Statute on academic salaries - report of proceedings in Congregation - (1) to No 4579



<br /> Oxford University Gazette: report of debate on academic salaries (supplement)

Oxford University Gazette

Statute on academic salaries: report of proceedings
in Congregation

Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4579

Wednesday, 14 March 2001

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Contents of the supplement:



The report of the debate in Congregation on 20 February on the preamble to
the proposed
statute concerning the salaries of academic
staff
(see
Gazette, pp. 672, 696) is set out below. Because of a failure,
which is regretted, in the tape-recording arrangements shortly after Dr Walker
began his second, summing-up, speech, only the report to that point is
published verbatim; there follows a summary of the rest of Dr Walker's
speech and of the final speech in the debate, made by the Principal of
Somerville.

The preamble read: 'WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for the payment of
additional emoluments to the holders of academic posts, THE UNIVERSITY
ENACTS AS FOLLOWS.
'

Verbatim report

DAME FIONA CALDICOTT (Principal of Somerville College; Chairman of
the Personnel Committee): Mr Vice-Chancellor, in a building that enshrines
so much of the history of the University, Congregation is having its first
debate of the millennium. It seems fitting to me that, in it, I am asking
Congregation to support a step that will better equip the University to face the
challenges of the twenty-first century. The new Personnel Committee has
commended to Council, which has accepted, that consideration of the salaries
of staff should be a principal feature of the annual budgeting process. It is the
belief of many that this relates crucially to the University's mission to educate
and to research at the highest academic level. It must therefore recruit and
retain the most able academic and other staff that it possibly can.

When the Personnel Committee started work in October 2000, under the
new governance arrangements, its members were keenly aware of a number
of related, unresolved issues concerning academic staff and their reward and
remuneration on which much valuable work has been done. In spite of the
context of financial constraint and national uncertainty post-Bett, we thought
that we should make as much progress towards equitable policies as possible,
within broad central frameworks. These would have to address the issues
facing both the divisions and colleges.

It would be wonderful if we could give more money to more people in
more parts of the University, but we do not have it. When more money
becomes available, following the HEFCE allocation announced two months
ago, there will be further discussion. We do not know definitively how much
money there will be for Oxford, or for academic as opposed to support staff,
or what conditions will be attached to it.

This debate is about the circumstances in which we are now.

It should be noted that there were diverse responses to the consultative
process last summer on a merit award scheme. These were analysed and have
informed these proposals—we did listen.

A large majority of faculty boards supported the principle of extending the
system of merit payments. A smaller majority of those colleges that responded
did, and individual responses were equally divided. There was more
disagreement about the details and the financial provision. Council could not
commit successor bodies, and ultimately there was no money.

Burdens of academic staff must be addressed. This is probably the
important issue to many. So we should build on the excellent work and
consultation of the Joint Working Group on Joint Appointments. Divisions,
through departments and faculties, are considering teaching and other
responsibilities appropriate in each subject, as syllabuses are reviewed, and
based on the centrality of tutorials. There is a mechanism now in place for
discussion with colleges, to streamline and reduce burdens within a broad
framework. May I make a personal plea at this point—that we are
sensitive to how describing academic work, including teaching and examining,
as a burden, may sound to the outsider. We should restrict this description to
administrative burdens, which should certainly be reduced. It is clear that
detailed arrangements, suitable for each subject, cannot be decided upon or
imposed centrally. The Personnel Committee will monitor changes at the
centre through its Joint Appointments Panel, with equal representation of
colleges and of the University.

Turning to academic salaries, the capacity to retain and recruit outstanding
academics must be addressed, with the requirement to preserve collegiality
and collaboration. So how do we proceed? There are particular localised and
infrequent but acute problems of recruitment and retention. Urgent action is
necessary to safeguard Oxford's academic position.

(1) Flexibility within age-related scale. An individual's
salary can be raised to any point within the university age-related scale in
pressing cases. This involves robust criteria and procedures. It will enable
recruitment of staff that otherwise would not have come to this University,
particularly young lecturers with young families.

(2) We should reinstate the periodic gathered-field
exercise
giving new or enhanced distinction awards to statutory and
ad hominem professors in the face of increased competition
both nationally and internationally. Attracting such leaders in their field
enables the retention and recruitment of other outstanding staff in turn.

(3) This should be extended to readers.

(4) Separate funding for awards to incoming professors
should be maintained, and it is important to safeguard the funding stream for
this.

(5) The recognition of distinction attracted virtually
unanimous support for its reinstatement. This was surprising, given the view
of the former central bodies.

(6) ULNTFs. An ad hoc working
group of the Planning and Resource Allocation Committee and colleges, with
representatives of the Personnel Committee, has made good progress. A
scheme is being developed to address differences in responsibilities through
appropriate remuneration.

(7) A mechanism should be available to enable the making of
additional payments to lecturers, based on an exceptional academic
case
. This would only be for those individuals where the case
demonstrating the overwhelming importance of recruiting, retaining, and
rewarding key and distinguished staff can be made.

Consultation on the merit award scheme proposed in 2000 showed that a
majority believed it wrong that this can never happen for lecturers who
currently have no access to discretionary salary arrangements. It should be
noted that this is available for academic-related staff, through super-scale
points and the possibility of upgrading. It would introduce a potential for
flexibility, which other universities have with regard to professorial
appointments to which they try to recruit from Oxford, without new
bureaucracy and time-consuming processes involving gathered fields.

The decision would involve the division, with the college, considering the
academic consequences of a potential resignation or failure to recruit an
exceptional individual. In the latter example, consideration would be in the
context of the college's and University's jointly agreed selection criteria for
the post.

There must be safeguards: the lack of money, the robust case of an
overwhelming need to attract or retain in exceptional instances, in consultation
with the Head of House, with no expectation or question of a college paying
'extra', and the Personnel Committee continuing to discuss the detailed
arrangements.

As I doubt that there is anyone here who does not support this University
continuing in the 'First Division', I trust that you will support promulgation
of this statute.

Return to list of speakers


DR R.C.S. WALKER (Magdalen College; Head of the Humanities Division):
Mr Vice-Chancellor, technically we are here this afternoon to debate the
promulgation of a change of statute: a change that would make very little real
difference to the present statutory situation. I suspect that (as often) what
matters to Congregation is not so much the statute itself, as the explanatory
note, and that is entirely proper. The explanatory note puts forward proposals
designed to increase the flexibility that can be exercised in the remuneration
of academic staff. This flexibility is very carefully limited, as the Principal
has explained. In seconding the motion, I must first make it clear why such
flexibility is so badly needed, and secondly why it is limited.

At present, merit awards are available, in carefully controlled
circumstances, to statutory and ad hominem professors. The
circumstances are carefully controlled for reasons of equity, but the scheme
works well, and has helped to retain within the University some who might
otherwise have left; it has served as an encouragement to others who might
never consider leaving, but who have seen their work rewarded. Council
proposes to extend this scheme to statutory and ad hominem
readers, for just the same reasons.

At present, there is a degree of flexibility over the placing of young
lecturers on the age–wage scale. In some cases a lecturer's salary is
moved up the scale two, three, or even occasionally five points above the
level that would be determined by the lecturer's age alone. This has proved
invaluable in allowing us to attract and retain outstanding young staff whom
otherwise we might lose from Oxford. The power to move someone by two
points has existed since 1988; it was extended to five points in 1998; this has
not weakened our academic community, nor our sense of academic
community, and we have many excellent people amongst us who would
otherwise not be here. Council proposes to extend this scheme so that the
flexibility becomes complete within the age–wage scale.

That leaves those lecturers who have reached the top of the
age–wage scale, and whose salaries are at the joint maximum. The
flexibilities I have mentioned so far are of no use to them, yet as the Principal
has said, they form an important group of people upon whom much depends.
As things stand, there is no way of paying any extra salary to these people,
however great their merit and however great the University's need to retain
them. What Council proposes here is that it should be possible to make extra
payments to those at the top of the age–wage scale, in really exceptional
cases.

Given our financial situation, these extra payments cannot be as great as
they ought to be, nor can they be given to as many people as ought to receive
them. They can nevertheless be given to a significant few, and one may
reasonably hope to a steadily increasing number. The fact that we cannot
make them as generously as we should like to is not a reason for not making
them at all, when they are so badly needed to retain and reward some of our
best people. And here it is of crucial importance not to underestimate the
difference it would make if we could just remove, as is proposed, the glass
ceiling that so many people, presently on the joint maximum, feel prevents
them from ever making any financial advance within the University. The
proposal does not promise a large advance, but it makes advance possible, and
that by itself should make a substantial difference to the way that many people
see things.

The flexibility Council proposes is limited, partly because of limited
resources, partly for reasons of equity. What resources we have we must use
fairly, and the system proposed is designed to ensure that fairness. Any extra
payments will have to be funded by the divisions, and the divisions have many
calls on such money as they have. What we do must therefore be carefully
controlled, with considerations of equity firmly in mind. But, again as the
Principal has said, on the proposals before the House, on the proposals in the
explanatory note, it certainly would be firmly controlled. Proposals for such
payments would be made by heads of division, but the decision would be
made by the Vice-Chancellor on appropriately balanced advice in consultation
with colleges where appropriate. The Vice-Chancellor's judgements would be
reported to the Personnel Committee. The Vice-Chancellor and the Personnel
Committee would have the responsibility of ensuring that these payments were
fairly and equitably made. But this is a responsibility they are very well
equipped to discharge. Indeed the Personnel Committee is deliberately
designed to include a broad variety of interests and opinions for just this kind
of reason.

In my own view, there is another reason for caution about introducing too
much flexibility. It is for many—and I include myself among
them—an attraction of Oxford that our pay scales are not market-driven,
but reflect a sense of academic community that many institutions fail to
achieve. Others may see things differently, but I at least would not like to see
the University allow the forces of the market to dictate its salary structure.
The proposals before us today do not take us into that position. We cannot,
however, entirely ignore the forces of the market, and today's proposals allow
us the flexibility that we absolutely require if we are to retain all that is
valuable about our present system, including just that sense of academic
community. For we have to recognise that we live in a competitive world, a
world in which we have to be able to respond to market pressures without
allowing them to dominate us. We need, in other words, a careful compromise
between community and competitiveness; and that is what Council is
proposing.

Some will complain that we should not adopt these proposals, because they
will destroy that sense of community. They are wrong: they will provide the
necessary flexibility for the sense of community to flourish, and for Oxford
to remain a first-rate international university. Some will complain, as they did
to the last set of proposals, that there is not enough money available to make
the proposals worth adopting. They too are wrong: even with a little money
quite a lot can be done, and the psychological advantage of removing that
glass ceiling is crucially important. Some will complain that there simply
ought to be more money. They are right. But that is not a matter under the
University's control. The University is suffering from chronic underfunding,
and we must all hope that this situation does not continue. We must do what
we can, and we are doing what we can, to ensure that the situation does not
continue. We must, of course, give that high priority to improving academic
salaries that Council is proposing. But while the underfunding does continue,
if we are to continue to flourish in this dry and stony ground, we need the
flexibility that Council proposes.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I beg to second the motion.

Return to list of speakers


MR G.P. WILLIAMS (St Peter's College): Mr Vice-Chancellor, the statute
before us raises important questions and arises from the dilemmas that now
face Council. The explanatory note, the preamble, and the proposed statute go
to the heart of the collegiate University in two senses. First, the relations
between the University and its constituent colleges. Second, and more
important, the ways in which, as colleagues, we relate to one another. I shall
argue that the proposals brought before us are unclear, undesirable, and
unstable. They are also, for reasons I shall explain, untimely.

I do not oppose these proposals lightly. It is precisely because I recognise
the seriousness of the issues, and appreciate the difficulties that confront the
University and Council, that I wish Council to reconsider the proposals which
the Personnel Committee has brought forward.

There has been some discussion within the University and its colleges of
the 'broad framework' set out by the Personnel Committee and its proposals
to take forward the work of the Joint Working Party on Joint Appointments.
We can all agree on the need to reduce the excessive
demands—'burdens' was their word, not mine—of teaching on some
academic staff. We are a long way from accepting either the desirability, or
the feasibility, of the working party's or the committee's suggestions as to
how this can be done. The explanatory note refers to these matters without
spelling out the Personnel Committee's own proposals or telling us whether
it no longer wishes to pursue all of its recommendations.

The suggestions that the Personnel Committee put forward to colleges
explicitly involved a fundamental redefinition of the contracts of college
fellows and university lecturers. They required a shift in responsibility for
arranging and providing a substantial part of the undergraduate degree course
from colleges to departments or faculties. Money would follow students, with
direct implications for the delicate balance of financial allocations between
colleges and the University. It is unclear to me what we are being asked to
vote for.

The explanatory note rightly recognises the most blatant of the several
inequities in the determination of salaries and allowances paid to the academic
and academic-related staff of the University and its colleges. This is the
determination of the salaries of ULNTFs, whose colleges are unable to make
their combined salaries up to the level of the so-called 'joint maximum'. If the
University is able to define a 'common contract', with a common measure of
teaching commitment, it must arrange for anybody whose commitments are
at or near that level to be paid routinely the same in salary as their colleagues
holding tutorial or equivalent college fellowships.

The explanatory note puts forward cumbersome proposals for monitoring
whether sufficient work is done to merit enhanced payments and for claiming
from colleges at least a part of the required funds. Simpler principles and
financial exchanges may prove more acceptable and effective. Council should
bring clearer proposals to Congregation and not envelop them within a more
far-reaching statute.

Council identifies the central dilemma we must discuss today: 'the
desirability on the one hand of greater differentiation to enable the University
to recruit, retain, and reward key staff, and on the other hand the danger this
might present to collegiality and collaboration'.

Last year, the predecessors to the present Council explicitly rejected any
'intrusive' scheme for performance-related pay and proposed instead that
lecturers and readers, like professors, might apply individually for salary
enhancement. As the explanatory note tells us, the resources available for the
scheme were 'widely perceived as inadequate to reward all deserving cases
appropriately'. Therefore, it argues, in the name of 'flexibility', that fewer
people should be rewarded from limited funds.

The Vice-Chancellor is to be given the power, which he already has in the
case of professors, to enhance the salary payments of readers and lecturers in
'exceptional cases relating to the overwhelming academic importance of
retaining, rewarding, and (perhaps to a lesser extent) recruiting key
distinguished academic staff'. Proposals are to be made by the appointed heads
of divisions and to be funded from divisional resources.

There are several objections to these proposals. In effect, they encourage
members of the University to seek higher-paid posts elsewhere as the only
means of establishing their case for additional pay. Anybody offered a post at
the University will be advised to bargain for a salary enhancement at that
time. The implications of such an incentive structure for either retention or
recruitment are ambiguous and its outcomes quite uncertain. They will
discriminate against those who, once appointed, wish to pursue their academic
careers in Oxford.

Additional payments will be made according to the criteria of the national
and international academic market place. Within the UK, this is driven by the
prospective value each academic brings to the research assessment exercise.
We shall be encouraged to do those things that can and will be measured and
that command a price, and discouraged from spending any more time than we
can avoid on things that are not or cannot be measured. Much of the work of
the University and its colleges depends on these.

In order to ensure that each does their share, we shall extend the elaborate
points systems which are already in use for measuring our units of teaching,
for counting our examining, and for adding up our contributions to the
administrative work of the University and the colleges. These can work when
they identify, in broad terms, what we each expect of one another and what
we can reasonably be asked to do. But once they are used to evaluate our jobs
or as an instrument for management, the rules of measurement and their
application will be open to endless argument and dispute. Goodwill will be
lost and it will prove more difficult to get anybody to do anything in the
public interest.

Under the proposals before us, decisions will be opaque and discretionary
and accessible through a single gatekeeper. Lobbying skills, by applicants and
their heads of division, will be at a premium. This is a recipe for academic
patronage. The costs of salary enhancements will fall on divisions. They will
thus reduce the funds for filling appointments and limit the resources available
for other applicants. There is no provision for the division to discuss or decide
on this commitment of its limited resources.

Heads of divisions will, in all cases, have 'to provide firm evidence that
the award would not lead to unacceptable salary anomalies within the
division'. This may not be possible. The proposal is that some people be paid
more money than their colleagues for carrying out the same broadly defined
responsibilities. Unless it is clear that they do more work than others, or do
their jobs better, such additional payments will be anomalous. By
definition.

We have no yardsticks for defining 'more' or 'better' and no procedures
for comparing relative claims. Anomalies must result.

Anomalies will be resented. Rumours of secret payments to the deserving,
let alone the undeserving, will accentuate resentment. Each of us may wish the
University to consider our special case. Once allowance is made for
differences among individuals, provisions will have to be extended to make
it possible to reward other individuals. The proposals will be unstable.

There are two possible outcomes to this process. One is to individualise
pay negotiations so that we each bargain with our heads of departments and
divisions for better salaries. The other is to institutionalise a system of
rewarding staff according to measured criteria of performance. Individual
RAE assessments, achieved or anticipated, may become the currency of
assessment for pay negotiation.

There are some disciplines in which recruitment is more difficult than in
others. It may be that we have to pay economists more than we need to pay
medieval historians, or politics tutors, to teach Oxford undergraduates.
Preferring one individual economist over another will not avoid the instability
to which I have already alluded. It would simply be better and clearer to pay
all economists more than we pay politics tutors. That solution, too, is unstable
as each discipline, or sub-discipline, makes its own special case, citing the
particular posts for which a candidate of international standing could not be
recruited.

Council asks us today to approve the preamble to a far-reaching statute.
The statute provides for Council to make 'awards in recognition of academic
distinction or contribution to academic work of the University in accordance
with arrangements to be determined from time to time by Council'. It makes
no qualification or requirement that it first put these arrangements before
Congregation.

Council has done so without drawing the attention of members of
Congregation to the wider context in which it will have to consider such
arrangements. In December 2000 HEFCE demanded that universities adopt a
'human resources strategy' to meet its requirements. The reward to Oxford for
satisfying HEFCE is £2,145,000 in the year 2001--2 and likely, on my
calculations, to amount to £9.9 million over the three years, 2001-4.
HEFCE asked the University to reply to three leading questions by 12
February, which I understand it did. These developments are alluded to in the
preamble, where mention is made of additional funds, some of which relate
to salaries, but there is no explicit reference to the HEFCE document or its
implications for Council's deliberations.

We do not know whether the proposals for salary flexibility are designed
to meet the first stage of HEFCE's demands, specifically that we show how
we are going to 'address recruitment and retention difficulties in a targeted
and cost-effective manner' (HEFCE). If so, it will not satisfy HEFCE. By the
following year, 2002--3, if we want the money, we shall have to introduce
'annual performance reviews of all staff, based on open and objective criteria,
with rewards connected to the performance of individuals including, where
appropriate, their contributions to teams' (HEFCE).

The University is, indeed, subject to external pressures from an unholy
alliance of market and state. We may have to bow, as we have done in the
past, to superior financial power. Congregation should not vote today to leave
the matter in Council's hands without the chance to discuss, in detail and in
principle, how we should respond to these demands. I therefore ask
Congregation to vote against the preamble.

Return to list of speakers


MR T.F. HOAD (St Peter's College): Mr Vice-Chancellor, the case made for
the new statute, in the explanatory note, is a seductively appealing one,
emphasising the modest and innocuous nature of the proposed changes. The
University, we are assured, is absolutely convinced of the need to pay its staff
decent salaries, and we are promised that it will make this 'a primary
and fundamental
item' in its future cutting of the cake. It is also quite
keen that staff should have less work to do.

There are, unfortunately, one or two little problems. The Government will
not give the University enough money to achieve these laudable aims, and it
is going to 'take some time to work through' what is involved in the
University's decision to reapportion its resources with some greater weighting
towards salaries.

For the time being, then, the University wants to do what little it can to
'ease pressure over the recruitment, retention, and recognition and reward of
staff' by, in various ways, allowing itself just a bit more 'flexibility' in what
it pays individual staff members.

Additional payments will be made, of course, only in 'exceptional cases'.
We learn, after all, that when the previous proposals for a scheme of 'merit
awards' were discussed around the University, there was forthcoming a 'very
widespread acceptance'—no, an 'almost universal opinion'—that 'it
was not appropriate for the University to be unable in any case, however
exceptional the circumstances, to offer individual lecturers a salary beyond the
top point of the current scales', 'wrong that in no case should additional
payments ever be available ... however strong the academic imperative'.
These very exceptional payments, made in response to the strongest academic
imperatives, are therefore the most (or is it the least?) the Personnel
Committee feels it can do in order to 'raise morale among staff'.

Hang on, though. How is it all going to work? Who is going to be getting
the 'additional emoluments' referred to in the new statute? What will they be
getting them for? How much will they be? How are the decisions about the
awards going to be made, and who is going to make them?

One thing that is presumably fairly certain is that the total amount available
is not going to stretch very far. We have heard as much already today. The
University dropped its scheme of a year ago in large part because it could not
afford the £750K it was proposing to allocate to it, and
that was a sum that was widely seen as being wholly
inadequate for the purpose (and could not be confidently expected to remain
available on a recurrent basis). Now, under the new proposal, the funds will
have to be squeezed out of existing divisional budgets. Is this somehow a
better basis on which to make a serious response to the problems identified by
the Personnel Committee?

How are the awards to be decided? The explanatory note observes that the
previous merit awards scheme was widely seen as involving extravagantly
elaborate procedures, for the sake of a meagre potential outcome. The new
plan very efficiently sweeps away these 'time-consuming procedures' by
leaving it to divisional heads to put forward a case for each award. We
wonder, perhaps, how much variation there will be between divisions in the
degree of enthusiasm with which they embrace this new opportunity, or indeed
what interesting discussions will ensue within divisions as to which subject
areas will benefit from it.

On what basis will divisional heads make allocations for awards from their
increasingly slender financial resources? The last sentence of the explanatory
note says that the proposed new statute 'extends the availability of merit
awards to lecturers and the equivalent of professorial distinction awards to
readers', which sounds to me rather as though the primary aim is what is
sometimes called the 'rewarding of merit'. In the paragraphs immediately
preceding that sentence, however, it is explained that the statute is to create
'a mechanism ... to enable the making of additional payments to lecturers in
exceptional cases relating to the overwhelming academic importance of
recruiting, retaining, and rewarding key and distinguished staff'. How is a
divisional head, I wonder, to produce a case to demonstrate the
'overwhelming academic importance' of rewarding one of the division's
lecturers except when an issue of recruitment or retention has arisen? Even if
he were minded to do so, what chance is there of such a meritorious case
surviving? Suppose, for example, the divisional head is simultaneously faced
with a lecturer on the point of leaving for a job elsewhere, or a prospective
new appointee deemed to be an essential acquisition but showing reluctance
to come to Oxford, either of which difficulty may be removed by the offer of
more pay? Given the limitations on funding, can we really believe that these
awards will in practice be used in circumstances other than attempts to bribe
people to come or not to go? Once again, as with the previous merit awards
proposals, the University has hopelessly muddled the two real but quite
distinct issues of recruitment and retention, on the one hand, and the reward
of merit on the other. It—the University—and we should at least be
clear that the reward of merit in existing members of the University's staff is
not going to be addressed by the proposed system of awards unless the
lecturer concerned has a better salary offer to bargain with.

I alluded a few moments ago to one kind of divisiveness likely to result
from these confused proposals, namely that arising when the divisional head
decides that one department's claims are trumped by another's—and he
or she will certainly have to make such decisions on a regular basis. We will
see, in such cases, the rapid triumph of the labourers in certain
fields—the ones whose services are thought to command the best prices
in what we former professionals have learned to call the job
market—over their less glamorous counterparts in adjacent pastures. And
we will have moved another significant step further towards an acceptance that
we will no longer adhere to the principle that all the disciplines that the
University chooses to foster are of equal academic worth, and those teaching
and researching in them worthy of equal rewards. As the Committee on
Academic Salaries very rightly said in 1996, rejecting the idea that
professorial distinction awards should be designed so as to assist recruitment
and retention: 'To follow the "market" principle would inevitably
lead to differential salaries being paid as a function of the
field of the post (since the University's current arrangements
for stipends are variably uncompetitive by subject). The committee does not
think that this would be appropriate. It is in any case much less easy for this
University than for others to apply the market principle since Oxford is
unusual in employing, and seeking to recruit, a "galaxy of stars".
Moreover the University is more used to distinguishing between individuals
on grounds of distinction rather than on the basis of market forces.'
[Supplement (1) to Gazette No. 4388, 29 January 1996, p.
673.]

We will see, too, the exacerbation of the already strikingly large and
inequitable variations in the pay of joint appointees according to the chance
(as it mainly is) of which college a person belongs to. It seems a long while
since Sir Peter North's Commission of Inquiry recommended the abolition of
housing allowances and other college additions to salary in favour of an
increase in the joint maximum. This was expressly in order to apply the
principle of 'equal reward for work of equal value' to joint appointments. In
fact it was only in 1997, although the recommendation has long since been
allowed to sink from sight. The differences between colleges in research
allowances and other aids to academic work are going to have quite an effect
on a lecturer's success in establishing the 'merit' which makes him or her
seem essential to a division's work (or at least, its research profile), or which
helps him or her to get a pay-enhancing job offer elsewhere.

Council has seen fit to propose this change in the University's statutes
without specific consultation with the University at large, no doubt arguing
that the discussion of last year's merit awards proposals covered all the
necessary ground. But what we have here is a substantially different scheme,
which will raise not only issues considered last year but also some new ones.
We should have had a chance to give thought to the scheme envisaged before
it became a firm proposal for change.

And it is not minor change. Council is asking for unlimited authority to
determine the pay of individual members of staff. The terms in which the new
powers are expressed are not so very different, it is true, from those already
conferred by statute. But it is significant that whereas the existing wording
stipulates that the now defunct General Board, in its determination of the
salaries of non-medical lecturers, 'shall have regard to, but shall not be bound
by, scales related to age', these words are absent from the new statute. In the
present climate, with constant external pressures for the abandonment of
long-established principles in salary determination, the omission of even such
a cautious and non-committal form of words is a move to be resisted. We are
watching a further creep towards a much more significantly individualised
salary system, with all the unfairnesses and conflicts that will entail.
Professors were some while ago allowed distinction awards, so now we should
offer them to all. The competitiveness of the job market means we now decide
to pay a bit more to a select few marketable people, so in a year or two's time
we may as well let ourselves be pushed into a more general acceptance of
differential pay. There does seem to be a pattern there somewhere.

Many of us will, I hope, reject the principles implicit in the change of
statute we are considering today. All of us should recognise that the proposal
as it stands is muddled and unpersuasive, and that the issues at stake are very
important ones on which we need to have a period of serious and open debate.
I therefore second my colleague's request to you to vote 'no' today.

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MR D.A. HAY (Jesus College; Head of the Social Sciences Division): Mr
Vice-Chancellor, the Principal of Somerville and Dr Walker have spoken
persuasively in favour of the promulgation of this statute. I will not take up
your time in restating the arguments that they have put so cogently. Instead
I would like to report on two actual instances that have occurred in my
division recently. In both cases, if this statute had been in place, we might
have been able to avert the loss to the University of outstanding academics.
Evidently it would be inappropriate for me to give any details that would
suffice to identify the individuals involved, but I can easily outline the general
issue.

In both cases the academics in question were university lecturers in
specialisms that are in short supply when it comes to recruiting world-class
researchers. Both were at the top of the joint maximum scale, having been
awarded the additional increments that were permitted at the time. Both
received offers from institutions that are in direct competition with the social
sciences of this University. One of the individuals contacted me directly to ask
what the University might be able to do to match the outside offer. In the
other case I was contacted in some desperation by the head of department. In
both cases the answer was, 'Nothing can be done.' Both members of staff
subsequently left, with serious consequences for teaching and research in their
particular areas. If Oxford is to remain world-class in research in the social
sciences, we cannot afford to lose such talented scholars. With the proposed
statute and procedure we would at least be able to open a conversation with
such people in a bid to keep them here.

One objection to the statute is an understandable concern that merit awards
to university lecturers might create jealousies and loss of morale among those
who have not been so rewarded. In the cases to which I have alluded, I have
little doubt that their outstanding contribution would have been acknowledged
widely within their departments, and the case for merit awards would not have
been disputed. Their colleagues might of course have been jealous of their
abilities, but there is not much that we can do about that I would also note that
there was a very considerable loss of morale in those departments when
outstanding colleagues left to work elsewhere, and that is an impact which I
think we need to take very seriously into consideration.

A second implied objection is that the statute is introducing, by a
back-door method, differentials based on market conditions. I rather agree
with Mr Williams that that is an issue which we are going to have to address
sooner rather than later, given the level of competition in the labour market
for highly qualified people in disciplines such as law, economics, and finance.
But a general uplift of salaries for those in particular disciplines is not, and
is specifically not, envisaged in this legislation. The mechanism described in
the preamble makes it clear, and this has been emphasised, that only
exceptional cases, relating to an overwhelming academic case, will be
considered. Very importantly, the mechanism also makes it clear that
divisions, and in my division the departments, will pick up the cost of merit
awards. In the present, and likely to be continuing, financial stringency, that
is not something which will be taken on lightly or generally. I judge that the
number of awards will be few, even in a division like the Social Sciences,
where the problem of poaching by other institutions is acute.

These quite modest reforms to academic salaries have been welcomed and
endorsed by the Social Sciences Divisional Board. We need this scheme if we
are to have any hope of retaining some of our most distinguished colleagues
among the ranks of university lecturers.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I beg to support the promulgation.

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DR P.J. COLLINS (St Edmund Hall): Mr Vice-Chancellor, the opposers have
argued powerfully that the preamble should be voted down without more ado.
That is one way to make Council and its Personnel Committee think again.
Another would be for us to be promised today that appropriate consultations
will be held and agreements sought which will bind Council (by amending
their 'principles' (a)–(g) spelled out in
the Gazette) before the enactment of the statute. Because of
the complexities of the issues, this would and should take time. It is no
accident that the various working parties have laboured hard and long on these
matters.

It is a commonplace that language is affected by environment. Anyone who
served on the General Board became accustomed to hearing the phrase, 'The
devil is in the detail.' There are here a multitude of details yet to be explored
and devils to be exorcised. I will argue that without appropriate checks and
balances enshrined in the principles drawn up by Council, the proposals could
easily bring undesirable, far-reaching, and destabilising changes with
unsought-after fallout on departments, colleges, and individual members of the
University. I accept that the proposals are intended as a package. However,
they address such a wide range of issues that they deserve to lie on the
woolsack for a few more weeks, to allow for the good-housekeeping seal of
approval to be sought.

The issues here also provide a good test of the new governance. Whilst
accepting the need for stronger central leadership on policy matters and the
desirability of devolution to divisions and departments for matters of detail,
there will always remain a need for appropriate consultation and balance
between the centre and its divisions. I will identify points where central
control and consultation, in particular with the Conference of Colleges, could
produce better law.

We all appreciate that the proposals are in large measure driven by market
forces and financial constraints; but surely they should be dosed with a
modicum of fairness? In considering how the proposals affect the collegiate
University, I want to look, mostly, at the issues of recruitment, retention,
burdens—and fairness.

In a number of disciplines, the field of applicants for CUF lecturerships
has been dwindling. This is probably due both to conditions/burdens and, for
younger staff at least, to low salary levels. We still make few appointments
which are not rather strong, but all who arrive in Oxford are faced with the
same expensive housing market. Under the proposed arrangements, what
proportion of the lowest paid will receive what sort of salary boost to combat
this? As money is in short supply, will/should any increment depend on a
means-test? (Except perhaps for rather exceptional cases, should we in fact
have 'research-blind' admission support?) And what comparison will be made
with the lowest paid amongst those already in post? And who will check how
evenly all this is applied across the faculties? Council does not provide us with
any statistics to show how the additional salary scale points available over the
last couple of years have been distributed amongst the faculties, to which age
groups, and at what cost. My experience on the General Board's
Appointments Committee does not suggest that procedures in this regard are
robust enough. I also doubt the effectiveness of additional scale-points as a
means of retention (I speak as a former faculty board chairman): the really
high research flyer can get a far larger professorial salary elsewhere, which
makes our few puny points seem insignificant. My experience is quite contrary
to that of Mr Hay.

And what about anomalies? In respect of the proposed payments beyond
the joint maximum, we note that a head of division would have 'to provide
firm evidence that the award would not lead to unacceptable salary
anomalies'. How will/how can this be tested or policed? And why is this not
in any case a requirement for movement within the scale also, on or after
appointment? And if the joint maximum is breached, how would the collegiate
University prevent colleges collaborating or going it alone? And should
it?

These must be matters for discussions between Council and the Conference
of Colleges before legislation is enacted. Surely, an absolute
necessity, as a quid pro quo to stabilise and protect teaching
arrangements in respect of both general salary and ULNTF proposals, must
be that no joint appointee be allowed to resign only the college part of a joint
appointment. But I see no reference to this in what has been spelled out in the
Gazette.

Let me construct a likely scenario for you. A head of division, keen to
protect RAE grades, requests salary increments to allow a lecturer to afford
to resign the college half of a joint appointment. The college's chance of
refilling its vacancy is delayed more than usual because the division has
depleted its resources with the award of extra points on the scale. Schools
discover that the continuity of the college's much-vaunted tutorial
arrangements has been interrupted, and the tutorial burdens in the faculty on
other lecturers necessarily increase. Surely these issues must be further
discussed by Bursars and Senior Tutors before Council's principles are set in
concrete?

Burdens is a recruitment, retention, and fairness issue. It is very
disappointing that in face of the Gazette statement that 'the
level of burdens is in the eyes of many by far the most important issue', the
Personnel Committee can only come up with the proposal that subject-areas
should look into their teaching arrangements. At best, very uneven relief can
be achieved in this way (yes, there will always be some issues that are too
important to be left to the discretion of divisions alone), whereas for years the
University has been telling us that CUF lecturers (I declare an interest) are
overburdened across the board. The University has, in the past, provided
trade-offs and relief schemes centrally, in the first instance for CUFs
specifically. Proposals on contracts only seem to juggle the same load and the
units in which it is to be measured (I wonder, how accurately?) between
college and University. I reiterate: this is clearly a recruitment, retention, and
fairness issue—but where is the injunction obliging all faculties to move
towards, say, a 288-unit load, with progress towards this goal closely
monitored? Might we not now expect that resources will be allocated to
divisions in proportion to the number of lecturers and type of lecturer
specifically for burden relief? This will be expensive and take time to
introduce. However, it must be part of our strategy from the outset if we are
to provide proper conditions for academic staff already in post, as well as to
attract the best young research talent to apply for an Oxford
lecturership.

I leave the reintroduction of the recognition of distinction exercise aside:
those who have heard General Board discussions on the matter over the last
three years and the views of heads of department can only smile at any claim
of unanimity on this issue And as with the award of salary points, will not
Oxford be showing its preference for science by allowing its continuance
(because our arts colleagues will not apply)? May I say it is a pleasure to see
so many heads of science departments here today.

In summary, I suggest that before legislation is enacted, Council's
principles be amended to include the following, and that the implementation
of the statute should depend on the various agreements specified being struck:

(1) A lecturer shall not be permitted to resign from the college part of
a joint appointment only.

(2) High priority will be given to increasing salary levels at the bottom
of the scale for all appointees (with an expectation that between them colleges
will ensure that housing allowances reach an agreed level).

(3) High priority will be given to reducing burdens on lecturers (indeed,
on all academic staff) to, say, 288 units over a prescribed period of years and
central resources allocated to divisions proportionally on that basis.

(4) Council will seek an agreement with the Conference of Colleges for
payments above the joint maximum.

(5) The mechanism under Council's principle (g) to
govern salary payments above the joint maximum shall be applied in the same
way to movements within the age–wage scale, and arrangements for
testing that no unacceptable anomalies occur both within divisions and across
all divisions will be agreed with the Conference of Colleges.

(6) Council will seek agreement with the Conference of Colleges on
review, monitoring, and reporting procedures on all matters covered by the
legislation and, in particular, confidential reports to the Personnel Committee
will be shared with the Standing Committee of the Conference.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I hope you will use your best endeavours to ensure
that these assurances are incorporated into Council's principles and that the
final enactment of legislation is delayed until the necessary consultations have
taken place. These are matters of fairness, balance, and transparency and vital
to the aims of the University in the twenty-first century.

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PROFESSOR P. LANGFORD (Rector of Lincoln College): Mr
Vice-Chancellor, as Dr Collins has said, there are matters of real detail here,
some of which, it should be said, have been debated a great deal over recent
years, and some of which have been the subject of considerable consultation.
There are also broader concerns that have already informed this afternoon's
debate, and I must say I find it quite easy to sympathise with some of the
views of those who oppose the preamble and the legislation. What I do not do
is to agree with them in the least that those views point logically and
necessarily to voting against the legislation. It is plainly true that there are
major issues relating to salaries which will loom very large in the coming
months, if not years. I do not think it is the case that resolving them
acceptably depends on defeating what is proposed today, or on engaging in the
very precise dialogue in Dr Collins's outline proposal.

Performance-related pay was mentioned by Mr Williams and would
certainly represent a major change in Oxford's employment culture. My
understanding is that it has yet to be fully discussed in the context of the
HEFCE initiative, and in any event, the matter that we are discussing today,
that is, the statute in question, in no way implies any particular assumption
about the way that that initiative should be addressed. The retention and
recruitment arguments that have been discussed in detail already this afternoon
are deployed in relation to varying readers' and lecturers' salaries. They do
indeed have to do with market conditions, as Mr Hay said, and those
conditions tend to prevail in very specific subjects in very individual cases. I
do not see that they have a bearing on providing incentives or targets for
individuals more generally.

It is of course the case that the HEFCE initiative will force us to address
at some point the matter of rewards based on incentives. I should say the
arguments are not all on one side, and I think one needs to look very carefully
at them when they emerge. It is after all possible that if universities had joined
some years ago in the public service trend to incentive salary schemes they
might have done rather better in funding terms than they have in fact done.
It is also the case that many versions of these schemes that the public sector
has adopted have been rather less objectionable than the horrors that Mr
Williams was conjuring up. Indeed many of them would involve little more
than the personal research and teaching plans of the individuals who are
subjected to them. But in any event these questions will not be affected one
way or the other by today's proposals.

I know there is a real concern that what we are talking about today might
set back any prospect of restoring the sort of pay levels that we had before the
late 1970s. I cannot see that that is necessarily the case, though it is easy to
understand the concerns that give rise to that kind of contention. The
explanatory note makes emphatically clear that consideration of such a general
improvement of salaries should be treated as a fundamental aim during the
next two or three years, and indeed be built into the first stages of budget
building every year rather than simply being left to the end when there is no
money left to spend in such a cause. The explanatory note also spells out that
the present constraints which prevent a significant increase in general salary
levels derive partly from previous failures to adopt that kind of systematic
planning approach as well as from the funding deficiencies which we all
recognise. And above all the explanatory note emphasises that the flexibility
now sought for lecturers' salaries, as Mr Hay emphasised, will only be used
in exceptional cases that do not prejudice the question of overall wage
uplift.

Much has been said of collegiality, and that is something that goes to the
heart of what we believe in in Oxford, but I do wonder whether it is wise to
tie it so closely and systematically to the long-standing joint maximum that
governs the lecturers' pay scale in particular. At any rate, if we are to die in
the last ditch for such an unglamorous-sounding thing as the joint maximum,
it does behove us to be aware of its precise significance. Mention has already
been made of the procedures by which colleges, in effect, evade some of the
effects of the joint maximum. After all, for any individual lecturer it is not the
joint maximum that determines the quantity and quality of rewards but the
total package of pay and conditions. We are all aware surely that for many
years colleges have proved quite adept at designing such packages for their
fellows, employing a variety of allowances in fact, in order to enhance the
joint maximum. The result is a good deal of difference between the way
colleges treat their employees, creating a great mass of vested interests and
making it hard to compare the lot even of those working in similar fields with
similar burdens but situated in different colleges. This is a form of collegiality
that in the strictest sense stops at the college gate. To the extent, by today's
proposal, that the University will have regard to the sum of college allowances
in any particular case where it is proposed to make additional payments, this
legislation will in some small degree actually act as a corrective measure in
some instances. Of course, what is obvious to us all is that this mess
desperately needs sorting out at some point in the not-too-distant future. But
I think to argue the importance of the joint maximum at this stage, and in this
specific argument or debate, for the sake of preserving intact the present
system, would attribute to that system a rationality that it certainly lacks

Today's measures are plainly not an attempt at a major strategic departure
nor could they attempt to be. It seems to me rather that they represent a
sensible set of answers to some pressing and awkward questions, some of
which have been in agitation for a long time. They do not prejudge what is to
be done on the broader matters that interest all of us on both sides of today's
question. I think we would do well to complete this preliminary business so
that the new governing structure can get to grips with the really important
policy decisions, not least those that bear on academic salaries at large, and
as soon as possible.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I beg to support the preamble.

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MS J.M. INNES (Somerville College): Mr Vice-Chancellor, I speak as a
history tutor and as a member of the Personnel Committee: I am a
representative of the Humanities Division on the Personnel Committee. In my
brief remarks I am going to say a few things about the committee's views. I
should stress they stand open to correction from the proposer and seconder of
the motion, who will be speaking at the end.

The Personnel Committee is a heterogeneous committee which reflects
within itself many of the tensions and much of the diversity of the university
body, and it may not surprise you to hear that many of the discussions we are
having today remind me of discussions that took place within the committee
itself. The committee was divided on some of the points on which
Congregation today is divided. But I do not want to suggest that the outcome
represented the victory of one section of the committee over another section
of the committee. Rather, there was the usual process of arguing, exchanging
ideas, trying to find some sort of mutually acceptable balance. We have issues
here on which repeated Congregation debates have shown that the University
is deeply divided, and these divisions run through certain sectors of the
University, but they also run within the heads of many of us, who feel torn
between different imperatives and ideals.

I would like to take up two points that have emerged from the opponents'
remarks. First of all, some of the more general issues which are addressed in
the Personnel Committee's paper are not the subject of today's motion. It is
not the case that in approving the preamble today, Congregation will be
approving what are certainly the rather vaguely conceived indications the
Personnel Committee has given of the direction in which it plans to move, or
hopes to move, on other fronts. As the explanatory note itself says, the
Personnel Committee will continue to discuss the detailed arrangements that
might be made to carry these proposals forward, and much will hang, in this
as in other cases, on what these detailed arrangements are. So this is not a
case of a blank cheque being given to the Personnel Committee to carry all
these proposals forward. The point of putting forward various rather vaguely
conceived proposals was to provide a context in which people would see that
what is proposed here is not to carry the whole weight of sorting out the
University's personnel strategy. This is only a small part, in fact a very small
part I would hope, of the way in which the University will move
forwards.

Secondly, I might say on the suggestion that further consultation is
necessary for all these proposals to be carried forwards that up to a point I am
certainly in favour of consultation. I think debates like the one we are having
today can be a useful part of that process. But, speaking as a CUF lecturer
who has now been twenty years in the University, who for the last ten years
has been involved in discussions about how we can rationalise burdens, who
has seen proposals, though acceptable both to my faculty and to my college,
blocked because the collective decision-making processes of the University
bring in other people who are not sympathetic to the resolution of these
questions, I have many doubts about the repeated seeking of consensus among
all bodies across the University before we resolve the teaching issues that arise
in particular parts of it. So that I would hope we can be selective in our more
elaborate consultation exercises, and make intermittent testings of opinion, and
use other forms of consultation—through the divisional faculty structure,
and through Congregation debate—to sound opinion on smaller
issues.

The particular issues that are highlighted in the motion today are intended,
as has been said, very much as a stop-gap. They are a minor part of the
Personnel Committee's and Council's vision of how the University should
move forwards. I agree with many of the things, perhaps all of the things, that
have been said by way of expressing doubt about what might happen,
particularly if they come to play a larger part in how the University proceeds.
Yes, they are an inadequate way of recognising merit; that is certainly true.
They tend to favour payments to those who have been recruited or who need
to be retained and not to staff in place; that is very unsatisfactory, and we
need better ways of recognising the merit of staff in place. But everything is
going to depend on how the balance between these specific proposals and the
larger plans outlined in the paper are struck. I am a historian, I do not pretend
to be able to see the future; I do not know how this is going to work out.
What I am sure is that the determinants of the future will be complex and will
include the ethos which is shared among many people in the University and,
as I have said, also represented on Personnel Committee, which is very wary
of allowing these sorts of ideas to go too far.

Finally, it seems to me that Gavin Williams's request, that the relationship
between these proposals and the HEFCE proposals be clarified, is a
reasonable one. I think the reason why the HEFCE proposals are not referred
to here is because it is in no way intended that what is before Congregation
today be the University's way of carrying forward what HEFCE has asked
for. The two sets of proposals emerged independently. The response of the
Personnel Committee to the HEFCE proposals was almost entirely negative.
They were thought to be an unhelpful, impolitic, overly prescriptive,
inadequately funded vision of how personnel matters might be handled in
future. I am sure the University will do its best to see that these things are
handled better.

Mr Vice-Chancellor, I would like to support the preamble.

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PROFESSOR J.N.P. RAWLINS (University College): Mr Vice-Chancellor,
I am assuming that many people are already happy with the idea that we need
(1) to be able to provide for merit awards for statutory professors, and (2) that
we need to be able to be more flexible in positioning new appointees on their
salary scales. I therefore propose to confine my remarks to addressing the
issue of whether or not we should also permit flexibility so that discretionary
payments can be made to some lecturers to take them past the current joint
maximum.

My primary argument in favour of this is one that we have heard already
this afternoon: we are merely one component of a competitive world. Our
academic staff has freedom to move from university to university both within
and outwith the United Kingdom, and the more talented our staff members
are, the more likely it becomes that well-planned attempts will be made to
attract them elsewhere. We cannot safely assume that we are so strong as to
be immune from this kind of competition. Lecturers in Oxford who have
reached their mid-forties and are being paid at the joint maximum have no
very obvious career prospects to look forward to if they elect to stay here for
the next twenty years, but they do face an entirely predictable, gradually
worsening standard of living: this makes for a pretty dreary outlook. So why
would the best people at this point in their lives elect to spend the rest of their
academic careers in Oxford, if there are well-calculated offers of better
options elsewhere?

At present, to the extent that we have any particular thoughts about how
to ensure that such people stay, it seems to tend to come down to our
intellectual capital—other outstanding academics, first-rate students, and
a history of valuing excellence are all powerful attractions. We can top that
up with the undeniable beauty of the place, and the varied pleasures of our
collegiate lives. Taken together, these are no mean assets; but our ability to
retain our intellectual magnetism relies on our ability to keep enough of the
best people here. Now we have, of course, great strength in depth; we do not
just rely on our statutory professors and readers to provide academic
leadership, and to attract other outstanding appointees. Our extended range of
outstanding people is, after all, what motivates my concerns. But if we lose
enough of our intellectual capital assets, I do not believe we will be able to
find the new resources necessary to rebuild them. Beautiful buildings simply
will not be enough; it is the living University that is the key asset we have to
defend. I contend that we do need to be able to marshal extra reasons for
people to stay. I hope that we would also want to do our best to reward people
of outstanding quality.

Now, I recognise that these kinds of comments may seem a bit abstract,
divorced of real, specific examples. All I can say in response to that is that
I do know, at first hand, real examples of friends and colleagues who have
left Oxford, or are planning to leave Oxford, because they do not see how
they can afford not to do so. They are concerned at how they will manage
financially if they stay here to retiring age. Part of this, I suppose, may stem
from demographic changes. There has been a clear tendency for people to
start their families later; one of my own children will still be at university (if
they make it and if I can afford it) when I retire, but I have colleagues older
than I am with children who are younger than mine. I do not think that it is
unrealistic for such people to care about their financial futures; and I think
that it would be unrealistic of us to refuse to figure out what we can do about
this situation. There are better financial prospects available elsewhere for our
best staff members; and we should do our best to ensure that Oxford is at least
as appealing a prospect.

Why might we not go ahead? One argument is that any scheme would
simply be impractical: we would not have a defensible mechanism for making
the selections; and even if we did, it would use up too much valuable time.
I suppose one answer to this is that our competitors manage to do it, and we
ought to be able to manage at least as well as they do. Another is that such a
scheme would be divisive: that the cost of upsetting those who fail to obtain
discretionary awards might outweigh the happiness of those who succeed.
Well, that will depend on how many such awards there are, and at what level.
We do need to ensure that we deliver a pay-off matrix that works in the
interests of the collegiate University. A variant of this, of course, is concern
about the envy of those who do not have awards and who have to sit down
and work with people doing essentially the same job who are paid more. All
I can say here is that I spend a lot of time working alongside my better paid
colleagues in clinical medicine, and it does not really seem very
difficult.

Why do we need to pass the motion? Could we not wait until it is all
worked out properly and then vote on a specific package? I do not think we
should take that option seriously. Why would anyone bother to spend the time
working on something that is bound to be difficult unless they believed that
they are aiming for a shared goal? To say, 'Go ahead,' but without any sense
of at least outline approval of the underlying idea would be the worst kind of
stalling (I appreciate that kicking into touch in this way is an effective
technique but I think it is hard to represent it as an intellectually admirable
way of resolving problems).

The motion gives us the chance to develop stratagems for looking after our
own institution and its membership. I would not want us to remain passive in
the face of changes elsewhere, and trust that Congregation will support the
motion.

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PROFESSOR A.D. SMITH (Lady Margaret Hall): Mr Vice-Chancellor, I did
not intend to speak but some of the things that have been said this afternoon
make me, provoke me, to. I am from Lady Margaret Hall, I am a Schedule
A Professor, and I am also Chairman of the Appointments Committee of the
Division of Medical Sciences, so I would just like to comment on a few things
that Mr Williams and other speakers said.

First of all, at the bottom end in terms of recruitment, we have made four
appointments to university lecturerships since the new division was created,
and three of those we would not have been able to make without the flexibility
to go above the age–wage scale, so additional flexibility is going to be
extremely welcome and helpful in recruitment.

Secondly, the point was made by, I think, Dr Williams about the current
lecturers having a sort of line to the head of division and getting things
through with regard to enhancing their own salary. Our division has set up,
under the head, Dr Fleming, a small group who will very carefully scrutinise
and look at these issues. There will not be a one-man band, and of course
heads of department will be involved.

Thirdly, in relation to anomalies that might be created, the current situation
in going above the age–wage scale requires the anomalies to be looked
at. The head of department has to assure the Appointments Committee that no
anomalies will be created, so that is actually in place at the moment.

Finally, and I think for me most important, is the issue of the university
lecturers at the top of the joint maximum. I feel, as a Schedule A Professor,
extremely embarrassed that we have a merit-award system for Schedule A
Professors, but my equally distinguished or more distinguished colleagues who
are university lecturers and titular professors or readers do not, and at least
the proposal in front of us today would correct that extraordinary anomaly in
this University.

So I would like to encourage you to support the motion.

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MR HOAD: Mr Vice-Chancellor, I just want to take a few minutes really to
pick up one theme that has been talked about quite a lot, and that is the
general significance of what we are being asked to vote on today. A speaker
a moment ago talked about how it was important to have outline approval
before the University might proceed with elaborating a more comprehensive
scheme for dealing with the various problems. The measures we are
discussing this afternoon were similarly described, a bit earlier than that, as
a stop-gap. We have been assured how very few awards are likely to be made,
either because there is not enough money to make very many, or because the
criteria to be applied in deciding on them are so robust that not many people
will clear the hurdle. We have been told equally that the wording of the
statute which we are asked to approve this afternoon has to be understood in
the context of the explanatory note, and that really it is not going to mean
anything too dangerous.

It does seem to me that we are being asked to approve a very wide-ranging
authority for Council. It may well be that the current intention is merely to
achieve this very small aim which is being presented to us, but it does seem
to me a rather large sledgehammer, in that case, to crack this particular nut,
to leave too many risks in the future, and to be an inappropriate and
insufficiently thought-out, and certainly insufficiently consulted-on, proposal
for us to accept today. I remain firmly of the view that we should reject it.

Return to list of speakers


MR WILLIAMS: Mr Vice-Chancellor, a number of cogent points have been
made by very distinguished members of the University in support of this
proposition. They have not convinced me, at least, that the arguments for
bringing forth this statute in the form in which it is brought forward and at the
time that it is brought forward have been made, and I remain unconvinced that
the points I made in criticism, points as much of logic as of policy preference,
have been met.

For example, I argued that the proposed arrangements would create a
perverse incentive structure, in which people would be encouraged to seek
jobs elsewhere as the only way of enhancing their salaries. That the incentive
to maximise one's saleability in the market through the forms of research
performance which are recognised and certified, which is not quite the same
thing as doing research and publishing it, would take precedence over other
sorts of commitments which most of us do find, at least at the margins, to be
burdensome, though I am among those who find teaching delightful; and this
will create a set of administrative problems which will not be met by
specifying in detail the levels of and by counting our teaching, administrative,
and examining obligations. For somebody who is not going to be in a position
of trying to get his colleagues to do these things, I can only say I shall be very
grateful and I wish those many of you here today who are going to have to do
them well in trying to do this.

Professor Rawlins thought it was intellectually not admirable to suggest
that what we need to do with this resolution is to kick it into touch. As a
South African, I know about kicking into touch, and I would like to extend the
metaphor. When you kick a ball into touch the ball goes back into the field;
my suggestion is that the ball should go back into the field when the rules of
the game have been specified, as is not yet the case.

I appreciate that we do suffer losses to other universities. We are told that
there are few very important cases and that the relatively small sums of money
involved will be very carefully allocated. We are also told that we are full of
people who are not adequately rewarded and who will have the aspiration to
go through the glass ceiling, i.e. that there will be many people whom we will
need to reward under these sorts of proposals. It does not seem to me that we
can argue on the one hand, as Dr Walker did, that the Personnel Committee
does not wish to allow our salaries and the organisation of the University to
be determined by the market place, and then to be told that we must allocate
salaries in accordance with a particular, rather narrow aspect of the market,
because, after all, the market for a particular sector of academic employees
is not the market as a whole.

And I have to say to my colleague Ms Innes that I do not understand her
view that this affects only a small part of the market, only in some areas, and
only a small number of individuals. Markets do not work like that: they are
not insulated from one another and they do interact in determining the forces,
in determining the prices, even the prices at which different universities are
wishing to bid for academic jobs.

So I continue with my argument that the procedures are unclear. We are
told, for example, that the resolution is a separate question from the proposals
of the Joint Working Party, which are to be put forward by the Personnel
Committee. For anybody who read the explanatory note, which discusses at
some length the work of the Personnel Committee, it might have been
reasonable to think that some of those proposals were relevant to these and
that there might be some relationship between them. If there is a relationship
between them, we are still awaiting proper consultation with colleges, and
indeed with departments and, certainly in my case, sub-faculties, of those
proposals before anybody can say that they are ready for discussion; and that
seems to have been accepted by Ms Innes, who is a member of the Personnel
Committee, so I am not sure how it is right to separate a key element, at least
spelt out at some length in the explanatory note, from the preamble to the
statute.

It is also not clear to me why a statute which is drawn in very broad terms,
with no specific qualifications or requirements that specific proposals which
Council might agree to should be brought back to Congregation, needs to be
drawn up in that form, and why we are not thereby being asked to vote for
a lot of things down the line which we were unaware of when the vote took
place.

I argued that the proposals are unstable, and it appears from what Mr Hay
says and from what Professor Rawlins says that this is indeed likely to be the
case. If we are going to allow particular rules in specific cases for exceptional
reasons, we will find that there is, quite reasonably, given not least the
distinction of many members of the University, a multiplication of exceptional
cases. The rules will therefore be unstable. If the rules are unstable, we must
make decisions not on what we think the first-round effects of those rules will
be, but what those effects will be after a series of iterations.

We are told that HEFCE and the demands made by HEFCE are not
relevant to this particular case—demands which HEFCE has publicly
made and to which the University must make a response, and indeed is
expected by HEFCE to arrive at a decision by the middle of this year. But to
take one aspect of our potential response, which is to say that we have put in
play procedures for retention, recruitment, and differential rewards, without
recognising that this will not meet HEFCE requirements, seems to me to
evade the issues which either Council does not plan to bring to Congregation
or which will have to come back to Congregation within the current academic
year. That being the case, it seems to me that the proposals are
untimely.

To summarise, I think the proposals are unclear, undesirable, unstable,
untimely. I also think that they are incoherent, and either that the arguments
that have been made for them are internally contradictory, or that arguments
made by one speaker have contradicted another. I am therefore arguing to
Council, not, 'Abandon these questions': we have no option but to look at and
continue to think about these questions, but, 'Come back when you have
thought through the implications and when you can put forward a more cogent
and coherent set of proposals which we are ready to consider properly.'

Return to list of speakers


DR WALKER: Mr Vice-Chancellor, I find myself in so remarkable a degree
of agreement with so many of the speakers on both sides, that I am not quite
certain how to put the points that I actually feel so strongly about, in a way
that will make them effective in everyone's minds. I think many good points
have been raised by those who are opposing today's promulgation...
[At this point the tape-recording arrangements failed. The remainder
of Dr Walker's second speech, and the second speech by the Principal of
Somerville, are summarised below.
]

Summary report

DR WALKER (continued): ...I think that many of them are indeed not
unfamiliar from the discussions of the Personnel Committee and of Council;
though other points have been made that those bodies will no doubt wish to
take into account in considering the further steps that they must take.

One point on which I agree with Mr Williams is that we must avoid a
perverse incentive structure, one in which people are encouraged to seek jobs
elsewhere in order to gain a pay rise here. It is for exactly this reason that we
need the flexibility not only to retain people, but also to reward those who are
not thinking of leaving but who are equally deserving. This I think brings me
into conflict with Mr Hoad, who believes that considerations of merit are
sharply different in kind from considerations to do with recruitment and
retention, and that the present proposals are wrong to bring them together. It
is essential, however, that we treat people fairly and equally, if only to avoid
the perverse incentive structure that so concerns Mr Williams. There appears
to be some tension between the views of Mr Hoad and Mr Williams here; but
perhaps I have misunderstood them.

Council's proposals today make no attempt to solve all the problems. We
cannot afford to wait until all the problems are solved. If we are to retain our
competitive position we must go ahead now and introduce the flexibilities
proposed by Council and the Personnel Committee. These are needed,
however we resolve the complex issues of what is called 'the relief of
burdens'. It is true that discussions on those issues have been very protracted.
I am sorry about this, and I bear as much responsibility as anyone for the
delays. A great deal of progress has been made, nevertheless, and the matter
has taken so much time because it has turned out to be extraordinarily
complicated: more so, I think, than anyone really appreciated at the outset.
The concerns of colleges have to be taken into account along with those of
faculties and departments; there are numerous complexities that arise from the
variety of different obligations that people currently have around the
University. As the Principal has said, we now seem close to a resolution of
the issue about ULNTFs. This issue has proved to be highly complex in itself,
but if we can get it solved it is likely that the other problems will become
more tractable.

We cannot wait until all the problems are solved; Mr Williams's appeal to
the Principle of Unripe Time is out of place. We are not responding to
potential threats from HEFCE, but to a pressure that is present, immediate,
and due to the competitive character of the world we live in. We can regret
that this pressure exists, but it is a reality, and we must respond to it now. If
we leave the matter for another year, we risk losing people we cannot do
without. What is at stake is our standing as an international university. What
is needed is action; urgent action. I hope this House will support the
promulgation, and will encourage Council to act urgently.

Return to list of speakers


DAME FIONA CALDICOTT: Mr Vice-Chancellor, we have heard many
carefully argued, cogent speeches. I am sorry if those of us supporting the
preamble have not achieved greater clarity, as far as our opponents are
concerned. But I do not accept that our proposals lack intellectual rigour.
And I must emphasise that they do not describe a generalised scheme for
market-based pay, and certainly not for performance-related pay. We are
adding a potential solution to a number of others on academic remuneration,
which are already in hand.

We are asking Congregation to support a modest element of potential
flexibility at the top of the pay scale. This is available for virtually every other
staff group in the University, and for our competitors. We have tried to
answer positively the question, 'Can flexibility at the top of the lecturers'
scale ever be permissible?' This would be used rarely, in consultation with
colleges, and in cases of overwhelming academic importance. In contrast, the
opposition suggests that such flexibility should never be
permissible, however compelling the case.

It appears that we have not been heard when we have confirmed that
there must be collaboration between the divisions and the colleges, in
individual cases, if this preamble is supported. The question of how decisions
will be reached has been raised, but this is set out clearly in the explanatory
note and has been usefully glossed today.

It has been alleged that we lack coherence, particularly with regard to
HEFCE's proposals. But it is not yet known what HEFCE's precise
requirements of Oxford may be, or how much money there will be for this
University, or how much there will be for academic as opposed to
non-academic staff, or how much will be distributed across the board.

The proposals are designed to meet Oxford's own needs by introducing
modest and carefully controlled measures alongside the operation of standard
scales. The University will not be able to maintain its 'place at the top', in the
more competitive academic world that it is in, without the possibility to
reward, retain, and recruit lecturers in exceptional academic circumstances,
by using flexibility above the top of the scale.

I invite you, therefore, to vote for the preamble.


The preamble was carried on a division [For, 44; Against, 20]. As
fifty members of Congregation then demanded a postal vote, however, the
approval of the preamble was 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 Friday, 30 March
, the date fixed by Mr
Vice-Chancellor for holding the vote.

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