whose text will be brought to Congregation for
vote, most probably, I hope, later in this term. There will, however, be much
consequential legislation before Congregation on more detailed matters over the
next nine or so months.

Let me take one example: the internal organisation of divisions. Thus, we are
aware that there continue to be debates in some areas over how particular
units should be represented on their divisional board. The Working Party has
been able to make only indicative suggestions on this. Such a matter will be
dealt with in the legislation detailing the organisation of each division and one
would hope that discussion among the parties would provide an agreed formula
before that legislation is put. Matters of this kind may doubtless be mentioned
today, but I would hope that they would not detain us greatly. There will be
subsequent opportunities to debate them if necessary. Thus, Resolution (9) is
that the divisions should operate broadly as set out in the main

Finally, let me draw your attention to the fact that Resolutions (7) and (8) are
mutually exclusive—both cannot stand. They are both before you because
during its consultations the Working Party detected some significant hesitation
among colleagues in the arts over whether one or two divisions would be the
more appropriate for them. The Working Party therefore recommended to
General Board and Council that the choice should be offered. It may well be
that opinion has become clearer during the intervening period. In any case,
I should say that the Working Party itself distinctly preferred the
two-division model.

I do not wish to diminish markedly the time available for the proper debate
in this House by a long introduction. Let me try therefore to signal only a
few highlights. The purpose of the new central arrangements is to provide a
more transparent, streamlined, and integrated structure which is able to take
key strategic decisions in a proactive way and to respond swiftly, clearly, and
appropriately to individual issues and opportunities. Among the new elements
in this second report now before you, let me stress three or four.

The Working Party has made a measured response to concerns in some colleges
about the composition of some central bodies and it has tried to ensure an
appropriate balance of interests. There are important remarks about a new
resource allocation model, with incentives to income generation at the subject
level while the interests of small units are protected. The very great
significance of graduate studies is made much more explicit and is fully
integrated within the work of the Educational Policy and Standards Committee.
There are pertinent remarks on improved representation on committees,
especially of women, and a requirement on the General Purposes Committee to
report annually to Congregation on the progress of this.

Finally, it is specified that there will be a small number of fixed-term
Pro-Vice-Chancellors with carefully defined roles, all of whom will be approved
by Council, not simply appointed by the Vice-Chancellor.

The devolution of much appropriate planning and executive responsibility to
a number of divisions and beyond is the necessary twin of a reform in the
centre. While the exact pattern of internal divisional structure may vary, it
must be expected that operational responsibility and resources will be
delegated as much as possible to the units comprising the division. The text
in front of you elaborates the respective roles of the centre, the divisions,
and the units within the divisions, with a guiding principle of subsidiarity.
It also specifies more clearly the relations of colleges to the divisions.

There must be genuine delegation of resources to divisions and beyond, but
the coherence and prosperity of the University require that this is done
against an approved plan within a context of transparency of financial flows.
Furthermore, the resolutions before you take account of the opinions
expressed in the biosciences during consultation and they therefore propose
a fifth division (somewhat composite in terms of science and social
science)—fifth, that is, if it be the will of this House that there should be
two divisions in the arts.

The proposals do still maintain the overall balance between arts and sciences
in the composition of the central bodies, and this is quite crucial in our view.
Finally, the report specifies more refinements for the governance of academic
services, with over-arching committees for each service and an overall
Pro-Vice-Chancellor replacing the idea of a single committee. As for the
composition and conduct of Congregation, the proposals remain those presented
by the Commission of Inquiry; those on the Vice-Chancellorship repeat the
changes proposed to the Commission's suggestions by the Working Party's
first report.

So let me end simply by saying this. I do believe that a reform along the
lines proposed today is necessary. The higher education context, both
nationally and internationally, is changing rapidly. We have to defend,
strengthen, and enhance our reputation and our real activity as a great
international university. We have to continue to provide the environment and
support that we all need in our different disciplines not merely to sustain the
quality of our research and teaching, but above all to innovate. We have to
act, and we have to act creatively, within a context of local regulation,
financial stringency accompanied by intensifying funding complexity, and the
rapid appearance of alternative forms of the organisation and delivery of
higher education both nationally and worldwide. Wise and informed strategy
leading to choices nimbly made will lead us forward in a higher education
world that will never return to what it was fifteen, let alone thirty, years ago.

I believe that the governance reform before you today is appropriate and
necessary to that. Some of the new forms may be unfamiliar, but they do not,
in my view, deliver the University to top-down governance and rule by
placemen. The powers of Congregation remain intact. Divisional authority is
explicitly vested in divisional boards; there is considerable devolution of
responsibility and choice into the divisions and beyond; there is careful
balance of forms of representation; the Proctors and Assessor continue in
their function as tribunes of the people. We have been about the business of
reform for five years; it is time to begin to conclude. I beg to move General
Resolutions (1)--(13).

The Senior Proctor: Mr Vice-Chancellor, I beg to second General

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Dr R.C.S. Walker (Magdalen College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, the Joint Working Party was faced with a double task. It
had to devise a system which would improve on the present arrangements
broadly along the lines envisaged by the North Report. It had also to address
the concerns felt by members of Congregation about some aspects of the North
proposals. In doing these things, it had to design arrangements that would
work efficiently, while also preserving what is rightly seen as one of Oxford's
greatest strengths: the democratic responsiveness of its decision-making to
the opinions of academics at all levels, both in the overall formation of
university policy and in the detailed decision-making required within
departments, faculties, and other institutions.

At the outset, I believed that this could not be done. We might be able, I
thought, to remedy some inefficiencies in the present system by piecemeal
change, but I did not think we could make the radical changes North
envisaged without losing much else that was of value. We could gain
efficiency, I felt, only by introducing top-down management and losing our
essential democratic character.

I have been convinced otherwise and I hope this House will agree with me and
vote accordingly. Such a vote would be a vote in support of the outline of the
Working Party's scheme. I hope also that members of Congregation will
continue to provide ideas and suggestions on how that outline can be filled
in, either by speaking in the debate today, or else by other channels. In
drawing up its revised report the Working Party has found invaluable the
many expressions of view that it has received, both in this House and across
the University. It has been a principal aim of the Working Party to ensure
that decision-making should so far as possible not be centralised.

The key idea, one of North's main proposals, is to devolve much that is now
done by the General Board to the divisional boards that will represent broad
faculty groupings within the University, and to equivalent bodies in the fields
of Continuing Education and what we have infelicitously called academic
services: libraries, museums, IT. (It would be very nice, by the way, if
somebody could suggest a better name for that sector, but we have not been
able to think of one.)

One advantage to this devolution is that it will bring important decisions
about resources and priorities into the hands of the divisions. Everyone
recognises the need for a more transparent system of resource allocation, but
the devising of that is under way. With the new system, divisional budgets
will still require approval from the centre, as will divisional plans, but once
these are approved, divisions will be able to control their affairs much more
completely than faculty boards can at present. Decisions about academic posts,
for example, will become a divisional matter, though of course here the
divisions will have to act together with the colleges much as the General
Board at present does. In the recent revisions, the Working Party has given
a great deal of thought to ensuring that the interests of colleges are
appropriately heard at every stage in the process of governance, within the
divisions as well as on the Council and its key committees.

We have also given much thought to small subjects and subjects which do not
fit neatly into a single division. Some problems remain here to be resolved, as
you, Mr Vice-Chancellor, have already said. But one concern is widely shared:
whether the divisional boards will be sufficiently sympathetic to the interests
of the small groups; and that has been of principal concern to us. There are
two answers. First, that the Council will have to retain a watching brief,
especially at the outset, to make sure that the divisions do take appropriate
account of them and of their needs. But secondly, the way the divisional
boards are set up is designed to inhibit any one group within a division from
sweeping aside the interests of others.

The constitution of the divisional boards is loosely based on that of the
traditional constitution of the General Board, though with an added feature:
a college voice. So indeed is the arrangement for electing members to the
Council. On the General Board, as on all the University's central committees,
including the present Hebdomadal Council, anyone who fights for the interests
of his or her own constituency at the expense of the University as a whole
speedily loses influence and is doomed to failure. This is because people with
different concerns must work together and do so with a shared interest in the
success of the whole. The same will be true of the new Council. The same will
be true of the divisional boards. For this reason, what matters for these new
bodies is not that every group be represented for the sake of fighting its
own particular corner; what matters is that every group will be able to make
sure that its needs and concerns are known and can be taken due account of
in the co-operative process of decision-making.

The General Board's task is getting more difficult every year. There was a
time when members of the Board could be really well-informed about every
branch of the University's academic activities and closely in touch with all
their problems. That is almost impossible now. The General Board tries very
hard and does its best, but those difficult decisions about priorities will be
much better made within the divisions, where it will be easier for the members
of divisional boards to be fully informed about the issues in depth.

It is therefore right that the centre should get smaller and that power should
pass to colleagues in the divisions, elected by a democratic process. It is
important, too, to bear in mind that the divisions will be essentially democratic
bodies. They will not be the compliant courtiers of a mighty prince. Heads of
division will act by consensus, as any effective head of department has to do.
Moreover, they will hold office for five years at most and will be removable.
A divisional head without the support of his or her board or of the faculties
under that board could not be effective and would have to be removed.

What we are asking for today is the approval of this House for the proposals
that outline the main structure of the new system. I therefore ask this House
to support the first six resolutions and Resolutions (9)--(13) and to support
either Resolution (7), for two arts divisions, or Resolution (8) for one arts
division, as the House thinks best.

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Professor F.G.B. Millar (Brasenose College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, as a member of the Hebdomadal Council, but not of the
Working Party, I strongly support the broad lines of the proposals, which
should give the University an effective and coherent structure for taking
decisions. But it must also be a structure which fits with Oxford's long
tradition of democracy. In this respect, the proposals are still seriously
defective for, in a democratic system, the key positions must depend on
election, not on selection from above. There are in my opinion four areas of

Firstly, the new Council. Only ten out of twenty-three members will be elected
directly by Congregation. Furthermore, there is provision for up to three
co-opted members. It was only yesterday that Council determined that these
must indeed be members of Congregation. Even with that change, co-optation
is not appropriate to the proposed single University Council. The power of
co-optation should be removed and direct election of three more members put
in its place. Even then, only thirteen out of twenty-six members will have
been elected by Congregation.

Second, the four major committees of Council. There will be too few elected
members of Council to fill these effectively, and how members will be chosen
for them is not yet clear. We need an element of representative government
here too. I propose that there should be direct election by Congregation of
three members to each of these four major committees.

Third, the proposed heads of divisions. This is a key feature of the proposals.
The heads of divisions will have very important divisional functions, obviously
enough, and they will also have ex officio seats on the new Council.
Yet, amazing as it may seem, the words `heads of divisions' do not even occur
anywhere in the general resolutions which are before Congregation today. So,
formally speaking, those who wish to support the proposal to have heads of
divisions cannot vote for it and those who oppose it cannot vote against it.
I in fact support it in broad terms. But the intended method of appointment
is undemocratic. The proposed procedure is contained in para. 8 of the
annexe. It is that heads of divisions should be appointed by committees of
five: the Vice-Chancellor, two members of Council, and two representatives of
the division. The representatives of the division will thus be in a minority.
The proposal should be changed to give representatives of the divisions a
substantial majority. I would suggest committees of nine, somewhat as for
electoral boards, with six from the division. This is essential if, as a I hope,
the heads of divisions are to be accepted as truly representing the divisions
which they head.

Finally, Pro-Vice-Chancellors. The proposal to appoint Pro-Vice-Chancellors
with specified functions is in fact important and valuable. We need a system
in which responsibilities at the centre are shared out more widely. But it
follows that they ought not to be simply nominees of the Vice-Chancellor of
the day; they should be appointed by a public procedure for fixed terms. At
the moment it is not even clearly stated anywhere that such
Pro-Vice-Chancellors must already be members of Congregation, although no
doubt it is assumed. But even with such a restriction, which is obvious, the
allocation of important central functions by the Vice-Chancellor to persons
whom he chooses with no check other than the assent of Council is in my view
not acceptable. We should adopt the rule that Pro-Vice-Chancellors may be
appointed only from among the directly elected members of Council or from
directly elected members of its four main committees.

Far from weakening the proposed structure, these changes, which are actually
quite small and easily brought in, would greatly strengthen it. They would
give democratic legitimacy to the new Council, to its four major committees,
and to the heads of divisions.

To repeat: I support the broad lines of these proposals. But, because they
embody a significant democratic deficit, I intend to vote against General
Resolution (2) on the composition of Council; against Resolution (4) on the
composition of the four main committees; and against Resolution (5) on the
appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellors. I would vote against the general
resolution on heads of divisions, if there were one. I sincerely hope that the
votes of Congregation will encourage reconsideration of many fundamental
issues before legislation is put forward.

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Dr P.A. Slack (Principal of Linacre College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, seeing you introduce this debate today, the historian in
me was reminded of Lord John Russell introducing the Great Reform Bill to the
House of Commons in 1831. Michael Brock tells us that Russell was `very pale
and subdued', and understandably so. On hearing for the first time the parts
of the old constitution which were going to be swept away, Sir Robert Peel,
we are told, `turned black' and held his head in his hands, and even
government backbenchers muttered: `They're all mad, they must be mad.' I was
very glad that no such reaction could have been reasonably expected today,
given that governance has been on our collective agendas for more than two
years in the shape of reports of the Commission and the Joint Working Party
and wide consultation about them.

Professor Millar, if I may turn to him, is anyway much too experienced a hand
to turn black and much too polite to accuse his colleagues on Council of
insanity. But I would like nevertheless to try to address some of the concerns
he has raised. I think I can best deal with them by reference to the central
principles which inform the thinking of the Joint Working Party, of which I
was a member.

The first of them is the need for coherent strategic planning at the centre.
There can scarcely be any dispute about that. It is a central theme of the
North Report and you have referred to it yourself today, Mr Vice-Chancellor.
But it has practical implications for the central structure if strategic direction
is going to be effective. Not only does it mean a single Council in place of
Council and the General Board, it means that heads of division need to be on
Council and on its most important committees. It also means that the
Vice-Chancellor, as the chief responsible officer, must be at the head of a
coherent team in which he and the Council can have complete confidence.
Hence the proposals for Pro-Vice-Chancellors in selected areas, since the
Vice-Chancellor cannot handle everything, and for those Pro-Vice-Chancellors
to be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor, but only appointed with the agreement
of Council. Hence, too, the need for a central voice in the appointment of
heads of division and so the proposed appointing bodies chaired by the
Vice-Chancellor with equal representation of Council and the relevant
divisional board.

Professor Millar suggested in his article in the Oxford Magazine
that all this gave `too extensive a right of patronage' to the Vice-Chancellor.
But that depends, I think, on the highly unlikely conjuncture of a
Vice-Chancellor with clients in his pocket and a wholly compliant Council. When
we turn to the composition of Council, we find not only ten members directly
elected by Congregation (or eleven if there are only four boards) but two
external members to give an external perspective, themselves approved by
Congregation, the Proctors and Assessor and two representatives of the
Conference of Colleges: a total of seventeen or eighteen out of a maximum
Council membership of twenty-six. That seems to me scarcely a structure
without in-built constitutional checks.

The second principle, illustrated in the composition of Council, is
representation; not so much representation through direct election by
Congregation, though that is provided for of course in the case of Council and
in the case of the committee nominating the Vice-Chancellor; but rather a
deliberately balanced representation of the relevant interests needed in each
of the central bodies, a balance which Congregation elections have sometimes
failed to deliver in the past. That is why inter-collegiate bodies---the
Conference, Senior Tutors, Tutors for Graduates, Estates Bursars, and the
Joint Undergraduate Admissions Committee---are to be represented on Council
and central committees, and in slightly increased number in response to the
consultation exercise.

The same considerations underlie the proposed provisions for co-opted
members, as in the case of the most important of all committees, the Planning
and Resource Allocation Committee `to ensure', in the words of the Working
Party, `that it adequately reflects the range of interests in the collegiate
University'. It is vitally important that the central bodies are in that sense
reflective, so that proposals, initiatives, warnings, protests can be channelled
upwards to inform planning, resource allocation, and other activities at the

The third principle of course is devolution downwards: devolution of
decision-making and the necessary resources to the lowest appropriate level.
No doubt other speakers will be commenting on this when we come on to the
resolutions about divisions. But I mention it now because it is absolutely
crucial to the proposals for the central bodies. It is what will allow them the
time to concentrate on strategy and the opportunity to react constructively
and quickly to plans coming up from below. It is intended to promote the
maximum possible local involvement in decisions and responsibility for those
decisions. At the divisional level, for example, the report makes clear that
authority `must formally be vested in the divisional boards, not in the heads
of divisions themselves'. Devolution of authority is essential if there is to be
broad and effective participation; and it is that which prevents the structure
of governance being a `centralising top-down structure', as Professor Millar
has claimed. It is absolutely central to the proposals that the structure is, as
Professor Matthew says in the same issue of the Oxford Magazine,
`devolved as well as streamlined'.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I hope that Congregation will agree on the need for a
streamlined and devolved structure as soon as it can be put in place and that
it will give its support to the resolutions.

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Professor A.D. Smith (Lady Margaret Hall)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, members of Congregation, I would just like to say a very
few words. I am speaking to you as Chairman of the Bioscience Research Board
and as head of one of the science departments in the Pre-clinical Medical
School. As I said to Congregation on a previous occasion, the Bioscience
Research Board, which represents all the biological and medical departments
in the University, has felt for a very long time that a change in the
governance structure of the University is essential if we are to maintain, let
alone improve, our position as one of the world's leading universities in
research as well as in teaching.

As the North Commission and the Working Party recognised, there is an urgent
need for the University as a whole to develop strategies, to be proactive and
not just to respond, often without proper consideration, to external initiatives,
as the Vice-Chancellor mentioned earlier.

The central bodies need to be liberated from the micro-management of
resources if they are to develop strategies, and the new divisional structure
will greatly enable this. The divisions will in turn develop strategies in their
own specialised areas and will manage their resources in, I believe, a
democratic and transparent manner, fully involving their constituent

Perhaps I can give you an example of strategic thinking which came about
during the actual debate, which I feel was very democratic, Mr
Vice-Chancellor, in the biosciences on the Working Party's first set of
proposals. The Bioscience Research Board, with its constituent faculty boards,
came to the unanimous opinion that there should be a single division of
medical sciences, incorporating both pre-clinical and clinical medical
departments, together with the Department of Experimental Psychology. But
this apparently left the remaining life sciences departments without a home.
The Anthropology and Geography Board then proposed that they should join
with the life sciences in a new division, to be called Life and Environmental
Sciences. This imaginative proposal was welcomed on all sides. It creates a
division with a mission; it gives new impetus to part of the University that
is already very dynamic; and, not to be forgotten, it shows to the world at
large that Oxford can move with the times.

Members of Congregation, it is frankly hard to imagine how such a
transformation could happen under the present governance structure. A
strategy dynamic of this kind augurs well for the future success of the new
governance structure.

I believe, Mr Vice-Chancellor, that I am privileged today to speak for the
great majority of those in the biosciences and medicine, comprising (as you
can see from the histograms in the Gazette) a total of 2,758 people,
or 54 per cent of all university staff. I say on behalf of this large number of
people that we warmly welcome the proposals of the Working Party on
governance; that we look forward to implementing them in a democratic
manner; and that we can see no better way for this University to move
forward into the future.

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Dr A.B. Hawkins (Kellogg College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, if I could be forgiven for being very brief, I would simply
like to express the view that Continuing Education welcomes the proposals put
forward by the Joint Working Party and welcomes them as an opportunity for
more devolved and more streamlined structures, and providing for greater
strategic thinking. We also welcome the recognition given to the Continuing
Education activity of the University and I therefore hope that all members of
Congregation will vote for the resolution.

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Professor Sir Michael Dummett (New College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I hope you will correct me if I have misunderstood
anything, but I want to make a remark about General Resolution (12). General
Resolution (12) refers to para. 71 (l) of the report. Para. 71
(l) includes the following two proposals: the minimum number of
members of Congregation required to propose a resolution should be raised
from twelve to twenty, and the number of members present at a meeting of
Congregation required to vote in favour of a resolution, for that vote to be
binding, i.e. binding on the Council, should be increased from seventy-five to

These two proposals are streamlining proposals; they are proposals intended
to emasculate Congregation. It will be virtually impossible to guarantee 125
people to vote against a resolution proposed by Council. If that fails, you
have to get---I do not know what number it is---450 signatures, within two
hours, for a postal vote. I do not know exactly what it is, but it is some very
large number.[1] These proposals
are intended to emasculate this body and I hope very much that members of
this House will vote against that resolution.

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Mr A.J. Nicholls (St Antony's College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I am Chairman of the Committee of Tutors for Graduates,
and I wish to make a comment on the resolutions in so far as they affect
graduate studies. When the first proposals of the Working Party on
Governance were presented to us, the Committee of College Tutors for
Graduates wrote to the secretary of the Working Party expressing our concern
about the limited reference to graduate studies in the document. In particular,
we were unhappy that there did not seem to be an identifiable body
responsible for graduate studies in the University, nor was there an
identifiable person, as is now the case with the Chairman of the Graduate
Studies Committee of the General Board, who would be responsible for
overseeing policy towards graduate studies and ensuring that graduate
teaching is provided effectively. We received an assurance that the Working
Party did ascribe importance to this issue.

I am bound to say that the revised report by the Working Party has not
entirely reassured me or our Standing Committee. Naturally, we were pleased
that para. 25 of the report begins by saying that the Working Party took
very seriously the need to develop within the new structure much better
mechanisms for the consideration of graduate issues. It is right that the
Educational Policy and Standards Committee will have responsibility for
graduate studies as an issue of the first importance. But the precise manner
in which graduate studies will be given the attention which many of us feel
is needed is not set out in the document. Instead, there is reference to a
review of operations at the end of five years, which should pay attention to
the question of whether the general desire for a better focus for graduate
studies has been realised.

It does seem to me, Mr Vice-Chancellor, that this is not a very satisfactory
way of ensuring that the important objectives the University has set itself in
graduate education are attained. Those objectives were set out in the Roberts
Report, reinforced by Professor Southwood's Working Party and reiterated by
the North Commission. They include the need to think positively and
proactively about graduate studies from an institutional perspective; to meet
the need for consistent and fair quality assurance procedures across the
University as a whole; and to meet the demand from graduate students for a
clearly identified body solely concerned for the promotion of graduate

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I have no intention of opposing the resolutions before the
House, but I would like to record my view that more attention must still be
given to the concrete measures which need to be taken to ensure that in the
field of graduate education this University remains competitive with graduate
schools in other universities, both on the national and the international level.

I hope therefore that the Chair of the Educational Policy and Standards
Committee will regard it as his or her role to champion graduate education
within the University and that each of the major academic divisions will be
expected to establish a body with similar duties to the existing graduate
studies committee of the General Board.

One other recommendation in the Working Party's most recent report which
gave me serious cause for concern was the suggestion in para.34 that the
subcommittee of the Personnel Committee, which will have responsibility for
overseeing joint appointments, would not include specific representation of
graduate interests, but that these would be covered by the Chairman of the
Senior Tutors' Committee. With great respect to that institution, I must point
out that it would be putting its Chairman in an invidious position to expect
him to represent graduate interests, since his own committee is bound to be
overwhelmingly concerned with undergraduate needs.

It is therefore essential that there is a member of that subcommittee entirely
concerned to ensure that, when the terms of such appointments are decided,
the needs of graduate teaching should be taken fully into account. If this is
not the case, I fear that the good intentions about improving graduate
provision within a collegiate university expressed in both the North
Commission's report and the Working Party's papers will not be put into
effect. I should be grateful if these opinions are noted by those called upon
to implement the resolutions we are being asked to vote on today, resolutions
which in general I strongly support.

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Professor H.G.M. Williamson (Christ Church)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I should like to make two comments, the first on behalf of
the Oriental Studies Faculty Board, which I currently chair, and the other on
behalf of the three smallest humanities faculties in the University.

First, while we fully understand the logic of administrative convenience and
symmetry which lies behind the Working Party's preferred option of having
separate divisions for the humanities and the social sciences, we are
nevertheless concerned that this represents a failure to understand the
nature of teaching and research in Oriental Studies in the modern world.

In recent decades, the faculty has come a long way since we were all
primarily philologists. This was recognised by the University when our name
was changed from Oriental Languages to Oriental Studies. While naturally
individual colleagues retain their own fields of expertise, our concern these
days is to study many of the most ancient as well as populous civilisations of
the world in as comprehensive a manner as possible on the basis of primary
sources in the relevant languages. This inevitably means that in principle we
are concerned with such disciplines as economics, sociology, and anthropology,
alongside the more traditional subjects of language, literature, religion,
history, archaeology, law, and art. The balance at present may still be firmly
on the humanities side, but to box us into a humanities division, separated
from a social sciences one, no matter how much liaison there is between them,
is likely to inhibit the kinds of development which Oxford should be playing
a leading international role in promoting.

The matter can be most easily demonstrated by the way in which the Working
Party has treated area studies, which at present come under the aegis of
eight inter-faculty committees or similar bodies. Of these, four fall within the
region covered by our faculty, and in most cases there is a very substantial
body of overlap in terms of post-holders.

Earlier this year, I informally invited representatives of these bodies to meet
to exchange views and information in the light of the Working Party's
preliminary report. I was astonished to find that, so far as anyone could
remember, such a meeting had never been held before, and yet nearly all had
experienced similar problems in the recent past. It is gratifying to see that
someone has obligingly scattered the words `especially area studies' in
brackets at various points in the report in response to our joint submission
on the matter, but the good impression thus created is then ruined by the
distribution of these bodies seemingly at random between the two proposed
arts divisions. By what possible rationale, for instance, can Chinese Studies
be listed among the humanities, but Japanese among the social sciences? And
how can our faculty, whose long-term plan incorporates the submissions of
most of these bodies, proceed to develop in the new century if a coach and
horses is being driven between the work of our various colleagues?

Since I am sure that in Oxford we all agree that administrative structures
work best when they reflect intellectual realities rather than the other way
about, I would urge members of Congregation to vote in favour of the
alternative option of a single division for the arts.

Secondly, and more briefly, the report is careful to state that the interests
of small units must be safeguarded in the new arrangements, and this is
welcome. Yet it is noteworthy that three faculties, namely, Music, Theology,
and Oriental Studies, have no automatic representation on the divisional
boards. Under proposal 8.1, the three faculty boards would jointly elect three
representatives. It would, we believe, be more sensible explicitly to assign one
representative to each. Under proposal 8.3 (a single arts division), the three
boards would share only two representatives between them. There is a strong
hint, however, that this might be made up by co-optation. In that case, we
should find it a great deal more reassuring if it could be enshrined in the
legislation that in fact each faculty is guaranteed its own representative.

This of course does not affect support for the broad outline of the proposals
on we shall be asked to vote, but we hope that it may be taken into
consideration when definitive proposals for the divisional boards are brought
forward in due course.

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Mr P.N. Mirfield (Jesus College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, members of Congregation, I will speak only briefly, not
least because I hope I may be pushing at an open door, though what the last
speaker said suggests that perhaps I am not. It does seem to me that the
balance of three, or is it two-and-seven-eighths, two-and-three-quarters?
science departments/science boards/divisions, against two-and-a-quarter,
two-and-an-eighth arts/humanities/non-science/social science divisions is just
about bearable. Two against one in the original proposals was not bearable,
it seems to me, in terms of the overall intellectual involvement of the
University. The proposal of roughly two to three may be just bearable, but
a notion of three to one I am afraid I find unbearable. I wish in effect that
the Working Party had kept its nerve on this one. It is clear that the Working
Party does favour the two:three structure, if I can call it that for
simplification, but decided that the consultation was not such as to suggest
that it could come forward with a clear recommendation that it be two rather
than one.

I am not sure that it got its sums entirely convincingly right. If you actually
look at paras. 43 and 44 of the second report, you find that two large arts
faculties, Modern History and English, were in favour of two, rather than one;
you find that Social Studies, of the large faculties, was against two and in
favour of one; and you find three smaller faculties or departments in favour
and one against. Then Law and Management Studies are read as against, but
against, only in the sense that they wanted a sort of---what is the word?-
--`high roller' division for people to be paid more money, as far as I can see.
I would not have favoured that so far as Law was concerned anyway, but I
would be terribly surprised if those who did would prefer, if that fails, for
there to be only one arts/humanities/social studies board. I find that
inconceivable and I therefore urge everyone to vote for two rather than one
in Congregation today and in the postal vote which will take place later. If I
may say so, I hope that that argument will appeal no less to scientists than
to the rest of us.

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Professor A.W. Roscoe (University College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, in addressing Congregation, I find myself in a curious
position, because I am the chairman of a body, namely, the Mathematical
Sciences Faculty Board, whose dearest hope is no longer to exist.

I should say at the outset that my faculty is content to be integrated in the
proposed Physical and Mathematical Sciences Division. It is a detail of this
integration that I want to question.

One reason why I am speaking today is that the proposals in the Working
Party's report, if implemented as worded, will make the demise which my board
desires difficult. I also want to show why the proposals, again as worded, are
unfair to my faculty.

The long-standing culture of Mathematics in this University is closer to arts
than to science. College teaching is dominated by CUF lecturers; the central
department has much less space and is much more poorly funded than any
comparable science department. Despite this, it has achieved considerable
success. For example, Oxford was the only university in the country to obtain
5* in both pure and applied mathematics in the last RAE.

But the Mathematics Department is not the same, despite what a lot of people
think, as the Mathematical Sciences Faculty. For example, I am not a member
of the Mathematics Department.

Over the past twenty years or so, two other departments have been spawned
off from Mathematics: the Computing Laboratory, which is the University's
Department of Computer Science, and the Department of Statistics. These are
both thriving enterprises that value their independence and are far more
typical of science departments. Furthermore, they now represent a sizeable
proportion of the faculty. (I should explain that I am a member of the
Computing Laboratory.)

The Mathematical Institute was formally made into a department in 1993, which
created some semblance of symmetry within the faculty. However, the
administrative structures show every sign of being what they are, namely,
those of an arts faculty patched to take account of the changes that I have
described. Our faculty board, two sub-faculties, and three departments have
confusingly overlapping roles.

It should come as little surprise, then, that there is a universal feeling in the
faculty that we should seize the opportunity that the reorganisation offers to
produce a streamlined and efficient structure. The most redundant body, and
one that would have no analogue in the rest of the division that we are
joining, is the faculty board. Imagine our disappointment then, in reading the
Working Party's report, to discover that Mathematical Sciences was being
included in the new division with just three representatives as one
constituency on the divisional board.

Any perception of Mathematical Sciences as a quasi-`department' alongside the
five current Physical Sciences departments, alongside which it is listed, is
wrong, for there is no such department. Not only is it impossible for the
University to create a successful Mathematical Sciences Department without the
injection of a large amount of money, which does not seem to be there, but
at least two of our existing departments would regard this as an undesirable
and backwards move. My faculty board accepts that the best way forward is
for each of the three departments that it consists of to enter the division in
its own right.

There seems to be no reasonable way in which Mathematical Sciences can
operate within the new division, given the level of representation proposed,
without retaining a co-ordinating body like the faculty board, which we are
keen to dispose of.

Needless to say, if departments like Mathematics and Computer Science are
given less direct access to the machinery of the new division than other
comparable departments, for example, Engineering and Earth Sciences, then we
will feel (and I think be) marginalised. These prospects fill me and the three
heads of department with gloom.

There is, moreover, a powerful numerical argument. Physical Sciences
outnumbers Mathematical Sciences by about two-and-a-half to one in terms
both of established staff members and of student numbers. However, the
Working Party's recommendation is that Physical Sciences should have thirteen
allocated places and Mathematical Sciences three. This ratio of
four-and-a-third to one scarcely seems fair. Give the departments of
Mathematical Sciences six places in comparison to those thirteen, and a parity
is restored.

I do not ask you to vote against any of the resolutions before us today.
Indeed, we welcome the broad thrust of the proposed changes in the
University's governance. The Vice-Chancellor has kindly informed us that the
question of exactly how, and with what representation, the departments of
Mathematical Sciences are integrated into the new division is a matter for later
legislation. We note the word `broadly' in Resolution (9). However, he did ask
that the views of my faculty be put before you.

I hope that these remarks, fully supported by the three heads of department,
will result in a second round of legislation that allows us to operate
effectively in the twenty-first century.

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Dr T.M.R. Ellis (Christ Church)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, unlike all the previous speakers, I wish to talk primarily
about General Resolution (10), which, to remind you, is that `this House
approve the proposals for the academic services set out in ... the report.'
Before I do that, I would like just to say that while I broadly support the
general thrust of the proposals, I am a bit concerned that the structure
proposed does appear to consider form to be more important than substance
in some areas. This is particularly appropriate in the discussion of academic

First of all though, I have to admit that I have a slight difficulty with this
section of the report, because nowhere does it actually define what these
`academic services' are. The report does recommend the creation of a
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Services who, we are told, will cover
libraries, IT, and museums. This, as far as I can see, is the nearest the report
comes to defining `academic services', and yet the Working Party's first report
states that the academic services consist of `museums, libraries, information
technology, telecommunications, buildings and administration', which is very
similar to the definition used in the North Commission report.

So what has happened to the buildings and administration? Are they going to
form yet more sectors in addition to all the others? And what about units
such as the Language Centre, the Botanic Garden, the Careers Service, and
a whole lot of others which are not libraries, museums, or, however you define
it, IT. It would be nice if, before the vote is taken, somebody could indicate
exactly which departments and institutions are covered by `academic services'
and what is going to happen to those that are not.

Let me now, however, turn to one of the academic services which is (albeit
very briefly) mentioned in the report, namely, the one that I am director of
[the Educational Technology Resources Centre]. And here I have to confess
that my original intention was to come here to formally move an amendment to
General Resolution (10) which would have added the words `subject to the
proviso that the head of each academic service shall be a member of the
committee overseeing that service, or of a management committee for that
service which reports directly to the over-arching committee.'

Those of you used to the democratic nature of academic faculties might find
it astonishing that it could even be suggested that the head of an academic
service would not be a member of his supervising committee, but that is the
way it is at the moment in this University. It is rather strange. I was at a
meeting of the Standing Conference of Heads of Media Services in Sheffield
earlier this week---in fact, I had to dash down the M1 in a record time to get
here---and I asked if anybody else was in that situation, and, not entirely to
my surprise, there was absolutely nobody else in any other university, as far
as I could see, in the whole country who was in that situation.

Here in Oxford, the IT Committee oversees both the Oxford University
Computing Services and the Educational Technology Resources Centre, and this
pattern is proposed to continue in the new arrangement. Neither of the
relevant directors is a member of that committee, although the Director of the
Computing Services does attend all its meetings as its technical secretary. I
do not attend its meetings and in fact I am not even allowed to attend them
when I ask. But this is more than just an accident of history, because it has
a serious negative effect; and I would just like to illustrate the problems that
can arise from this perhaps convenient, but rather strange, system of remote

As a result of a review of my department, there is now a fund called the
ETRC Teaching Support Fund, from which any member of academic staff or
department, can apply to obtain money to help them to use the services of my
department in support of teaching. (We have to charge for everything we do.)
The intention was that those faculties and departments which do not have
much money would be funded in this way, whilst the rich departments would
pay for themselves. Recently the IT Committee, following the rules which they
had set for handling this, made a decision which would actually have very
seriously damaged the final degree projects of a handful of undergraduates
in the Ruskin School. We have always provided support for some of them, and
now of course somebody has to pay. This would have meant that these
students would not have been able to submit their final projects this year in
the way they intended to. I hardly need to say they are going to be allowed
to, because we are paying for it ourselves. But the fact that this arose was
simply because of a lack of communication as a result of decisions being made
without the possibility of the people concerned being there. I do not think
that that is the sort of governance that we should be moving towards.

I said I had intended to propose an amendment to ensure that this could not
continue in the future. That I have not done so is due to the fact that it was
suggested to me that an appropriate time to bring this up would be at the
detailed legislation stage, rather than now. But I wanted to bring to the
attention of Congregation that this is an issue which may occur, for all I
know, in all parts of academic services as well.

Before I finish, I would like to make two final points. These both in a sense
affect what is a small department in this University, but one which is, I
believe, of considerable importance. In the twenty-first century the use of
media in teaching is going to become increasingly important. Oxford is
probably one of the most backward universities in the civilised world in its
use of media in teaching anyway, but it is changing quite rapidly. I think
therefore that the University's central service in this area is perhaps a
department that we should consider to be of some importance anyway. The
current arrangement is something of an aberration. When the department was
originally planned to be set up ten years ago, it was suggested that it would
report jointly to the IT Committee and to the Academic Staff Development
Committee, a clear recognition of the importance of media in teaching. For
various reasons, primarily, I believe, the fact that it was felt that a
management committee of this type would have no particular influence in the
corridors of power, this was changed to reporting to the Academic Computing
Services Committee, which of course knew very little about television and
audiovisual matters, but it did have a certain amount of clout where it
mattered. That actually worked quite well until two years ago, when it was
wound up. Now we report directly to the IT Committee. The IT Committee is
primarily concerned with high-level strategy for institutional IT, and I would
argue that this is not the right sort of committee to be having a direct
supervisory role over a department which is really nothing to do with IT at
all; it just happens to use IT, like many other departments do.

So I would like to suggest at this stage that perhaps, when it comes down to
looking at the legislative procedures, this small department should be moved
from its present position of reporting to the IT Committee in one of two
possible ways. One of those would be to recognise the fact that, at present,
and increasingly in the future the main clients of the ETRC are likely to come
from the humanities. Most of the science departments increasingly look after
themselves. We obviously help them where we can, but our main clients come
from the humanities. That was recognised last year by the General Board's
Review Committee for the department.

So one suggestion would be that one should bite this bullet and, rather than
having the ETRC as a central department somewhere in IT or something else,
move it fairly and squarely into either the single arts division or into one of
the two arts and humanities divisions and recognise that its primary role is
to support teaching in the humanities, and it can still help other people from

If that is too radical an option, I would suggest an alternative would be that
it should report to the Academic Staff Development Committee, alongside the
Staff Development and Training Unit, thereby in a sense constituting an
embryonic version of the sort of learning resources unit which increasingly
is becoming important in many other universities.

So to conclude, I would like to urge those responsible for progressing the
proposals to look at these areas, to recognise that heads of services should
be on their management committees and particularly to consider that the ETRC
should be placed somewhere other than as an IT department.

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Professor Sir Michael Dummett (New College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, since we were talking in connection with Resolution (9) in
such detail, I want to make a point of detail about Philosophy. If there are to
be these two divisions, humanities and social sciences, the proposal is that
there should be three representatives from the Faculty of Literae Humaniores.
That faculty comprises three sub-faculties: Philosophy, Classical Languages
and Literature, and Ancient History. It does so for historical reasons, because
of the Final Honour School of Greats. The Sub-faculty of Philosophy, which
comprises, I think, about sixty people, has at least twice pleaded to be allowed
to secede and become a separate faculty. But both times it has been blocked
by the votes of the members of the other two sub-faculties on the Literae
Humaniores Board, although Philosophy now is no longer exclusively linked
with the classics, but figures in several other final honour schools. Obviously,
if this proposal is adopted as it stands, there will probably be one
representative of each of the three sub-faculties within Literae Humaniores:
three historians, three modern linguists, and, if we are lucky, one philosopher.
I think that that is actually unjust. Since the representative of Oriental
Studies spoke so eloquently about the injustice and short-sightedness of the
proposed arrangements as regards his faculty, I thought I would just make
this plea on behalf of a subject which has been quite important in this

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Dr J.H.R. Davis (Warden of All Souls College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I want to speak very briefly about General Resolution (11)
and, in particular, in that resolution the clause concerning the term of office
of the Vice-Chancellor.

My main reason for wanting to talk about this is that if the term is extended,
it will make it very difficult to attract the right candidates to the office of
Vice-Chancellor: five years extending to ten.[2] NAME="2note"> I can see that in universities which are strongly
centralised, with monolithic structures, it is useful to have chief executives
who are dedicated to management, and who are contented to spend their last
years in employment at the pinnacle of a hierarchy. But Oxford is not highly
centralised, and one of its great strengths and advantages is its pluralist
organisation, accommodating diverse structures and interests in a system that
is indeed complex, but which works well enough to support the successful
creative endeavours of the members of the University.

If we want to preserve this against the considerable outside pressures, we
should try to choose Vice-Chancellors who are in sympathy with it, men or
women who are admired for their success in working effectively and
parsimoniously within a pluralist organisation and who, for the general good,
will devote a reasonable number of years (four years) to representing the
University to the outside world, to helping it to adjust in a changing
environment, and to reconciling different interests in a collegial way.

Are we more likely to get people of this kind if the term is for up to seven
years? People of this kind are very scarce and they are valuable to their
colleges and their departments and faculties. Would these colleges,
departments, and faculties really want to let them go for such a long time? It
is said that a professor, fellow, head of house, Fellow of the Royal Society,
would normally resign his or her other posts in order to take up the
Vice-Chancellorship and would not expect to return to them when they retired
from that office. But is it not one of the attractions of Oxford that the holder
will eventually return to normal college and departmental life? Indeed, I
imagine it is to some extent a sanction on Vice-Chancellors that they ask
themselves from time to time: `Will I be able to live with this when I'm back
among my departmental colleagues or members of my college?'

The Vice-Chancellor is, in the present contemporary world, of necessity a
manager, a chief executive, and it is important to us that they should be good
at that kind of work. But we, in a pluralist University, want men and women
who know and understand and value our kind of civil society, in which
managerialism is only one strand. I think that a five- to seven-year term is
unlikely to attract such people, requiring too much of a sacrifice from them
and from their colleagues; and in fact I think that such a term is likely to
attract eager beavers, single-minded managers, obviously ones who are good
at the job, but ones who do not hope or expect to return to their posts to
enjoy the fruits of their labour and the companionship of their erstwhile
temporary subjects.

These are considerations, Mr Vice-Chancellor, which lead me at present to
resist the proposals to alter the length of your office. I hope that I shall hear
arguments which could persuade me otherwise.

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Sir David Smith (President of Wolfson College)

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I wish to speak in support of General Resolution (11), but
I would like to begin with remarks relating to General Resolution (9) about the
appointments of heads of division, because that leads into my view of
Resolution (11).

My support of both of these resolutions stems from the fact that, while most
of my academic career has been in Oxford, I was Principal and Vice-Chancellor
of the University of Edinburgh for almost seven years during a period when
it made radical changes to its structure of governance, some of which closely
resemble those now proposed for Oxford.

When I moved from Oxford to Edinburgh in 1987, the same kind of confusing,
time-consuming, but inefficient decision-making procedures existed there
which, sadly, still afflict us here in Oxford even today. Processes of resource
allocation were very obscure to the great majority of staff, who felt they had
little or no real influence on key decisions made at the centre of the
University. The changes we made to improve this situation included grouping
faculties into four divisions and delegating down to those divisions from the
centre much of the kinds of responsibilities that are being proposed today in
Oxford. The changes proved very successful and, when they were reviewed
after three years, nobody wished to revert to the previous system. Faculties
and departments had acquired much more influence over matters which
directly affected them, and strategic planning for the future became easier
and more clear-cut. Crucially, the simplifying and streamlining of
decision-making procedures reduced the amount of time wasted in tedious
hours of dilatory discussions by ineffectual committees. The amount of time
available for academic work actually increased.

The heads of divisions played a key role in this success, but their task was
not easy. On the one hand, they worked collectively together with the
Vice-Chancellor and others in the centre of the University to promote the
academic prosperity of the institution as a whole. On the other hand, they
used their experience and knowledge of the wider University to help their
own particular divisions to operate as effectively as possible. They had to
have the support, respect, and confidence of academic colleagues in their
divisions and at the same time participate effectively and centrally in the
overall governance of the University. This complex and difficult job required
an unusual mixture of administrative and political talents, and it was not easy
to find the most suitable persons. They rarely volunteered and usually had
to be persuaded by their colleagues.

It is this past experience of mine which leads me to support strongly the way
in which it is proposed in Oxford to appoint heads of divisions. To begin with,
the Vice-Chancellor must be involved, because it has to be someone in whom
he has confidence and with whom he feels he can work closely. We must not
forget that it is the Vice-Chancellor whom the Funding Council (and ultimately
the Public Accounts Committee) will regard as the individual who bears
financial responsibility for the expenditure of the large sums of public money
allocated to the University. Since, under our proposed new structure of
governance, responsibility for large parts of this money will now be delegated
down to divisions, it is only fair and sensible that the Vice-Chancellor should
be involved in the appointment of heads of divisions.

Likewise, the interests of the wider University need also to be involved, and
this is satisfied by the proposal to have two members of Council on the
appointment committee. Of course, it is inconceivable that anyone would be
appointed head of division who did not have the confidence and respect of
that division, and having two persons from the division amongst the five on
the appointment committee will ensure that the views of the division are
effectively represented.

This appointment procedure has been described by others as being too much
`top-down'. Such a description implies that being a head of division has a
one-dimensional quality. To my way of thinking, it is in fact multi-dimensional,
since the appointee has to interact in a range of different directions: with the
faculties and departments in the division; with other heads of division; with
Council and most of its major committees; and with the Vice-Chancellor and
Pro-Vice-Chancellors. I therefore believe that the appointment of heads of
divisions should reflect this multi-dimensional nature of the job.

Finally, if I could turn to the lengths of time for which it is proposed that
heads of divisions and the Vice-Chancellor should serve. In most universities,
including Oxford, it is generally accepted that the minimum length of service
of, say, the head of a large science department, should be three years. It is
therefore common sense that the more complex task of being head of division
should last for five years, especially given the need for a degree of
continuity in the major administrative offices.

Under General Resolution (11), it is proposed that the period of office of the
Vice-Chancellor should be increased from four to five years, with the
possibility of extension to seven years in all. I personally believe that five
years is too short. It is not just that being Vice-Chancellor of a major
international university is a very complex job where the learning curve is
very steep, and so the longer the time you spend at the top of the curve, the
better it will be for the institution. It is not just the vital need for
reasonable continuity within the University itself. There is also the
all-important need for time to develop the invaluable and influential external
contacts with Funding Councils, ministers, civil servants, inter-university
bodies such as the CVCP, national academies, research councils, Commonwealth
and various European university groupings. There is no doubt that in the
past Oxford has suffered because its Vice-Chancellors have not been in office
for long enough to develop these kinds of important relationships to the

I began by referring to my experience at the University of Edinburgh and I
shall end by returning to it. After we had successfully put through all our
governance changes, the time came to advertise for my successor. After
detailed analysis, it was decided that the post be advertised for seven years
in the first instance. My eventual successor, who had previously been
Vice-Chancellor of London University, felt from his experience that this was
exactly the right length of time and was delighted to accept. I therefore hope
that in the case of this University, it will become the norm and not the
exception for the Vice-Chancellor to serve for seven years.

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Mr Vice-Chancellor

First of all, I would wish to thank all the members of Congregation for their
directness of speech, the calm, and, as it seems to me, the serious and
dispassionate discussion of these proposals. They have taken considerable
work to elaborate and have been presented to you as, in the Working Party's
view, the best outcome from the series of consultations which it has

I would want to endorse very strongly what Dr Walker said: we hope that
Congregation members will continue to provide ideas as we elaborate through
the consequential legislation. I think it is important that there should continue
to be a flow of opinion. Of the views that were represented today, it seems
to me that, where there have been differences of views they have been
answeree, and I do not really want to enter into much of the detail. I would
simply say that although, for example, Professor Millar and the President of
Wolfson come to the notion of the appointment of heads of division from
alternative positions, they both share a misreading of the text. The text does
not say that there shall be two members from Council; it says
there shall be two members appointed by Council. That simply
means that they could be appointed from the division. It is a question of
attempting to produce a balance of skill, a balance of acquaintance with the
problems of the division and the University, rather than simply saying that
Council shall exercise some kind of iron control through this
procedure—derived from the electoral-board model.

I do think that the appointment of Pro-Vice-Chancellors in the manner which
has been proposed is the right one. One could not, for example, have
appointed the present Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science Research under the
different form that has been suggested.

As far as the suggested intention to emasculate Congregation is concerned, I
must say that the members of Congregation are 3,200 in number and that the
increase in the number that has been proposed, from twelve to twenty and
seventy-five to 125, simply reflects the increase in the number of members of
Congregation since the lower figures were set. That is all.

I am sure that we take note of the need for the graduates to be properly
looked after. It does seem to me that now that we are proposing to have a
new committee which will spend its whole time on education policy and studies,
rather than those issues having to find their place within a much wider
activity and attention of the General Board, it is clearly the case that
graduate students and graduate studies will be addressed much more
coherently and directly. One of the first tasks incumbent upon that committee
will indeed be to address the needs of graduate students and graduate

I hope that my introductory speech opened the road necessary for those who
have wished to record here their anxieties about representation in divisions
and I do not propose to go further on that.

On academic services, it would appear of course that we have forgotten the
administration. But in fact the first report of the Working Party made it clear
that buildings should come under the oversight of the Planning and Resource
Allocation Committee, and that the administration should be managed by the
Registrar, who will continue to be responsible to Council; the second report
has telecommunications coming under the IT Committee. The Botanic Garden, I
think, is part of museums and collections and should remain there. The
Careers Service should continue under its management committee, reporting to
Council. So I believe that these things have actually been covered.

On the matter of the Vice-Chancellorship, we have heard two opposing views.
(I may say that I think there was a slip of the tongue in one speech, which
was corrected later. It is not five plus five, it is five plus two; it is not a
total of ten years, it is a total of seven years.) I myself have been brought
in my experience of the Vice-Chancellorship to believe that we do need to
have a rather longer Vice-Chancellorship. I do think that the amount of
pressure that is upon the University does require a rather longer run at
managing our responses to those pressures. I do not believe that a
Vice-Chancellor surrounded by a Council, by the many checks that have been
pointed out, and by Congregation (which I do not believe that the Principal
and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh ever had to deal with),
could remain unconscious of the consequences of what he or she would do.

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Outcome of voting and arrangements for postal

General Resolutions (1)-(7) and (9)-(13) were carried, and General Resolution
(8) was rejected, on a division by the following votes.

                                   For         Against

General Resolution (1)             85          0

General Resolution (2)             73          10

General Resolution (3)             83          1

General Resolution (4)             76          8

General Resolution (5)             75          8

General Resolution (6)             78          4

General Resolution (7)             68          11

General Resolution (8)             13          58

General Resolution (9)             82          1

General Resolution (10)            80          2

General Resolution (11)            75          9

General Resolution (12)            71          13

General Resolution (13)            83          0

As previously announced (Gazette, pp. 1112, 1113), Council had
decided that the general resolutions should be put to a postal vote. The
decisions taken on 11 May were accordingly not confirmed.

Ballot papers for the postal vote are being sent to members of Congregation
and must be returned to the Registrar not later than 4 p.m. on Thursday,
27 May
, the date fixed by Mr Vice-Chancellor for holding the vote.

¶ The debate was transcribed by Beverley F. Nunnery & Co.,
Official Shorthand Writers and Tape Transcribers, Quality House, Quality Court,
Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1HP.


[1] Note by the Registrar. The present
requirement, which it is not currently proposed to change, is for fifty
signatures of members of Congregation not later than 4 p.m. on the sixth day
after the meeting (Tit. II, Sect. x, cl. 1, Statutes, 1997, p. 17;
Examination Decrees, 1998, p. 1133).

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[2] Note by the Registrar. `Ten' was a slip
the tongue for `seven': see below.

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