University's Mission Statement and Strategic Plan - (3) to No 4484

<br /> Oxford University Gazette: University's Mission Statement<br /> (supplement)

Oxford University Gazette

University's Mission Statement and Strategic

Supplement (3) to Gazette No. 4484

Wednesday, 30 September 1998

Contents of the

Gazette No. 4485 (1 October

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The University is required to send each year to the
Higher Education Funding Council for England a Mission
Statement and a Strategic Plan covering the next four
years. The statement and plan sent by the University in
July 1998 are set out below.

Mission Statement: University of

The nature of the University and its principal aims

The University's long-term aims are:

(a) To ensure that the University, as a
self-governing academic community, maintains and enhances
its standing as a university of international standing in
both teaching and research.

(b) To identify new areas of study and
research for development and enhancement, responding to
contemporary developments in both the intellectual and
national environment.

(c) To maintain the health of the college
system, which allows the University to combine the
economies of scale and special facilities of a large
university with a close-knit and responsive working
environment for teaching and the exchange of ideas in a
democratic community of scholars.

(d) To provide education and training of
excellent quality at undergraduate and postgraduate

(e) To strengthen the research base of the
University and, if necessary, adjust the balance of time
accorded by members of academic staff to teaching,
research, and administration.

(f) To raise the profile of graduate studies
in the University over the next decade.

(g) To encourage applications from students
of the highest calibre from overseas and facilitate
appropriate international experience for its own staff
and students.

( h) To be more widely accessible, both by
broadening recruitment to its degree courses, and by
expansion of opportunities for life- long learning
including high-quality post-experience vocational courses
and other part-time courses leading to awards, and by
preserving the important provision of non-award-bearing

(i) To conserve, enhance, and utilise fully its
special resources including its libraries, museums, and
scientific collections.

(j) To maintain close collaboration with
industry and the professions in pursuing research and to
ensure that the fruits of that research are made
available to outside bodies both for commercial
exploitation and more generally for the benefit of

Given these long-term aims, the University's general
objectives in the period 1998--2002 are:

(k) To continue to attract high-quality
students and staff, who are essential for the maintenance
of the University's academic standing.

(l) To provide appropriate facilities for the
support of research across all subject areas where the
University is active, and to build on the excellent
results obtained in the 1996 RAE.

(m) To continue to exploit to the full the
advantages of the collegiate system.

(n) To strengthen further the links within the
collegiate University and in particular through the work
of the Commission of Inquiry (see Strategic Plan below)
to review the operation and structure of the collegiate
University and its decision-making machinery and its
strategic objectives.

(o) Continuously to review teaching and research and
monitor academic standards in each.

(p) To reappraise and rationalise the allocation of
space in the light of present and anticipated needs.

(q) To develop further an Information Strategy whose
goals are to ensure that information of all kinds is made
accessible effectively and efficiently to all sectors of
the University, in accordance with needs, to improve
effective communication throughout the university
community, and to make the necessary structural changes
to library and information services in the furtherance of
these ends.

(r) To develop further both teaching and research
links with the European Community and other countries and
to facilitate entry by the highest-quality students on a
world-wide basis.

(s) To encourage access to the University by a wider
range of applicants and significantly to expand its
contribution to vocational and non-vocational Continuing

(t) To continue to develop flexible policies and
procedures to encourage the funding of research from a
wide variety of outside sources and to further
income-generation by the exploitation of intellectual

(u) To further its ability to provide for the needs
a major international university by securing additional
resources through its Development Programme.

Strategic Plan: University of


1. The major elements of the University's
strategy for 1998--2002 are as follows:

(a) Relative stability in full-time
undergraduate numbers and modest growth in full-time
graduate numbers, of about 1 per cent per annum; modest
expansion of part-time student numbers.

(b) Planning major physical developments,
including developments for Arts and Social Sciences on
the Ashmolean/Taylorian site and on the St Cross site
respectively, Management Studies (subject to the raising
of capital), the relocation of clinical academic
departments from the Radcliffe Infirmary (RI) site to
Headington (subject to the provision of the necessary
funds), the intended purchase of the RI site and planning
for its development for university purposes.

(c) Reaching decisions on the key
recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, which
reported at the beginning of this year.

(d) Continuing review of the balance of
duties of academic staff and the implementation of the
new promotions policy.

(e) Completion of a resource review and
implementation of its decisions including continuing
appraisal of the effect of the dual support transfer and
of the continuing cuts in units of resource being imposed

(f) Continuing development of IT
infrastructure and delivery to the desktop of a range of
information services, building on and further extending a
widespread backbone network, exploiting sophisticated
library, file, and other servers, and integrating a wide
variety of information resources.

(g) The continuation of a major programme of
external fund raising, after the end of the Development
Campaign in 1994. This is focusing on certain subject
initiatives already begun under the auspices of the
Development Campaign, such as Management Studies,
American Studies, and European Studies, and on the funds
needed for the development of the Ashmolean/Taylorian and
St Cross sites.

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2. There are two elements in the current
environment affecting the University which are likely to
have a significant impact in the medium term on the
development of future plans. The first of these arises
from the work of the Commission of Inquiry, which made
recommendations about the structure of Oxford's
governance and its approach to strategic planning and
related matters, and also a number of substantive issues
about Oxford's future strategic direction.

3. The Commission was established in 1994,
to review
the operation and structure of the collegiate University
and its decision-making machinery, and completed its
report at the end of 1997. Its recommendations both cover
the University's structure of governance, including
strategic planning and the relationship between different
bodies within the University, and also consider a number
of broad strategic issues such as the balance between
teaching and research, the University's future size and
shape, and the structure of the joint appointment system
between the University and the colleges. The report is
currently the subject of consultation and discussion
within the University.

4. The second factor affecting all planning
at present
is the uncertainty about the future funding of Oxford in
the light of the Government's decision to cease paying
college fees and to channel additional resources through
HEFCE to the University. There are also general
uncertainties created by the new funding regime for
higher education, which affect Oxford as much as other

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(1) Planning environment

5. Academic and financial planning in Oxford
overseen by the central executive bodies (Council and the
General Board) working through their joint Resources
Committee. Detailed planning is undertaken through the
University's sixteen faculties and seventy principal
academic departments, working closely with the colleges
as appropriate, which have important responsibilities for
undergraduate teaching, graduate provision, and support
of research. The work of the faculties and departments is
overseen by the General Board of the Faculties, which has
overall responsibility for the University's academic
planning and resource allocation. Particular features of
the General Board's planning mechanisms include:

(a) a regular programme of reviews of
departments and faculties, on a ten-yearly cycle, in each
case involving thorough reappraisal of the department or
faculty's programme of teaching and research, conducted
by a specially appointed review committee consisting
largely of external members;

(b) an annual system of reporting, whereby
each faculty board submits a report to the General Board,
reviewing its work in the previous year and setting out
plans for future development;

(c) as part of the annual budget exercise, a
review of priorities for refilling vacant academic posts,
taking account of academic plans and new developments in
teaching and research. Reviews of academic strategy are
especially important when considering the refilling of
statutory professorships and readerships, whose holders
provide leadership and strategic direction to the work of
individual faculties and departments as a whole.

6. Oversight of these planning mechanisms is
undertaken both by the General Board itself, and by its
committees, in particular the Planning and Development
Committee and the Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

7. Within this framework, faculties and
have developed a range of planning priorities governing
the period under consideration, covering undergraduate
courses, graduate courses, and research. Many of these
developments represent the continuing growth of
well-established areas of work, whereas others involve
new developments and initiatives either to open up wholly
new areas of work or to break fresh ground in well
established fields. Developments in research,
undergraduate teaching, and graduate teaching, in
particular subject areas are often very closely related.

8. During 1996--7 the University began a new
comprehensive planning exercise and at present stands
between the old and new régimes. A report on the
use of all the University's sites, and a review of likely
needs for land over the next twenty years or so has been
completed and adopted by the University. Faculties have
now provided ten-year plans and overviews of their
subjects. These are being digested and in due course
approved proposals will be placed in a long-term plan,
integrating faculty desiderata and the requirements of
support services within the constraints of sites and
financial resources. A particularly important issue now
being addressed is capital finance and how best the
University can meet its long-term needs both for
additional accommodation and for modernising
accommodation. A review of fund-raising strategy has
taken place and fund-raising priorities are now being
discussed alongside the emerging overall plan.

(2) General academic developments

9. While the new planning process is being
existing plans are being implemented. The following are
some of the most important; many are on a scale which
means they will inevitably be incorporated in the new
long-term plans. The following plans in particular may be

Physical Sciences. The development of a
unitary departmental structure for Chemistry is now well
under way. The long-term planning process referred to in
para. 8 has established that the need of Chemistry for a
new building is probably the highest such priority for
the University and discussions are beginning on how to
find the very large sums required. A site is available.

Management/Business Studies. Plans for the
new building for the Said Business School and other
aspects of the development of the school are now under

Accommodation for non-departmentally organised
. The new plans will reiterate the
University's long-term aim of improving the provision for
the non-departmentally organised subjects (i.e.
humanities subjects and parts of the social sciences).
The site strategy review referred to in para. 8 has paid
particular attention to this. The review of capital needs
and capital funds also referred to in that paragraph is
crucial to the solution of the shortage of space for
subjects which traditionally have been college based.
With the estimated completion in the autumn of 1999 of
Phase I of the St Cross site development, a Department of
Economics will be created and significant extra space
provided for English and Law. The provision of funds for
further phases of this development is a high priority.
Museum and library developments already in hand on the
Ashmolean/Taylorian site strengthen the case for the
provision of the proposed Classics Centre there.

Continuing Education. The University has
completed a review of Continuing Education which
confirmed the quality and importance of the department's
work. Discussions are continuing about some aspects of
its possible future development, in part in the context
of university-wide discussions on access.

American Studies. Following success in fund
raising, the building for the Institute for American
Studies (now to be called the Oxford American Institute)
has begun. This will provide space for interdisciplinary
studies in this area and for a new library, rehousing the
Rhodes House Library and other relevant collections.
Planning of the academic work of the institute is

Libraries. Following the appointment to the
new post of Director of University Library Services and
Bodley's Librarian and the creation of new, interim,
constitutional arrangements for Oxford's libraries, work
will continue on the long-term aims of improved
integration and co-ordination of libraries.

Taught graduate courses. The University is
continuing to develop its programme of taught graduate
courses. Particular attention will continue to be paid to
the various schemes for pilot courses drawn up by
research councils and by the Wellcome Trust.

Biosciences. The rapid intellectual advances
in the Biosciences led to the publication of a strategy
document in 1993--4. In 1994--5 proposals for radical
reorganisation of this area were produced. Decisions on
the proposals which have been extensively discussed in
the last two years now await the recommendation of the
Commission of Inquiry. Within the general context of the
strategy for the Biosciences, developments in Anatomy and
the Dunn School of Pathology are now taking place. There
are also plans for developments in Genetics. Plans for
Anatomy are now being implemented.

Medicine. The creation of the Institute of
Health Sciences, to bring together the many different
groups working in Oxford in epidemiology, evidence-based
medicine, health services research, and related areas, is
well on the way to fruition. This will fully establish
and develop a third main element of clinical medical
research to complement Oxford's significant strengths in
basic biomedical research as related to medicine and in
clinical-based research. The development of biomedical
research through the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics
is now under way. Further proposals are under discussion
in the context of the long-term NHS plans to transfer all
remaining clinical activity from the Radcliffe Infirmary
to the Headington sites. The University has outline plans
for increases of up to fifty in both the pre-clinical and
clinical intakes in the context of national discussions
on this subject. Capital needs are a serious problem here

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(3) Research strategy

10. The research strategy set out in the
version of this plan, which described how the additional
funds gained as a result of the last RAE would be used,
has continued. Investment in new academic appointments
and equipment, in funds for the support of academic staff
by short-term reduction in teaching load or the provision
of temporary research assistance, and in libraries and
IT, is all crucial. The discussions referred to above on
capital development priorities are equally important in
this area; better provision for non-departmentally
organised faculties will enable them to secure funds for
collaborative and project research which is not easy to
carry out at present because of lack of space.

11. The University already has a central
research fund
which is available for a limited number of purposes, in
particular for pump-priming research before it is at the
stage when external funding can be applied for. The
University has now decided that the opportunities which
are, or may be, available for reinforcing its research
effort justify greater investment and it is therefore
establishing a research development fund, for the
strategic stimulus of research.

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12. As indicated in its mission statement,
the University
is determined to nurture excellence in all subjects.
Given the limitations of physical plant, the University
for a number of years has been planning to restrain
growth in total full-time student numbers (home/EU and
overseas) to around 1 per cent per annum across almost
all subject areas, with a modest increase in the ratio of
science to arts students (currently 42:58). One factor
relating to the University's capacity for growth is that
residential accommodation in the city is expensive and in
short supply, and the local planning authority expects
the University and the colleges to provide accommodation
for all additional students, an expectation which in
recent years the collegiate University has fulfilled.
Moreover, within Oxford itself, there is a shortage of
sites for new buildings for teaching, research, and
student accommodation. Given the constraints on space and
the existence of two universities within the city, the
University operates an informal zoning agreement with
Oxford Brookes University.

13. The University's 1990 planning statement
overall growth of 1 per cent per annum with an increase
in the proportion of graduates to undergraduates. In
keeping with that statement, and following a somewhat
greater rate of expansion earlier in the decade, growth
in undergraduate numbers over the past few years has been
significantly less than 1 per cent per annum (with an
overall growth since Michaelmas Term 1989 of 10 per
cent). For the present, the University assumes that such
numbers should be held at the current level for the time
being. Should expansion become possible, the University
is likely under present plans to resume a policy of
limited growth of up to 1 per cent with a marginally
greater growth in graduate numbers than in undergraduate
(currently 30:70).

14. As planned, graduate numbers have been
growing at a
faster rate than undergraduate numbers (21 per cent since
Michaelmas Term 1989). The University is continuing to
monitor the growth in graduate numbers in line with these

15. The constraints referred to above are
less applicable
to the provision made for part-time students, and the
University consequently envisages moderate growth in this
area, the state of which will depend on the outcome of
the current review of Continuing Education.

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(1) General points

16. The University aims to continue to recruit and retain
staff at the highest quality. Revised guidelines on the
recruitment of staff have been issued in the light of
recent tribunal experience and the employment provisions
of the Disability Discrimination Act. A pilot scheme for
the confidential monitoring of the ethnic origin, as well
as sex, of job applicants is being evaluated.

17. National salary settlements have failed
to keep pace
with increases paid to comparable staff in the private
and public sectors. In response to this the University
has introduced a new professorial salary structure, which
allows the most distinguished staff to command salaries
of nearly £60K, and has also moved to increase the
stipends of university lecturers without tutorial
fellowships. It is now undertaking an exhaustive review
of its academic salary structure. It is continuing annual
exercises under the policy whereby the title of professor
or reader, without changes in salary or duties, may be
conferred on all applicants of requisite standard. In
addition to the enhancement of professorial distinction
awards, the range of selective salary payments for other
staff (e.g. super-scale or special payments on grounds of
recruitment, retention, and merit) has been maintained
following the inclusion of an element for this purpose in
previous salary settlements, and in the light of
recruitment difficulties the University is considering a
proposal to increase the number of super-scale points for
most academic-related and non-academic staff. However,
the University remains firmly of the view that the
majority of those arrangements, at least as regards
academic staff, are an inadequate substitute for
satisfactory levels of general salary increase when
applied to a university in which virtually all staff are
of the highest quality.

18. A further consequence of the relative
decline in
university salaries is that other non-salary benefits,
such as research facilities, staff development
opportunities, childcare facilities, and opportunities
for flexible working for those with family commitments
are becoming increasingly important in attracting and
retaining high-calibre staff, though these facilities
also require appropriate funding.

19. The dual support shift has reduced the
funding available for research support staff while the
number of short-term contract research staff employed by
the University has increased to 2,100 as the University
succeeds in attracting grants for specific fixed-term
research projects. The particular needs of this large
number of highly qualified staff are being addressed by
the University, through its contribution to the
development of the CVCP Concordat, but also through the
adoption of a local Oxford Code of Practice for the
employment and career management of contract research
staff, and through the introduction of a new career
support scheme for key long-serving research staff. That
work is given high priority by the University's Staff
Committee and the committee is also pursuing the
development of more integrated staffing structures,
primarily through its membership of the national HERA
initiative as well as through its own evaluation of the
Hay job classification system.

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of the

(2) Staff training, development, and appraisal

20. The University has continued its
development of
support for contract research staff, building on its
existing workshop on career review and planning with a
scheme offering all contract research staff who wish for
them free one-to-one careers advice interviews and
subsequent access to information on relevant career
opportunities. The general staff development programme
also includes sessions specifically for contract research
staff. The University has conducted a review of its staff
development provision in support of teaching and academic
excellence, and has developed a pilot Postgraduate
Certificate in University Teaching and Academic Practice,
building on its existing provision. Appraisal is in
operation for all staff groups and in some departments a
more pro-active and focused scheme is being piloted in

21. The University is continuing to review
the duties of
academic staff (focusing particularly on the joint
responsibilities the majority of such staff have to the
University and the colleges) with a view to creating
flexible structures within which the various
responsibilities of individual academic staff can be
balanced and the overall requirements of teaching,
research, and administration can be efficiently
discharged. The report of the Commission of Inquiry made
specific proposals on the matter developing discussions
which had already taken place, and these proposals are
now being considered.

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(1) General

22. The report of the Working Party on
University Sites
has been adopted as part of the University's strategic
policy. This report identified the need for more space in
almost all subject areas to allow for the modernisation
of existing facilities, the provision of faculty centres
in the arts and humanities, and the expansion of
research, especially in the sciences and in medicine.
Lack of suitable space is seen in all faculty board plans
as the main limitation on their development. The report
together with the faculty board plans and the
recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry are to form
the basis of a revised estate strategy plan, the
preparation of which has been deferred so as to take
account of the further direction on this to be issued by

23. The acquisition of the Radcliffe
Infirmary site
remains a key long-term objective of the University as
this is the only site of significance likely to become
available to provide space for the expansion of research
in the non- medical sciences. A new initiative is under
way to move the NHS hospital trust and the associated
university clinical departments to Headington in about
2002. Meanwhile, the University will seek to acquire
other sites, particularly in West Oxford, for the arts,
humanities, and academic support.

(2) Medical School

24. While the University supports the
proposed move of
the Radcliffe Infirmary NHS Hospital Trust to Headington,
its position remains that, as the move is part of an
NHS-led reorganisation, the University should not have to
contribute any of the capital or find additional
operating costs. The university departments occupy about
10 per cent of the total floor area of the Radcliffe
Infirmary and the costs associated with their move are
still seen as the major obstacle in putting together a
successful financial package to fund the project.
However, funding for a much smaller project to move some
450 sq.m. of laboratories of the Department of Psychiatry
from the now closed Littlemore Hospital has been agreed
and a new building at the Warneford Hospital is to be
completed this year.

25. The move of the University Division of
Public Health
and Primary Care to the Institute of Health Sciences is
now complete and the first phase of the build-up of the
institute is complete. Another building on the site is
being released to house more outside-funded groups that
want to be part of the institute. A new building on the
site has been constructed to accommodate the University
Department of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education.
Construction of the 9,900 sq.m. Wellcome Trust Centre for
Human Genetics is due to be completed in May 1999 while
the Centre for the Functional Magnetic Imaging of the
Brain on the John Radcliffe site was brought into use in
April 1998.

(3) Sciences

26. 2,400 sq.m. of additional laboratories
for Pathology
were completed in 1997 and a further £5.5m project
to rationalise support services and provide more
laboratory space for the department is to start later
this year. Completion of the 3,000 sq.m. extension to the
Department of Zoology for the Wellcome Trust Centre for
the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases has been delayed
from early 1998 to the middle of the year. Extensions in
Physics and Human Anatomy are nearing completion.

27. The condition of some
laboratories remains a concern and the University
welcomes the HEFCE initiative in this area, though the
bidding and award system for this initiative does not
encourage cost-effectiveness and long-term planning. A
study by outside consultants into the refurbishment and
upgrading of Chemistry has concluded that additional
space is urgently needed to maintain adequate safety
standards and that the Organic Chemistry building could
not be upgraded cost-effectively. The University is
considering the recommendation to construct 17,000 sq.m.
of new office and laboratory space for research and to
convert or rebuild the Organic Chemistry building as a
central teaching facility.

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(4) Arts and humanities

28. Construction of the 3,500 sq.m.
first phase of the St Cross site development is under way
and should be complete in April 1999. This will house the
Economics Sub-faculty. Funding has yet to be identified
for the remainder of the development which would bring
together the Social Studies Faculty onto one site.

29. The site of the proposed
Classics Centre has been identified as being in and
behind the houses at 65--7 St Giles'. The centre is part
of the Ashmolean Humanities Project for which funding is
now being sought.

30. The University has purchased
some 4½ acres of land near Oxford Railway Station
for the construction of a new building to house the
Business School, now occupying leased space on a
short-term basis. Construction of the 10,000 sq.m.
building is to start at the end of 1998.

(5) Libraries and museums

31. Construction work on the Sackler
Library is to start in July 1998 and preliminary works
and archaeological investigations are in progress. The
project will bring together five humanities libraries and
rehouse the Griffith Institute. An application for
National Lottery funding for the construction of a new
gallery for the Ashmolean Museum as part of the project
has been successful. The project should be completed in
mid-2000 and is the first phase of the Ashmolean
Humanities Project. The second phase is to comprise,
besides the Classics Centre, centres for Islamic and
Byzantine Studies and additional gallery and teaching
space for the Ashmolean Museum.

32. Support from the National
Lottery Heritage Fund has also been given for a 31.8
sq.m. extension to the Museum of History of Science, due
to start in 1998. Advantage is to be taken of the closure
of Duke Humfrey's Library (Old Bodleian Library) for
major repairs to improve the environmental conditions and
facilities for readers.

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33. The primary objective within the
planning horizon is to achieve optimum integration and
co-ordination of the University's 100 or so libraries in
order to ensure:

(a) the distribution of resources within the
library service to meet users' needs most effectively;

(b) the improvement of the responsiveness of
the University's libraries to the needs of their users in
the University;

(c) the maintenance and development of, and
provision of access to, Oxford's collections as an
international research resource;

(d) the effective provision of
university-wide services such as library automation and
electronic media, preservation, and library staff

(e) the fostering of flexibility in

34. Over the period up to 2000 the
new Director of University Library Services and Bodley's
Librarian is planning the long-term integration of the
University's libraries in support of the above
objectives. Structural and budgetary reorganisation has
already begun in areas for which the Director currently
has overall responsibility: library automation, staff
development, and preservation. A number of appointments
and secondments have been made to a team supporting the
Director in his strategic planning and co-ordinating

35. There are major capital library
projects taking place over the next five years that will
provide open access to an increased amount of library
material in close working proximity to relevant faculty
centres. There will be new libraries for Economics,
American Studies, the Said Business School, and, largest
of all, the new Sackler Library, which will combine the
holdings of the Ashmolean Library with collections of
related material at present housed separately.

36. There is, however, a tension
between, on the one hand, the demand for increasing
accessibility of material on central university sites,
and, on the other, the need to out-house an increasing
proportion of material in the Book Repository because of
the inexorable growth of the University's collections and
the acute shortage of space in central Oxford for
open-shelf access to library materials. In the large
central research libraries alone, growth imposes a
requirement of at least 4,500 metres of new shelving each
year. By the end of the period under review the
University will have exhausted the planning allocation at
its present repository site at Nuneham Courtenay. For the
foreseeable future the provision of a new repository
module every three years is a necessity; and it will be
an important objective to secure space for future

37. A major programme of essential repair and
refurbishment in the Old Bodleian Library will begin in
September 1998 with work on the oldest part of the
building, Duke Humfrey's Library. This first stage of the
programme will last for up to a year. The necessary moves
and alternative provision have been planned, but the work
will inevitably entail inconvenience for readers.
Subsequent stages will include refurbishment of other
main reading rooms in the Old Bodleian, including
enhanced provision of data points and restoration of
external stonework.

38. The recent report issued by the University's Working
Party on Sites holds major implications (and
opportunities) for libraries, especially if physical
restructuring or relocation can be used to assist the
development of the more integrated provision being
planned. A space audit of the Bodleian is being planned
as part of this process and attention will be given to
the University's policy on long-term retention and
storage of its library materials in the light of the
legal deposit privilege.

39. The Oxford Libraries Information Service (OLIS), the
growing electronic guide to the University's collections,
now contains records for 3.5m titles and incorporates the
whole of the Bodleian 1920--85 catalogue. Externally
funded retrospective catalogue conversion projects in the
Taylorian and Ashmolean Libraries will continue. The
Bodleian pre-1920 catalogue (1.2m titles) will be
integrated with OLIS in the course of the coming year.
Specifications are being prepared to allow development
and implementation of an on-line stack request system for
items on OLIS. Several initiatives to produce
machine-readable catalogues for manuscript collections
will be consolidated and accelerated as national and
international standards for this type of material become
more widely accepted.

40. OLIS will also be developed to provide dynamic links
to full-text databases such as the Oxford Text Archive,
to electronic publications and to digitised images. It is
intended to combine all Oxford's electronic library
services (electronic journals and books, bibliographic
and other databases, text archives and image databanks)
to provide a coherent and configurable common interface
to the user and to achieve where possible a high degree
of functional integration between services. The existing
programme of digitisation of rare and fragile library
materials will be continued and extended to include
important and unique grey literature and printed
ephemera, and a digitisation- on-demand service is
envisaged for some material.

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(1) Information strategy

41. The University is already implementing
a number of
the recommendations of its Working Party on Information
Strategy, especially as they relate to the organisation
of the library sector. Also the Information Technology
Committee has embodied a number of the principles of
information strategy into its IT strategy and oversees
the implementation of this by all sectors of the
University. The further development and review of a
formal institutional information strategy will also be
addressed in the context of the consideration being given
to the recommendations of the recent report of the
Commission of Inquiry.

(2) IT strategy

42. The University's IT strategy document
continues to be
made widely available both in hard copy and on-line at
. In view of the
major impact of the implementation of recommendations
proposed by the 1996--7 review of the University's
computing services (OUCS) and the general progress taking
place in regard to the use of IT across a wide range of
university activities, this strategy will be kept under
review. The IT Committee, together with its various
related groups, continues to consider technical,
academic, administrative, and policy issues as they
relate to IT and maintains a dialogue on such issues with
departments, faculties, and colleges. The IT Committee's
representation has been strengthened recently by the
addition of an external member from the University of

43. The key elements of the University's IT strategy
continue to be the following:

(a) employment and further development of
distributed computing, based upon the client-server

(b) the gradual extension of the network into
student accommodation, and the automatic inclusion of
networking infrastructure in all new building

(c) the gradual extension of access to
networked personal computer workstations to all staff and
students; (d) the ongoing development of IT
skills among the whole university community, and the
provision of a hierarchy of support services for IT use.

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(3) IT infrastructure

44. The University Network is a vital piece
infrastructure, on which much of the IT strategy rests.
During the next three years the University expects to
extend the backbone of this network further, particularly
to enable connection of a significant proportion of
outlying college student accommodation, with priority
being given to graduate student accommodation. To this
end, it has negotiated the sharing of trenches with the
Oxford Cable Company, in order to deploy its own fibre
spines wherever possible, for the flexibility and economy
this offers. In other situations, it will employ a
variety of other technologies, including dial-up through
the switched voice network, ISDN, radio LANs and other
technologies as they emerge, according to the specific
needs and economics in each case. The University also
places importance on the development of an Oxford
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), and has already agreed
with Oxford Brookes University on the elements of this
initiative, held discussions with a wide range of local
entities, and made a start. The University also plans, in
the next year or so, either through these MAN
developments, or through some other means, to increase
the capacity of its connection to JANET, as well as to
provide a multi-service capability. In addition, it
expects to upgrade the capacity of its backbone network
in the next few years.

(4) Academic IT

45. During 1996--7 the University undertook
a review of
OUCS, its computing services department, which reaffirmed
the distributed computing strategy, and commended OUCS on
its effective utilisation of resources in supporting the
use of IT throughout the University. As a result of the
review, the University will alter its structures for
managing OUCS, consolidating responsibility for equipment
and staffing funding as well as for general strategy all
within the IT Committee. It will also establish special
groups to oversee the training and humanities support
activities of OUCS, to ensure that they continue
accurately to reflect academic priorities.

46. The University has also placed great importance on
ensuring that adequate support is available to all users
of IT, and expects to deploy additional staff on a local
basis as resources permit. In addition, it also plans to
ensure that the balance between central and local support
services is kept under review, undertaking some
redeployment where this is considered appropriate, and to
put mechanisms into place which ensure a smooth interface
between local, `first-line' support and central back-up

47. The University recognises the importance of the
further development of networked electronic information
resources. Over the next few years, in line with the IT
strategy, it plans to undertake a number of developments,
including the following:

(a) the launch of further capabilities and
wider utilisation of its hierarchical file store;

(b) the continued digitisation of rare,
delicate, and widely sought documents to improve access
and preservation;

(c) development and implementation of
policies and procedures for the preservation and
archiving of important information resources, including
the creation of metadata;

(d) the investigation and design of systems
to facilitate the implementation of a `hybrid library',
combining access to electronic and physical resources in
a relatively seamless fashion;

(e) promotion and development of increased
use of electronic resources in teaching and learning, as
well as improved support for such initiatives.

Several of these developments will be undertaken in
collaboration with other institutions.

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(5) Administrative IT

48. Considerable resources continue to be
devoted to the
programme to replace `legacy' corporate systems. Effort
is concentrated on the remaining areas of
payroll/personnel and student records. The University's
new payroll came into operation on schedule in May

49. Staff in central administration continue to work
closely with colleagues throughout the University and
colleges to make better administrative IT services
available as widely as possible.

50. For some years a major focus of the administrative
team has been the enormous task of replacing fundamental
operational systems. These are vitally important for the
effective running of the institution. A number of the
systems replaced had been introduced originally in the
1970s and none of them was capable of exploiting recent
technological advances. It was therefore essential to
undertake fundamental changes before addressing in an
effective manner the University's management information

51. There has been growing awareness that Oxford
much better management information for many purposes,
including planning and resource allocation. This is
clearly recognised in the report of the Commission of
Inquiry, which includes a recommendation for `a
wide-ranging review of all aspects of Oxford's
requirements for management information'. As the
prolonged exercise to replace legacy systems comes to an
end the opportunity will arise to concentrate activity on
improving management information systems.

52. The major issue of `Year-2000 compliance' has been
addressed over the last year, and will continue to make
demands on resources for some time to come. In this
context the University has been fortunate in the timing
of the introduction of replacement technology. On the
software side it will not be necessary to check and
modify legacy systems as they will all have been replaced
relatively recently by 1 January 2000. Similarly, the
current exercise to replace all PCs in central
administration obviates the need to check and modify or
replace ageing hardware.

53. A project is under way to ensure Year-2000
throughout the University and we expect the task to be
completed well before the end of 1999.

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(6) Security

54. Since the network has assumed such
proportions and
such a critical role in the life of the University, the
University takes a very serious view of related security
and privacy issues. It has taken a number of initiatives,
both structural and technical, including the very
effective OxCERT team which maintains vigilance in
dealing with incidents, and its IT Security and Privacy
Policy Group to advise on policies and procedures. Over
the next few years it plans to bring secure network tools
such as Kerberos progressively into play, and already has
a pilot project in operation, and similar facilities
implemented in its hierarchical file store.

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55. The University's financial strategy is
based on the
following broad strategic objectives:

(a) to maintain equilibrium between all
sources of income and overall expenditure, taking one
year with another;

(b) to maintain an adequate level of
reserves, held in realisable assets, to mitigate
short-term financial uncertainty and provide the ability
to take prompt action when necessary;

(c) to provide funds for investment in the
support of teaching and research, and to maximise the use
of existing and future financial resources in
contributing to the University's goals;

(d) to provide a secure and planned financial
base for all activities within the University, with
appropriate procedures and safeguards, and delivering
value for money.

56. A detailed commentary on these strategic objectives
and the assumptions underlying the financial forecasts
being submitted with this document is contained within
the financial forecast.

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57. The University is reviewing future
arrangements for
securing quality in the context (a) of
post-Dearing discussions, most notably in respect of
access questions, teaching and learning, and a response
to the Quality Assurance Agency's framework proposals;
and (b) of the recommendations of the internal
Commission of Inquiry.

58. Access questions are being pursued by a joint
university-college working party and are directed towards
identifying a range of measures by which more applicants
may be attracted from maintained schools to the
University's traditional three-/four-year undergraduate

59. The University is providing special
funding for a
pilot scheme, under the auspices of the Departments of
Educational Studies and Continuing Education, for the
development of enhanced courses for the training of
university teachers.

60. Quality assurance is being addressed
through the
establishment of a new joint Council-General Board
committee, with college representation, responsible for
the co-ordination of all quality assurance and standards
matters. It is envisaged that the University's monitoring
procedures will continue to be based, with some
development and modification to take account of QAA
requirements for external accountability, on the
framework set out in para. 61 below. We hope shortly to
engage in discussion with the QAA about how this may be
achieved in a way appropriate to the mission of a
research-intensive university which seeks to achieve the
highest international standards.

61. The framework, based on current
practices, is as

—Publication by faculties in course handbooks of
programme specifications and standards, monitored by the
University's central quality assurance bodies.

—A system of external faculty/department review on
an eight-year cycle. At present review committees consist
mainly of external members, including always at least one
from overseas; their terms of reference embrace all areas
of activity (i.e. teaching, research, organisation, and
finance) and relate specifically to international
standards of excellence.

—Annual reports by faculty boards to the General
Board which include inter alia reports on the
progress of recommendations of review committees,
teaching quality assessors, and external examiners.

—Annual reports of external examiners, scrutinised
by the central quality assurance bodies, which monitor
also faculty boards' responses to their recommendations.

—External advisory panels to faculties/departments
containing members of the highest eminence in the
relevant fields (such as Nobel Prizewinners, leaders of
industry, charities, the media, etc).

62. The University's discussions on the
of the Commission of Inquiry on governance may lead to
revised structures for and relationships between the
central bodies and faculties/departments. It is, however,
likely that whatever emerges in this respect, the overall
arrangements for quality assurance will remain
substantially in place.

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