Contents of this section:

[Note. An asterisk denotes a reference to a previously published or recurrent entry.]

Return to Contents Page of this issue


On Monday, 23 November, the Degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, will be conferred on Dr R.C. Levin, President of Yale University, and Dr N.L. Rudenstine, President of Harvard University (see `University Agenda' above).

The ceremony will be held at 11.30 a.m. in Convocation House, and admission will be by invitation or ticket only. Members of Congregation and other members of the University (especially those who are also members of Harvard or Yale Universities) who have not received an invitation and who wish to attend are invited to apply to the Vice-Chancellor's Secretary at the University Offices (telephone: (2)70243; e-mail: for tickets. Applications must reach her not later than Wednesday, 18 November.

Return to List of Contents of this section


On the recommendation of the Committee for Archaeology, the General Board has assigned the institute to E.M. STEINBY, MA, Fellow of All Souls College and Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire, for a period of three years from 1 October 1998.

Return to List of Contents of this section


The Prize has been awarded jointly to JOSEPHINE A. HIGGS, Brasenose College, CATHERINE M. MILLEDGE, Jesus College, and LAURA K.M.B. POOLEY, St John's College.

Return to List of Contents of this section


The Prize has been awarded to JAMES A. HALL, Merton College.

Return to List of Contents of this section


At the end of August, the University received from HEFCE a consultation paper (98/39), entitled `Widening Participation in Higher Education: Funding Proposals'. This set out the Funding Council's proposals to introduce new funding arrangements in 1999--2000 in order to encourage higher education institutions (HEIs) to widen participation in higher education. A summary of the paper is appended to this note, together with the full text of the University's formal response. Copies of the full HEFCE paper and its annexes can be found at the HEFCE Web site (


To: Heads of HEFCE-funded institutions; Heads of DENI-funded universities; Heads of FE colleges that receive HEFCE funds

Of interest to: those responsible for Planning, Finance, Recruitment, Equal Opportunities and Access

Reference: 98/39

Publication date: August 1998

Enquiries to: Nicola Dowds (tel.: 0117-931 7471, e-mail:

Executive summary


1. We plan to introduce new funding arrangements in 1999-- 2000 to encourage institutions to widen participation in higher education. This paper invites comments on our broad strategy for widening participation and our related funding proposals.

Key points

2. We propose a strategy which encourages institutions to increase the participation of underrepresented groups and to ensure that such students succeed. We will also encourage collaboration between higher education institutions (HEIs) and other education sectors, to tackle the problems of poor progression rates.

3. We recognise diversity in institutional approach to widening participation, and acknowledge that many HE institutions have strong track records in this area. We expect new funding to lead to an overall improvement in the representation and retention of specific groups in HE; and this will be achieved by recognising the costs of existing activity and by new initiatives. We would expect institutions to set improvement targets, and to monitor performance against them.

4. We propose a combination of funding approaches, through the mainstream teaching funding method, the allocation of additional student numbers, and special funding initiatives. The balance would lie more towards mainstream funding, through additional funds for disabled students and students from poor backgrounds, and the allocation of additional student numbers to widen participation.

5. We propose to encourage institutions to develop coherent strategies for the recruitment and progression of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, by relating our funding to such strategies.

6. We would like to spend up to £30 million to support both mainstream and special funding proposals in 1999--2000 but this will depend in part on the details of the additional resources which the Government has provided following the Comprehensive Spending Review. Final funding decisions will be made in December, following this consultation and the more detailed announcement of Government expenditure plans for HE in 1999--2000 and beyond, to be made in the autumn.

Action required

7. Issues for consultation are highlighted throughout the text and summarised in paragraph 53. Please send any comments on these proposals to Nicola Dowds by Monday, 2 November 1998.


Summary of responses sought

53. We invite comments and discussion on our strategic objectives to widen participation in HE, and the funding proposals to deliver these objectives. In particular, we would like comment on:

(a) The proposed principles and funding objectives underpinning our approach to widening participation in higher education.

(b) The proposal to require institutions to provide performance targets and measures against which to monitor improvements in widening participation.

(c) The proposal to introduce student-related additional payments in the teaching funding method for students from poor backgrounds and for students with disabilities.

(d) The use of either social class or geodemographic data to measure students from poor backgrounds for funding purposes, as discussed in detail in Annex A. [Not reproduced.]

(e) The proposal to continue to give priority to widening participation and diploma-level provision in the allocation of additional student numbers.

(f) The purpose and nature of special funding and suggestions for priorities for future special funding programmes.

(g) Our funding proposals for widening participation, and in particular the balance between mainstream and special funding.

(h) The proposal to link institutions' participation strategies to funding.

(i) The nature of participation strategies and the proposed guidance in Annex B. [Not reproduced.]

(j) The proposals for monitoring the implementation of participation strategies, as outlined in Annex B. [Not reproduced.]

(k) The proposed timetable for linking participation strategies to funding.


General points

1. The University welcomes the broad thrust of the aims and objectives expressed in the consultation paper. It is committed to ensuring that all suitably qualified candidates with the ability and potential to benefit from an Oxford undergraduate education are encouraged to apply for admission to the University, and that they have the necessary information to exercise an informed choice. The University has devoted considerable effort to widening participation in recent years; the Vice-Chancellor of the University is currently chairing a Working Party on Access, which is analysing those areas in which the University may currently be failing to achieve these objectives, and we will be proposing practical measures to overcome obstacles to wider access. Many of the measures likely to be proposed by the working party reflect the ideas behind the special funding initiatives discussed in paras. 36--9 of the consultation paper, and we particularly welcome these. However, the University wishes to emphasise that a necessary precondition of widening participation is the improvement of academic standards in many secondary schools: unless able young people have access to a good secondary education, it is unlikely that they will be able to demonstrate the potential to benefit from a university course.

2. We particularly welcome the implicit acknowledgement in para. 13 of the consultation paper that tackling access issues is not straightforward, and that simplistic solutions should be avoided. Prospective students make their own choices as to the Universities to which they will apply, and recognition that `the main problem is one of demand' (para. 13 (a)) is therefore crucial. The focus of any funding initiative should, we believe, therefore be on practical measures which can improve the awareness of underrepresented groups of the opportunities available at a particular HEI, develop contacts with their schools or colleges, break down stereotypical images of particular institutions, and enable students themselves to gain a better understanding of what an institution can offer. It is these objectives which lie behind many of the initiatives Oxford University has recently taken. These include the establishment of summer schools (generously funded by the Sutton Trust) to enable prospective applicants from schools which do not traditionally send students to Oxford to spend some time in one of its colleges, and the video on Oxford undergraduate education, prefaced by a personal introduction from David Blunkett, which has recently been distributed to all maintained secondary schools and sixth-form colleges.

3. In addition, we strongly support the statement in para. 13 (b) that HEFCE `must be careful not to penalise institutions for failing to be socially inclusive simply because they have particular entry requirements'. It is vital that moves to attract candidates for admission from groups currently underrepresented do not threaten existing admissions standards. The admission of underqualified candidates would inevitably cause serious problems in terms of retention. The objective should be to consider all prospective applicants on a fair and consistent basis. It is also essential that any initiatives taken recognise the diversity of mission amongst HEIs, and acknowledge that this means that admissions criteria and other factors will result in different student profiles in different HEIs. No HEI should be penalised for such differences in themselves.

Answers to specific questions

4. As regards the specific questions summarised in para. 53 of the consultation paper, we comment as follows:

(a) In broad terms the principles and objectives are acceptable, subject to the comments above, and these objectives and principles being translated into achievable and practical funding proposals.

(b) If institutions are required to provide targets and measures against which to monitor improvements in widening participation, it is essential that these are flexible and not mechanistic. Specific quotas should certainly be avoided, since they can easily become self-fulfilling. Targets should relate to issues of process rather than simply performance: for example, a commitment to organise certain initiatives to improve access, and declarations of intent to encourage more applicants from certain areas of the country or from groups currently underrepresented at Oxford, will be helpful, but no such targets should be allowed to lead to the admission of students with lower academic ability than other candidates, or with less potential to benefit from the University's courses.

(c) We do not favour the introduction of student-related additional payments in the teaching funding method for students from poor backgrounds and for students with disabilities. Adjusting mainstream funding on the basis proposed is a relatively crude approach, with no guarantee whatsoever that more students from poorer backgrounds will necessarily be admitted to a given HEI, or that disabled students will receive improved facilities. Achievement in these areas, and the additional costs of providing for disabled students, would more effectively be recognised through specific project-based funding.

(d) The use of geodemographic data is undoubtedly a useful analytical tool and may be the best currently available to measure proportions of students from poor backgrounds, but we are not convinced that it is suitable for use in a funding formula, and this reinforces our comments at (c) above.

(e) We are content with the proposal to give priority to widening participation and diploma-level provision in the allocation of additional student numbers, although we think the Funding Council should consider other equally pressing priorities, such as provision in certain subject areas.

(f) We support the proposals for special funding in paras. 36--9 of the consultation paper.

(g) We think that funding for proposals to widen participation should concentrate on special funding initiatives (see also general comments above).

( h) The development of participation strategies by individual institutions is important in improving access. Such strategies should recognise that different HEIs have different missions, academic profiles, and other characteristics. Their different regional locations, and different subject profiles, will also affect the composition of their student body, and such variations do not necessarily indicate a poor record or inadequate effort on access issues. Participation strategies based on achievable targets are to be welcomed. Nationally set prescriptive targets would seem to have less relevance to the development of genuine equality of opportunity in higher education. Targets based on numerical quotas are to be avoided.

(i) and (j) We have no comments on Annex B.

(k) It is essential that institutions are given adequate time to develop their strategies and bring forward practical proposals for improving access. 2000--1 is therefore the very earliest date at which any new funding initiatives should be implemented.

Return to List of Contents of this section


Offensive Material on the World Wide Web

Any member of the University receiving, transmitting, displaying, or storing offensive material, using University computers or networks, is breaking University Rules and is liable to discipline (see for the definitive Rule, and for general Rules about IT use).

OUCS has been requested by the IT Committee to commence sampling Web accesses, involving both the site accessed and the particular computer from which the request came. If it is found that offensive material is being accessed (without proper academic permission having been given), action will be taken against the owner of that computer.

Note that all Web accesses are, or can be, recorded.

Use of the Web Cache

All IT users are strongly urged to make use of the Oxford Web cache (see This will have the following important benefits:

—save the University money (traffic across the Atlantic through the national cache incurs no charge);

—iron out `glitches' in the system before its use becomes compulsory (currently a possibility) and many of them come to light at once;

—identify sites which require originating IP addresses for authentication (any found should be reported to, and will then be added to the list which the proxy automatically passes on direct (so that the user never needs to turn off `proxying').

Return to List of Contents of this section


Survey of off-air recording

This notice is to inform members of the University about a survey of educational recordings in which the University is obliged to participate this year, and to request co-operation in collecting the necessary information.

The University (including its constituent colleges) is covered by an Educational Recording Agency (ERA) Licence to record radio and television broadcasts and cable programmes for educational use, without infringing copyright. The University pays about £24,000 per annum for this licence.

It is a condition of the licence that institutions may be required to maintain for a specified period of time details of radio and television recordings made under the licence and to return this information to the ERA. Oxford University has been selected to take part in ERA's survey during the period 1 September 1998 to 31 August 1999 and the University is therefore asking all staff for assistance in collating the information required.

In each department and college, and some faculty offices, an individual has been nominated as the local co-ordinator for the survey. All staff are asked to give details to the most appropriate co-ordinator of all recordings of radio and television programmes which they make for educational purposes whether at home, in the University, or elsewhere. The information required is the title, date, and channel of the programme, and the location where the recording was made. As statistics have to be returned by the University at the end of every month, it is important that a co- ordinator is informed as soon as possible after a recording is made.

The identity of the local co-ordinator should be publicised in each department, college, and (where appropriate) faculty office. If it is not clear, the departmental administrator, senior tutor, or faculty office administrator should be able to identify the co- ordinator. In cases of difficulty, details of recordings can be passed instead to the University's central co-ordinator, Miss Catherine Long, at the ETRC (telephone: (2)70529, e-mail: It is, of course, necessary to pass information about recordings only to one co-ordinator; there is no need, for example, to inform both a college co-ordinator and a faculty co-ordinator but simply the one which is most convenient.

Please note that ERA are likely to visit the University at some stage during the survey period and to monitor the information returned against recordings held by the University. It is therefore important that the required information is collected carefully and that recordings are available for inspection if necessary. It is also important to note the requirement (which is general and not just for the period of the survey) that each recording should be labelled with the date and time, and with the statement that `This recording is to be used only for educational purposes'.

It is hoped that the survey will not cause too much inconvenience, and the full co-operation of members of the University would be appreciated.

Return to List of Contents of this section


The General Board's regulations in respect of sabbatical leave and dispensation from CUF lecturing obligations are set out in Ch. VII, Sect. I

(Statutes, 1997, pp. 384–6). Provisions for other leave are set out in the same section (pp. 382–3). The following guidelines describe the General Board's policy and practice in respect of applications for leave which do not fall within the category of straightforward sabbatical leave or dispensation, i.e. special leave.

Applications for leave to hold some public offices or certain research awards

(a) Applications for leave to accept an appointment in the public service of national importance are normally granted by the General Board, provided that the purpose of the leave can be shown to be compatible with the academic interests of the faculty, the faculty board lends its support to the application, and it is clear that the individual intends to return to university service after the period of leave. Leave for this purpose for heads of departments or professors can, however, be problematic, for obvious reasons.

(b) Applications to national bodies for prestigious and competitive research awards (such as British Academy Research Readerships and Senior Research Fellowships, EPSRC Senior or Advanced Fellowships and Nuffield Foundation Social Science Research Fellowships) should be made to the General Board through the faculty board. It is usual for such national bodies to specify that applications should be made through the employing institution, and in Oxford's case this involves routing the application via the faculty board to the General Board. The University will normally support such applications for prestigious awards, but it is necessary for the faculty board and the General Board to consider carefully what replacement teaching arrangements will be required if an application is successful.

Leave granted under (a) and (b) does not count against sabbatical entitlement: indeed the rules of some research awards specifically forbid this. However, as in other cases of special leave, the period of leave does not count as qualifying service for the purpose of calculating future entitlement to sabbatical leave, and sabbatical leave is not normally granted in the period immediately preceding or following periods of such leave, although some flexibility may be exercised in respect of periods of special leave not exceeding one year, especially in connection with the holding of research awards.

Return to List of Contents of this section

Applications for leave for other purposes

All other applications for leave are initially considered in terms of application for sabbatical leave, until entitlement to sabbatical leave is exhausted. In other words, if an individual applies for leave under this section for any term which he or she would be entitled to take as sabbatical leave, any leave granted for that term will be granted as sabbatical leave. Such leave may also be granted as sabbatical leave in advance of entitlement: in other words, sabbatical leave will be granted for a term which the applicant would not normally be entitled to take as sabbatical leave, and leave for the term in question will then be deemed to be taken in a later term (normally not more than six terms later). In this way the leave will count against an individual's sabbatical entitlement: taking the individual's service as a whole, the leave will not be in addition to the standard sabbatical entitlement. For sabbatical leave to be granted in advance of entitlement, an academic case must be made by the faculty board to the Appointments Committee of the General Board.

When sabbatical leave entitlement had been exhausted, an application has to be considered in whole or in part as one for special leave. In such cases, faculty boards are required, when making recommendations to the Appointments Committee of the General Board, to specify whether, and if so how, the grant of such leave would be in the academic interests of the faculty. Where there is no statement of academic interest, or this statement is not persuasive, special leave will not be granted.

Applications for special leave cover many kinds of situation. One would be an unrepeatable opportunity to pursue academic interests where the applicant is ineligible for sabbatical leave. In such a case it would be necessary for the faculty board to demonstrate the academic advantage (to the University rather than to the individual) of the individual being able to accept the opportunity, and for an explanation to be given of why such an opportunity could not be taken up at a later period when the applicant would be entitled to sabbatical leave. Another situation where special leave might be applied for would be where there was a need for fieldwork for a period exceeding one year, which could therefore not be accommodated within the sabbatical provisions. In such a case it would be expected, as usual, that as much of the leave as possible would be taken as sabbatical or sabbatical in advance of entitlement, and the faculty board would again need to demonstrate the academic advantage to the University of the application's being granted.

Very occasionally applications are made for leave to enable someone to accept an appointment in another academic institution (other than a routine visiting appointment held during sabbatical leave). In such instances, the faculty board would need to make an extremely convincing case as to desirability of the individual being offered reversionary rights to his or her university post for any application to be successful. Factors taken into account would include all relevant circumstances relating to the individual's role within the faculty and the consequences for the faculty, in terms of the refilling of the post, if leave were not to be granted and the individual were therefore to resign. On this latter point, it should be noted, of course, that if leave is granted and the individual subsequently resigns during the period of leave or at the end of it, the uncertainty about the long-term filling of the post will have been exacerbated. The longer the appointment in the other institution the less likely it is that leave will be granted; leave will not be granted save in the most exceptional circumstances to enable someone to decide whether to accept a permanent appointment elsewhere.

In each of the situations outlined above, applications are considered on their academic merits, but it is emphasised that the nature of special leave is that it is granted exceptionally rather than automatically. Advice on the likelihood of success of any application can be obtained from the Secretary of Faculties or the secretary of the Appointments Committee of the General Board.

The General Board takes the view that academic staff are specifically appointed to undertake both teaching and research, and (although the Board would support arrangements whereby teaching in excess of a contracted or reasonable stint was relieved) an extremely good case needs to be made in support of an application for special leave which would have the result of the individual's teaching being conducted mainly or wholly by someone else. This is a especially true given that the sabbatical leave scheme has been preserved intact throughout retrenchment, so providing the opportunity for individuals to concentrate on research in one term out of every seven. Willingness to forgo university stipend or the ease with which funding for a replacement appointment may be attracted will not be sufficient to guarantee in any way the success of an application for special leave.

It is emphasised that any application for leave, including any application for funding which might result in the need for leave from university duties to be granted, must be made to the General Board through the faculty board (and head of department, in departmentally organised faculties). In every case the academic advantage to the institution will be the general criterion by which applications will be considered: in every case the General Board requires details of any necessary substitute arrangements, including those relating to examining and graduate supervision.

It is recognised that some offers are made to individuals at short notice. Given the fact that all members of the academic staff have clear obligations to the University under the terms of their contracts, however, no such offer should be accepted without the explicit approval of the General Board under the procedures set out above: for this reason any prospect of such an offer, however indefinite, must be discussed (in strict confidence) with Dr Whiteley, secretary to the Appointments Committee of the General Board, at the very earliest opportunity. Delay in bringing to the attention of the University the possibility that an offer may be made will mean that if applications and substitute arrangements then have to be considered at short notice, this might compromise the chance of leave being granted.

Return to List of Contents of this section

Stipendiary arrangements

Leave granted under the above arrangements is normally without university stipend, but the precise implications for payment can vary. In some cases the leave is clearly unpaid, such as when appointments in the public service are held. In other cases, such as the holding of prestigious research awards, the University is expected to continue paying the individual, while the grant- giving body provides support for the University to employ a replacement: or the grant-giving body supplies a sum of money which is equivalent to that paid by the University under normal circumstances to the individual. Although this is technically special leave without university stipend, the University will continue to pay the stipend to the individual through the payroll mechanism, being reimbursed by the award-giving body. Special leave under any other arrangement will mean the University will cease to make payments of stipend and national insurance and superannuation contributions. In general, except where the rules of grant-giving bodies in respect of major competitive awards specify otherwise, it is expected that the normal result of the granting of an application for special leave will be the release to the University of the full salary and on-costs of the substantive university appointment, which may be available, with the agreement of the General Board, to the faculty board for the making of any necessary replacement appointment. This is particularly important given the University's practice of advertising temporary university lecturerships, for example, without cash-limited salary scales.

Return to List of Contents of this section


Intensive German courses for archaeologists

A week of intensive German courses for archaeologists, for beginners and intermediate learners, will be offered in the Institute of Archaeology in Hilary Term, week 9 (15–19 March 1999). Those wishing to attend should register with the receptionist at the institute (telephone: (2)78240), giving details of name, college, contact number, and desired course. The course tutor will be Gertrud Seidmann, Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology.

Return to List of Contents of this section


Exhibition open

Works on paper, by Peter Kalkhof

This exhibition comprises a limited selection of works on paper to show the artist's aesthetic and pictorial concerns and concepts as a painter, addressing the abstract visual phenomena of colour and space.

The choice starts with work from the early seventies and concludes with one from this year. There are also some woodcut prints, which are in black and white on Japanese paper. They show variations of geometric forms and lines in their intrinsic compositional relationships. Though his main work is in painting and installation, often on a large scale, these works are expressions of ideas in smaller size.

The exhibition will close at the end of December.

Return to List of Contents of this section


Opera performance

OPERA SEICENTO, conducted by Vassilis Vavoulis, will perform Antonio Sartorio's opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto (1676), at 8 p.m. on Thursday, 26 November, and Friday, 27 November, in the Holywell Music Room. Tickets, costing £10 (concessions £5) may be obtained from the Playhouse, Beaumont Street, or at the door.

Return to List of Contents of this section



THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, conducted by Duncan Hinnells, will perform the following at 8 p.m. on Friday, 20 November, in the Sheldonian Theatre: Brahms, Violin Concerto (with Simon Fischer, soloist); Beethoven, Egmont Overture; Schubert, Symphony no. 4. Tickets, costing £6/£3, may be obtained from the Oxford Playhouse, or at the door.

This concert is sponsored by Oxford University Press.

Return to List of Contents of this section