Senior Proctor's Oration 2004: Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4691

ORATION BY THE SENIOR PROCTOR

The following Oration was delivered in Congregation on 17 March by D.A. HILLS, MA, D.SC. (PH.D. CNAA), Fellow of Lincoln College, on demitting office as Senior Proctor.

Senior Proctor: Insignissime Vice-Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui?

Vice-Chancellor: Licet.

Senior Proctor: Seven hundred and thirty-one days ago I attended the Congregation for the admission of the new Proctors. I had just been pre-elected by Lincoln, and I wanted to see what I was letting myself in for. It didn't take long to see that I had bitten off more than I could chew; Professor Womersley's demitting speech started off by requiring of his audience a knowledge of the Greek word for buttock, and he spent some time developing alternative etymologies for the word `Proctor'. As I said shortly afterwards when I met my colleague to be, this was all too much for someone who was a habitual reader only of Motor Cycle Monthly, and I realised I must have been elected principally on the `Broadening Access' ticket. This was subsequently confirmed when the Public Orator presented you, Sir, to the Chancellor to receive your honorary degree, and a full appreciation of the wit required a knowledge of how to decline the proper noun `Balliol' in Latin. (`Praesento Balliolensi Balliolensis Balliolensem...'). The nearest I got to that was to announce the supplication of the Professor of Civil Engineering for his D.Sc., to have him escorted by Bedel Howson, former Engineering Technician, and be granted the degree by distinguished engineering colleague, the Master of St Catherine's. The only fly in the ointment was his being charged by my learned Historian colleague.

For a tutorial fellow, wrenched from the pleasures of teaching and research, occasionally dabbling in department and college administration, one's induction as a Proctor is a baptism of fire; confronted by a stark appreciation of the University's dire financial position; the straitjacket of all manner of regulations; in-trays swollen by complaints, and reminded daily of an institution ground between the millstones of financial pressure and the ever more intrusive demands of our paymasters. Congregation will not be surprised to hear that Proctors quickly develop a bleak view of the fate of the University. It would be remiss not to sympathise with the position of those concerned with our governance, and the tensions between decisions to be taken always constrained, as ever, by financial pressures of an extreme kind. External monitoring and legislation continue to make inroads into all our time, and to impose further administrative burdens. We are used, now, to measurement of our research performance, by a given, though not constant, set of criteria, in the RAE exercises. We are used to monitoring of our teaching and examining of undergraduates through the QAA, and are slightly relieved that the version we have recently undergone was a `light' (though hardly soft) touch. But additionally, we must be compliant with more general legislation applicable to all manner of businesses and institutions; first there was the Data Protection Act, which itself had far-reaching consequences, not least the vexed question of the display of Public Examinations results, followed by Equal Opportunities legislation and, most recently, by the Freedom of Information Act. I hasten to say that there is no suggestion that these procedures do anything other than push us in a direction we would, in any case, wish to follow, but the manner in which this must be demonstrated and executed is not unobtrusive. Neither is the observance of this legislation without significant administrative burden, with attendant costs, calls on academics' time, and the opening up of possibilities for litigation.

One aspect of the problems facing the University, and one that we have witnessed from a number of different vantage points during the year, has been the difficulty in conveying those problems to the academic community as a whole. Within a university as large and as complex as this there is every opportunity for mutual incomprehension and misapprehension to flourish. One of the advantages of the Proctorial system is that the Proctors and Assessor are elected officers working at the interface of a series of vital relationships, be it between the centre and the divisions or between the University and student bodies. Our exposure to views within the university is very broad, even if our understanding of some of the finer points of university finance is not always as complete as we might wish. I, myself, asked Mr Sibly and his team if they might give me a further remedial tutorial in the operation of the RAM formula (generalised or otherwise), but alas, despite their best efforts I remain in the dark. Whilst this report might itself not remain open on the desks of many, we hope it may at least serve as one further organ to present some of the key difficulties faced by the University today. Of course, everyone in the University senses the problems, but the perception is often derived from information filtered through either a college or a division. Looking back over our term in office, we feel that no one should ignore the astonishing efforts made in `Wellington Square' to allocate our meagre block income in the most equitable way possible.

A question which has, I am sure, crossed many minds here is `are the Proctors just an anachronism, which the University could well manage without?' Have they reached the end of their usefulness after 750 years, their duties more properly executed by full-time administrators? At the turn of the last century, in compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, one of James Murray's assistants offered the following definition on one of those celebrated `slips', only to be rejected by the Great Man. `Proctor. At Oxford and Cambridge Universities, each of the two officials appointed annually from among the Masters of Arts (by the colleges in turn), whose function is the maintenance of peace and good order, and the infliction of summary punishments for breaches of the university regulations. They are also ex officio members of various governing boards, and have various duties in connexion with examinations and conferring of degrees.' This superfluous slip from the first edition of OED was annotated `This was the notion of one of my assistants, from the undergraduate point of view'. [1]

In the modern student perception Proctors are, indeed, often regarded as being responsible for the enforcement of what they see as petty regulations stopping them from having legitimate fun. In the eyes of many of our colleagues, too, we are responsible for enforcing equally petty regulations on appointment of assessors, invigilators, attendance at meetings, and the like. Some wiser heads might endorse the remarks of an early sceptic who in 1814 remarked that Proctors are `frequently young men without much experience or knowledge of the world and often elated by the power entrusted to them by virtue of their office'. To everyone we can seem to be rather enveloped in the flummery of office, ever present in university ceremonial, always punctual in responding to an invitation to dinner.

We will confess that we have enjoyed the flummery of high office: though that was not the emotion I experienced as I approached the first Degree Ceremony with considerable terror, relieved only by a combination of tapes provided both by former Proctor Garfitt, and my colleague, together with endless practice in the car and before an empty Sheldonian Theatre. I have come, however, to enjoy the celebrations of achievement the ceremonies embody, their antique forms providing an assertion of the continuity of our academic values and our sense of belonging to a community of university-wide learning. The particularity of some of the elements of that ceremony, its Latinity and the bowing, ensure that the University's final rite of passage is one which underlines to our graduates the particularity, the exceptional quality of their entire educational experience here. You will be relieved to learn that the Proctorial review of the degree ceremonies does not propose radical revision of its form. The Deans for Degrees looking collectively at this topic, and representing, as they do, a typical cross-section of `dons in the quad', are recommending few changes; certainly no loss of Latin. Interestingly, the majority of graduands seem to support our wish to keep the sober and dignified nature of this event. One Dean of Degrees noted the decreasing familiarity with Latin amongst dons more generally, and wondered if the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning might usefully provide a suitable course.

We will also confess that we have enjoyed dining out (`another day, another dinner' as a colleague recently put it to me). We have been the guests of St John's, Christ Church, and St Hilda's at College Feasts; we have attended the dinners held by the affiliated military service units; we have enjoyed the jollifications at the opening of the new Chemistry and Social Services Buildings (I'm sorry, the last should, of course, be Social Studies Building: the error was inadvertently copied over from a minor inaccuracy arising at the `topping out' ceremony); we took great pleasure in the remarkable Rhodes Trust Centenary celebrations. Like degree ceremonies, an expanding proctorial waistline has centuries of tradition to commend it, though the Junior Proctor's consumption of two breakfasts at Magdalen's May Morning celebrations was somewhat de trop. All those occasions are not, however, mere jollies: they are opportunities for sections of the Collegiate University and the wider communities of its graduates, supporters, and friends to express their solidarity and shared sense of purpose. The Rhodes Trust celebrations (whatever the glitches), were a splendid demonstration of the extraordinary fund of goodwill that exists towards the University in the wider world, and it was a privilege to participate in them.

So, the Proctors play an essential role in the `dignified part of the constitution', and that may take up 5 per cent of our time, much of that outside the normal week. We note that our disciplinary role is both similar to and different from that of our predecessors. Reading the speeches of my predecessors of some fifty years ago, I find that they were preoccupied with Bonfire Night shenanigans and student breaches of the motor vehicle regulations. Car parking regulations we have passed on to the Assessor (formerly the `nice Proctor' as my predecessor put it) and the main objects of concern are no longer students but indignant members of staff. Bonfire Night has been displaced in the Proctorial in-tray by post-examination celebrations, on which more anon. But the balance of disciplinary action is shifting. We continue to be involved in examination malpractice---students continue to smuggle in revision material---but the forms of malpractice are changing. We have encountered plagiarism across a range of disciplines and in a variety of forms: close paraphrasing without acknowledgement, downloading material from the Internet, collusion between candidates. This is doubtless an inevitable result of the multiplication of the modes of assessment, but it also reflects a changing culture of learning. If, in school, achievement is measured in terms of finding the relevant Web site rather than understanding the material on it; if government dossiers can include large slabs of material procured from the Internet, what should we expect of our undergraduates? But there is a case for us all being generally more vigilant, both in terms of not tolerating the forms of soft plagiarism our students often engage in when pressed by an essay crisis, and in terms of giving more guidance. We note that students here seem much more worldly than at Cambridge: we investigated no fewer than thirteen people for possible breaches of Examination Regulations during our year, whereas our Cambridge counterparts apparently encountered only two amongst the angelic Cambridge candidates. [2] In fact, the bulk of proctorial day-to-day business is concerned with overseeing the examining process and dealing with student complaints, and these duties might take up 35 per cent of our time; rather more for the Junior Proctor. We have often reflected on this element of our work over the past year in the context of the QAA institutional audit. We have grappled (no, rather `engaged') with the new discourse of Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, Subject Benchmarks, Codes of Practice, and Subject Specifications; Self Evaluation Documents and Disciplinary Audit Trails; and we have disappeared into the morass of paper the process generates. Our admiration for those whose business is to ensure the University's compliance, the officers of EPSC, is boundless. But the process has made us wonder whether the new-style auditors might not learn a thing or two from Proctorial practice. We have been auditing since 1248; QAA is a precocious adolescent of twelve years. Oxford is unique in having officers who deal directly with all examination complaints, insulating examiners from the pressures of discontented students, and applying their experience as fellow academics to the problems at hand. Indeed, it remains, in our view, an excellent system where academics retain an active part in its execution at several stages; from the Senior Tutor filtering out the frivolous and presenting a coherent case on behalf of the appellant, suitably supported by objective and reasoned arguments, the case looked at in the light of the steadily evolving framework of legislation enshrined in the Grey Book (even if it is about to take something of a leap) afforced by years of precedents, and finally the Proctor him or herself; assiduous in ensuring that no radical precedents are set, knowing full well that, on demitting, they may come home to roost.

Proctors are generally extraordinarily naïve: they volunteer to do the job without really knowing what the balance of duties are: I have already mentioned ceremonial and examination matters. Then there are all manner of squabbles and disputes which come to our attention. The last may take rather longer to deal with than the others, and are certainly wearing; but all together this takes up no more than another 10 per cent. But how, more widely, do we really `Uphold the Statutes', in 2004? Well, we join the Great and Good, including those my predecessor referred to as `the men in suits, of Wellington Square', at the full panoply of university committees, from Council to (in principle at least) the Committee for Ornithology; we make a cautious input, for fear of appearing precocious and forgetting our roots, but no one can deny our altruism. Perhaps that can take another 20 per cent of our time, 35 per cent if one allows for reading the MPS Division's papers before its board meetings. One committee during the year stands out: an early task for us was to attend the panel for the selection of the next Vice-Chancellor, a rare privilege. The committee, chaired by Sir Victor Blank, deliberated carefully the attributes of the applicants and the head-hunted, for the rare qualities needed, and we look forward to welcoming Mr Hood later in the calendar year---our successors will have the previously unheard-of task of helping to introduce the new VC to the customs of the University. But not all University appointments make such stringent demands on applicants. An advertisement for the post of `Learning Associate', appearing in the Gazette, [3] demanded that the applicant have only `a good working knowledge of one or more of the following skills: time management, presentation skills, leading teams, writing successful research grant applications, writing research papers, servicing meetings, and using the telephone effectively'.

And the balance of our time? The other 30 per cent? Well, as I have said, from time to time over the year, much to Dr Gasser's well-disguised irritation, I go back to the `Engine Shed' to study applied mechanics, and I encourage my successors, if not to go train-spotting, then at least not to lose touch with the academic work to which they will soon return.

From both committee work and student complaints emerge some modest policy initiatives. Sometimes we have been asked whether we are reforming Proctors. I think we have been sufficiently sensitive to the complexity of the organisation we are grappling with for us not to be so presumptuous as to think that we could effect major change. Some of our predecessors might take us to task for little innovation, but we have worked on new guidelines on topics as varied as drugs, retention of records by examiners, and examination arrangements for candidates with special needs. We have also enjoyed participating in the revision of the Grey Book, by a committee chaired, with an enviable combination of amiability and intellectual rigour, by Derek Wood. We would contend that there could be few better causes for the Proctors to advance than the production of a comprehensible set of Examination Regulations.

The Proctors have worked closely with the Assessor throughout the year. The office of Assessor is rather less venerable than that of Proctor, being little more than forty years old, and is principally concerned with student welfare (broadly defined), and the alleviation of hardship. He has, this year, taken a particular interest in `equal opportunities' at a time when the University is dealing with the impact of a raft of new legislation, from the three-stage implementation of SENDA (Special Educational Needs and Disability Act), to legislation concerning equal treatment on grounds of race, religion, and sexuality. One role that has made a particularly strong impression on the Assessor has been his chairmanship of the Car Parks Working Group. The key issue has been how to provide fair and equitable treatment for those working within the university at a time of mounting pressure on a declining amount of space. The Assessor has also been involved with the plans to move two well-known Oxford institutions. First, the Clubs Committee, of which he is chairman, will move in the autumn from Bevington Road to its new premises in a modern office suite in Littlegate House (which, crucially, will enjoy disabled access). Secondly, the Assessor has regularly attended the management committee of the University Club, which will soon be reopening in its brand new building in Mansfield Road, having moved out of the now-demolished Halifax House. The University deserves credit for investing in a superb new facility that will be of great benefit to its employees, and will be particularly welcome to those in the Science Area. The Assessor wishes well to both institutions in their new homes.

Although we have sometimes felt that the student body does not properly understand the role of the Assessor and Proctors we have been impressed by the willingness of the officers of the Student Union to bring their concerns to our attention. We noted with some amusement the justification provided by the Hart Report for the age limitations on Proctors: to ensure that `it does not put disciplinary authority into the hands of old men' (it was necessarily men, then, of course) `or men remote from the student body'. While we would not concur with the ageist assumptions in that statement, it is true that the goals of the Hart Report have been realised. Student representatives do avail themselves of the Proctors' tribunician functions. Our year has, of course, been overshadowed by the ongoing debate over the Education Bill. We had the pleasure early in our term of assisting at the debate in Congregation, a powerful demonstration of the vitality of university democracy. Many students were dissatisfied with the outcome: our first Council was disrupted by a student demonstration orchestrated by the President of the Student Union, using his mobile phone to text messages to control, from the Van Houten Room, the heckling level outside. It was on arriving at that same Council that the Junior Proctor underwent his `walk of shame' through ranks of students symbolically silenced by masking tape, and consequently found himself plastered over the front page of the student press. But it has not compromised the open door policy we have adopted to members of the Student Union and representatives of the Junior and Middle common rooms of the colleges. We know that sometimes the student representatives are frustrated by the pace of change of the University---so, too, are we---but there are many areas in which they can make a material difference. Concerns raised by the Vice-President Academic Affairs have fed into discussions at the Senior Tutors' Committee; the Graduate Vice-President has raised important issues about graduate provision at EPSC; OUSU has engaged very constructively in discussions of reform of admissions, and we applaud their contribution to access work in co-operation with other college and university initiatives. Convinced of the need for some strengthening of the bicameral institutions of the Collegiate University, we have given some encouragement to the OUSU campaign to seek more representation at the level of the Conference of Colleges, but we would like to point out---albeit gently---that their campaigns are not assisted by students taking action of a nature which if committed by a senior member would lead to demands of withdrawal from participation in decision-making. Representation comes at the price of the adoption of the politics of responsibility. The disruption of university activity by sit-ins will only regress the argument.

Since the review of the statutes and changes in university policing, much Proctorial activity takes place within a framework of diminished majesty. Some of the changes of course are entirely welcome: it is no longer justifiable for the Proctors to act as judge and jury without proper appeal mechanisms. But the University needs to be aware of the implications of some of the changes. First, all disciplinary prosecutions, even those minor infractions surrounding post-examination celebrations, generate a considerable volume of paperwork, and a considerable burden on the office staff. Secondly, prosecutions are subject to the law's delays, as we wait upon the convening of courts and the preparation of materials. It is not clear to us that the effort is proportionate in all cases. Cases of plagiarism and examination cheating must be dealt with by the Court of Summary Jurisdiction; given the pastoral dimensions to many of these cases the added complications of cumbersome court procedures are not necessarily welcome to those caught in the toils of justice. Examiners likewise recoil in horror as one explains to them the implications of laying a plagiarism case before the Proctors. This is a potentially dangerous situation, because it may tempt examiners into applying their own penalties for suspected plagiarism, which if subsequently challenged would necessarily have to be overruled because of their not having been applied after due process. For many reasons, then, we feel that the University must review this element of the disciplinary procedures with a view to providing more expeditious justice.

An area where we have found particular difficulties, and been on the receiving end of criticism, concerns the `celebrations' outside the Examination Schools. This `tradition', of fewer than ten years' standing, is proving increasingly difficult to control: the Bulldogs are no longer Police, the Police have more urgent calls on their time, and our time is spent laboriously pursuing the few who are caught in a long-winded Proctors' court. Our ability to control these events is more scant than it should be, to our dismay and the chagrin of the Registrar. We would point out, though, that, against the trend, we have had considerably more success over the last week, albeit with much reduced numbers of candidates, and we await the arrival of the new Marshal to afforce the campaign.

Other occasions when the Registrar contacted me either by telephone or in person could spell only one of two things: either I had made yet another gaffe in the handling of a particularly trying complaint, or, more likely, the Registrar's golfing partner at Carnoustie, and chairman of the `Clubs and Balls Committee', [4] had himself been on the blower to ascertain the latest progress on a research project which the Royal and Ancient had sponsored in Engineering, concerning the important topic of the flight and deformation of golf-balls. I would be dispatched either to find the latest results from the gas propelled guns, or else to ensure that the paperwork was all being dealt with expeditiously.

I remarked earlier that the Proctors can all too easily acquire a bleak view of the University's prospects. However, our dealings with its senior officers, such as that which I have just described, provide a much cheerier perception. Another is that the Republic of Letters, which this University has traditionally represented, remains vital, its citizens virtuous---even, for the most part, in the Business School. The Republic provides every incentive for the scientist to remedy any deficiencies in his education, and to put him or herself on a cultural level with arts contemporaries. We have been impressed that the core underpinning values continue to be expounded in the inner counsels of the University, and it was gratifying to hear the Head of the Humanities Division express pleasure in academic engagement with pupils. Tutorials are, or should be, fulfilling experiences for both tutor and pupil alike, at any rate when they are, as you, Sir, put it, `educational' rather than merely `instructional' in form, and what happens in them cannot be conveniently measured on forms with a series of tick-boxes. It is most reassuring to those of us with only a transitory participation in higher matters to see that sight is not always lost of our real raison d`être. It is important that colleges continue to press the case for the particular virtues of an Oxford education, not, of course, merely an atavistic reflex defence of the `tutorial system' but an appreciation of the colleges as communities of scholars engaged in a variety of disciplines but sharing common values, unconnected to utility, and with a willingness to question the platitudes of the day. That these values need not be incompatible with hard-headed financial imperatives is proved by our experiences at the Press.

Our dealings with the Oxford University Press have been a source of pleasure for us throughout the year, and that should not go unnoticed. The Press occupies a unique position in so many ways: it is formally a department of the University, and so its surpluses escape corporation tax. It therefore provides an enviable source of revenue, for the University as a whole, of not less than £12m per annum. This last year, as Congregation will know, it exceptionally provided £60m, in order to finance the purchase of the Radcliffe Infirmary site, surely one of the last few development spaces of any size within central Oxford. Of course, the Press provides all this without compromising either its academic standards in relation to its major projects, of which the Oxford English Dictionary and the Dictionary of National Biography stand out as being peerless, but also in its academic monographs, whose readership may be small, but whose publication is so vital to several areas of research. These highest academic ideals are reflected in the fortnightly meetings of the Delegates, and our transitory membership of this body has itself been a real privilege. Upwards of one hundred books are often dealt with in the space of two hours, and the quality of the arguments used to support (or occasionally damn) publication, delivered at breakneck speed, is a singular experience. We will not forget the occasion when a book on otters was being considered, generally well received, and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor chairing the meeting concluded by noting that the book should appeal to a general readership, as otters are `warm and cuddly creatures', to which the Professor of Tropical Medicine added `except, of course, in the case of the Brazilian giant otter'. That the Press manages to keep a perfect balance between academic needs, its own research of the most exceptional quality (and which, in some ways mercifully for those doing it, evades the RAE, although that may itself be a loss to the University's rating), and yet is by far and away the world's most commercially successful university publishing house, is really quite extraordinary.

The Proctors' committee work covers every sector of the University's activities. It can be an extraordinarily enriching experience, and it reminds us that there are areas of the University's activities which deserve wider publicity and awareness both within the academy and outside it. We have been particularly struck by the contribution of the museums and collections, including the Botanic Garden, both to the overall research environment and to the University's wider public profile. The museums' annual reports are commended to all members of Congregation, for they reveal vital institutions engaged in research activity of the highest quality. We are impressed by the philanthropic and funding conjuring tricks by which money is secured for new projects and for new acquisitions. We congratulate the Pitt Rivers on the progress towards the redevelopment of the green shed site; we look forward to improved visitor facilities to be shared with the University Museum in space recently vacated by Chemistry; and we wish the Ashmolean success in its carefully crafted Plan which will be reconsidered by the Heritage Lottery Fund this summer. We are also struck by the enormous achievements of the museums, and the Garden, in attracting new visitors through very successful educational programmes, and we wonder whether there are lessons to be learned for our collective access efforts.

It is good that the human touch has not disappeared from university life, and that there have also been good things to report and have witnessed: from the pursuit at all levels of scholarship of the highest order (however measured and of whatever utility) to practical acquisitions of real estate; to have had the privilege of installing a new Chancellor who displays immense energy and sense of purpose for his institution, to see the selfless work of so many members of the University's staff; dedication exemplified by the staff with whom we have been working over the last twelve months, led by Dr Gasser, to whom we express our warmest and most sincere gratitude. Back to the Engine Shed.

Footnotes

[1] I am grateful to Peter Gilliver, Associate Editor, OED, for seeking out this item.
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[2] Cambridge, 52 (2003), pp 23–33, `Proggin's turn---some Cambridge proctors, retired, current and future, reflect'.
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[3] Oxford University Gazette, 31 July 2003, p. 1593.
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[4] The `clubs and balls' referred to are not, of course, those one customarily associates with college revelry.
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PROCTORIAL YEAR 2003--4

Summary of disciplinary cases

(totals for previous year given in brackets)

Breach of Statute XI Code of Discipline

Disruption/occupation of University property 28, including 2 cases referred to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. Fines of £20 (1), £25 (3), £30 (3), £40 (3), £50 (7), and £70 (6) were imposed. Three cases are still in progress, and one offender appealed to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction against the fine imposed (in progress).

Obstruction 0 (6).

Misappropriation of property 0 (2). 1 case referred to Disciplinary Court at the end of the previous Proctorial year was dealt with in 2003--4 and resulted in a student being rusticated for 3 terms.

Misuse of property (IT facilities) 3 (1). Fines of £60, £50, and £30 were imposed and each offender received a written warning.

Misuse of property (Library) 0 (1).

Falsification of documents, misrepresentation and dishonest behaviour: 1 (0). The case was referred to the Disciplinary Court and resulted in a student being expelled from membership of the University.

Dishonest behaviour 1 (0), together with related charges. The case was referred to the Disciplinary Court and resulted in a student being expelled from membership of the University. An appeal was made to the Appeal Court and was rejected.

Misuse of drugs 1 (0). The case was referred to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction and resulted in a student being rusticated for three terms (readmission conditional on participation in drugs screening and counselling programmes).

Offensive behaviour/language, together with charges of obstruction and misuse of IT facilities 1 (0). The case was referred to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction, which imposed a fine of £500 and subsequently rusticated the offender sine die for non-payment.


Breach of Rules Committee Regulations

Behaviour after examinations 11 (59). Eleven fines of £30 were imposed, with written warnings in nine of the cases; one offender was admonished.


Breach of Proctors' Disciplinary Regulations for Examinations

Smoking in an examination venue 0(1).

Unauthorised removal of materials from an examination room 1 (0). A fine of £40 was imposed.

Unauthorised materials in an examination room 2 (2). One of these cases was referred to the Disciplinary Court: the offender was failed in an FHS examination and permitted to resit for the Pass School only. The Proctors dealt with the other case, imposing a fine of £50 and issuing a written warning.

Plagiarism 3 (2). All 3 cases were referred to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction: in each, the examiners were instructed to disregard the plagiarised work and the candidates were permitted to re-submit (with a marks penalty in one case). In addition, the Court of Summary Jurisdiction completed a case referred by the previous Proctors: the examiners were instructed to disregard the plagiarised work and the candidate was permitted to resubmit.

Collusion/misrepresentation of authorship 7 (0). All 7 cases, which related to the same examination exercise, were referred to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction: the Court dismissed all the cases. Total new cases: 59 (74)


Other matters

The Proctors successfully applied to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction for a suspension order in respect of a student charged with a serious criminal offence (case in progress).

The Proctors referred to the Registrar three cases where allegations of misconduct were made against members of Congregation, and one case of alleged misrepresentation by a former student member.

The Proctors dealt with 4 cases where action was required from the University to complement penalties of suspension/rustication imposed by colleges.

The Proctors also dealt with numerous cases of students reported by libraries for non-payment of fines and/or non-return of books. In these cases the Proctors contacted the students concerned and their colleges, and arranged for the defaulters to be shown as debtors to the University (therefore not permitted to take their degrees) pending resolution of their cases.


Summary of complaints received

The 134 cases handled during Proctorial Year 2003--4 (in a few instances carried forward from the previous year) may be categorised as follows. The numbers in brackets refer to 2002/03.

Examinations: 114 (103), including undergraduates 80 (78) and postgraduates 34 (25).

These included 38 (48) requests for verification of results that did not develop into substantive complaints.

Equal opportunities: 0 (1)

But note that some examination complaints also involved Equal Opportunities issues

Harassment: 9 (4)

Maladministration: 5 (2)

Quality of/access to teaching, research or support facilities: 0 (3)

Suspension/rustication from the University: 0 (1)

Student Union (OUSU): 0 (2)

Other: 6 (10)

Total: 134 (126)

Among the cases completed, the Proctors upheld in whole or in part a total of 19 complaints and arranged for redress to be provided where appropriate.