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Supplement (1) to Oxford University Gazette No. 4765. Wednesday, 22 March 2006.
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Oxford University Gazette, 22 March 2006

Oration by the Senior Proctor

The following Oration was delivered in Congregation on Wednesday, 15 March, by A. GRAFEN, MA, M.PHIL., D.PHIL., Fellow of St John's College, on demitting office as Senior Proctor.

SENIOR PROCTOR: Insignissime Vice-Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui?

VICE-CHANCELLOR: Licet.

SENIOR PROCTOR: The Senior Proctor in 1958, also a Zoologist and also a fellow of St John's, made light of his term of office, ending his oration as follows: 'Let me finally, Mr Vice-Chancellor, excuse myself for the meandering and inconsequential nature of my words. This is a happy sign. It is only watchdogs that have nothing to bark at that bark out of sheer exuberance.' Sheer exuberance will account for some but not all of my barking today, as I undertake my statutory duty to provide a brief account of the year. The Vice-Chancellor makes an annual oration each October, allowing the Senior Proctor on this occasion to give an eclectic account from a Proctorial point of view.

But first I want to discuss the Assessorial point of view. I will explain later that the Junior Proctor is increasingly overburdened. The University could consider revaluing the Assessor's role to enable him or her to participate more fully in the work of the Proctors' Office and to share the workload more equitably. This is not the case now, and the Assessor, unlike the Junior Proctor, will follow forty years' convention and remain seated during my Oration.

A natural starting point for any activity in this University is to consult precedent, and writing an oration is no exception. I have consulted dozens of precedents, but in looking back to the first half of the twentieth century, my lack of Latin proved an obstacle. Dr Donald Russell, Emeritus Fellow of St John's, very kindly assisted me in understanding the orations of Senior Proctors Costin and Slade of St John's, from 1936 and 1947, respectively. Donald knew Costin and Slade, and has made shrewd guesses at the identity of their ghostwriters. I have also consulted W.A. Pantin's delightful Oxford Lives in Oxford Archives. 1

One perspective offered by these orations is on the nature of the job of Proctor. How to explain the pleasures? At my admissions lunch last year, the President of my college explained that I had taken preparation for the Proctorship in his view rather too far, by marrying a former Proctor. I now agree with him, only so far as that particular purpose is concerned, as I found the experience just as bewildering as my colleagues the Junior Proctor and Assessor. The pleasures are best described by Martin Ceadel in 1998, who explained that Proctors take on 'so many unfamiliar roles such as barrister, detective, security guard, publisher, property developer, non-executive director, mediator, counsellor, returning officer and administrator', allowing us to sample 'Fantasies of careers we never had'. I would add 'magistrate', 'representative of a constituency', 'gourmand' and even 'grandee' to the list, and certainly encourage members of Congregation to allow their names to go forward when their college's turn comes round.

A second and more serious perspective concerns the relationship between the University and the colleges. In 1936, W.C. Costin could invite his audience to 'recall that the University consists of loosely federated Colleges'. In 1949, after large changes as part of the war effort, D.L. Page reported that 'we observe a large University Structure in the making, more or less independent of the Colleges', and that 'It will be a task of the utmost difficulty, to harmonize the best ultimate interests of the Colleges with those of the large and expensive extra-Collegiate Departments and enterprises'. It was only as Lord Bullock entered office in 1969 that the job of Vice-Chancellor became full-time.

But it is interesting to look further back than 1936. From the beginning of the University in the twelfth century, and until the late thirteenth century, there were no colleges; in 1400, the colleges represented only a minority of the members of the University. The University was a corporation of Masters of Arts, run by Congregation and its predecessors. 'Regent Masters', so called because they ruled in the lecture rooms they privately hired, admitted the students. Halls of residence grew up, each headed by a Principal who was a member of the University. What distinguished colleges, initially foundations without students, was that their fellowships were permanent positions. This permanence allowed college fellows to play a more prominent part than non-collegiate masters, both in scholarship and in administering the University. But colleges as institutions only slowly gained influence in running the University, culminating in the Laudian statutes of the 1630s that established the heads of the colleges as the effective rulers of the University. They also gave the power to elect Proctors to the colleges, which had in earlier times rested with Congregation. The current influence of Congregation began in only 1854 and grew until it was consolidated as the supreme body in 1922.

How did the colleges become dominant? Not, according to Pantin, through some internal dynamic. Rather, the Crown and later government wished to control the University more closely. The colleges were large and coherent bodies that could be strongly influenced through the appointment of their heads. Giving power to college heads gave power to older establishment figures, rather than to the younger and more radical Masters of Arts who did most of the teaching. For example, Henry VIII asked the University in 1530 for its opinion on the matter of his divorce. The college Heads and Doctors were very ready to make a politic reply; whereas the Masters of Arts greatly angered the king by insisting that the matter could not be carried without their consent. It appears that the Congregation of Masters of Arts lost influence in the University through that royal snub. I do not recall this history being recounted at the Congregation debate in 1985 on the honorary degree proposed for the Prime Minister of the day, but I don't suppose it would have impressed the unruly Masters of Arts.

The dominance of the colleges in the Laudian statutes was therefore an alternative to the power of the more democratic Congregation, and helped enforce state control over a vital national institution with a tendency to unruliness.

What of Congregation, the so-called 'Parliament of Dons', and of the Proctors, who claim to represent it? The Proctors are regarded as representatives of Congregation, of the collectivity of teaching and researching senior members, even though they are elected by colleges. But nowadays, Congregation itself consists of two-thirds contract research staff, most without college affiliation. Only one-third are traditional college fellows. The Proctors were first mentioned in 1248. They represented the dominance within the University of the then junior faculty, the Faculty of Arts, over the then senior Faculties of Theology, Law and Medicine. In representing MAs, therefore, the Proctors were forces of youth and enthusiasm against the generally older members of the other faculties. They were in a sense trade union representatives of the 'Regent Masters', who did the bulk of the teaching in the University. Nowadays, however, Proctors are representatives of a more powerful, and it must sadly be admitted less youthful, force. Members of Congregation who are members of a college can vote for a Proctor and Assessor, which covers most of those who teach; but so far as research is concerned, a very great deal is done by those who do not elect Proctors.

History is told by amateurs only for lessons. The University is adapting to changes in society and sources of funding, as it has done over the eight centuries of its existence. Colleges must not assume their privileges are secure: their position within the structure of the University will depend on how they structure themselves and the relationships they achieve with the other elements. The lesson for Congregation is that it must exercise its democratic authority in a responsible way. And the structure of democratic accountability itself is not written in stone, and may at some point need revising to reflect the new reality of the University.

A force towards centralising is that the state wishes to control its universities, and a counterforce is that a university tightly controlled by respectable establishment figures is not a place in which learning and scholarship thrive. But it would be wrong to focus only on these two. The sheer financial scale of the University today is important. A small organisation, perhaps a small college, might just get away with saying to itself 'We govern ourselves as we like, and if we make a mess of it, at least it is our own mess'. But for the University today, such an attitude would be irresponsible, in accounting terms to an imprisonable extent; and irresponsible also to all who care about Oxford as a place of learning and research, because if we suddenly ended up a hundred million pounds in the red, there would be very serious consequences for the University's survival. With many more Universities in the country and in the world, we cannot afford to relapse into the intellectual torpor of the eighteenth century; and should not rely on government commissions to sort us out. So we also need large-scale effective planning, a point admittedly made in previous orations, at least in 1958 and 1997.

Let me begin my report of the year's events with some purely Proctorial matters. The Proctors had charge of the Common Seal of the University until the 2002 statutory revisions, but when a man came to take it away in 2002, he found it was securely attached to a very heavy safe, which was in turn very solidly attached to the floor of the Proctors' Office. In February of this year, two men arrived with the right tools, and de facto and de iure came together again for the Common Seal. Another Proctorial trivium is that from 6 December 2005 until today, the leader of the Opposition has been a member of the Junior Proctor's college; and the Prime Minister has been a member of the Senior Proctor's college: surely an unprecedented coincidence.

The rest of my review will be structured around the six main headings of the duties of the Proctors and Assessor. Three exclusively Proctorial aspects are discipline of student members, conduct of examinations and the handling of complaints about University matters. There is an Assessorial emphasis on student welfare. The Proctors and Assessor take part in the ceremonial life of the University. Finally, all three of us are members of Council and all its major committees, and are obliged by Statute IX to 'take an active part in the business of the University'.

I turn first to discipline, enlivened by my memory of an event early in our Proctorial year in which the Junior Proctor and I were rehearsing in the Sheldonian Theatre for our first degree ceremony. He was reading the charges that are made to the candidates, enjoining them to be good. There turned out to be a typing mistake on his card, so that instead of instructing the imaginary candidates to obey the statutes of the University, he was solemnly instructing them, in Latin of course, to obey the statues of the University. How many members of the University have been charged from that faulty cue card, I wonder, and taken it at its word?

I want to make some brief points about discipline. We have participated in a modest, streamlining revision of the disciplinary statute of the University, and hope that it will be in place for the next academic year—my predecessor I am afraid had a similar hope. The importance of making relevant adjustments under disabilities legislation to disciplinary procedures has been a theme of the year, and we are grateful to Professor Tony Bailey for his advice on the importance of the 'yellow card' function of those procedures. Behaviour outside Schools continues to be a serious nuisance to those living in Merton Street and, when Merton Street is effectively policed, in neighbouring areas. This is a new problem in the history of the University: in 1958, Dr Holmes referred to the 'unique problem of the 5th of November'. A new disciplinary problem arises from 'gossip Web sites', on which students anonymously broadcast statements about named students. The temptation to defamation is too strong for some, but I can report quiet Proctorial satisfaction with the results of some online detective work.

The conduct of examinations is the second exclusively Proctorial line of business, of which the Junior Proctor carries the main burden. The welcome change of emphasis away from a single bout of finals examinations spreads out this work through all three terms, but the increase in student numbers ensures that the peaks do not fall as the valleys are raised. This burden cannot continue, as it threatens to impair the Junior Proctor's ability to participate fully in other Proctorial duties. The Junior Proctor has written guidance for Examiners and college doctors, which we hope will reduce the volume, and increase the value, of the medical evidence presented to Examiners.

The Senior Proctor deals mainly with research degrees. D.Phil. complaints are down from the 2 per cent or 4 per cent of D.Phil. examinations noted by my predecessors, to about 0.25 per cent per year, which is roughly 1 per cent in comparison. The systems of Transfer of Status and Confirmation of Status reduce the incidence of complaints by providing timelier indications of difficulty, and should be enthusiastically embraced by all parts of the University. The reduction in numbers is just as well: one such complaint occupied all my spare time in the office for over two months.

The Assessor, sitting in a separate office two doors down, does not have responsibility for Examinations, but instead has himself to sit a kind of practical examination in the most difficult area of internal institutional politics. The poisoned chalice of that office is chairing the Car Parking Working Group. My colleague has, by all accounts, passed that examination magna cum laude, in a year when substantial changes have been discussed—and agreed!

Now I turn to the ombudsman role of the Proctors. We can call for persons and papers, and our recommendations for remedy are close to binding. Most complaints relate to examinations, and those I have already discussed. Of the remainder, none of those that have been dealt with by the Proctors have been very serious in the scheme of things, however inconvenient and frustrating to the complainant. My predecessor in 1936 noted that the broadsheets were very interested in events at Oxford, and regretted that undergraduates were so ready to feed the 'Harpies', as he referred to the journalists. In 2006, I take this opportunity to regret that the Harpies are also fed by senior members. The link to the ombudsman role is that members of the University have internal statutory avenues open to them if they have serious concerns about the conduct of University business. The open and democratic nature of the government of Oxford University is unique, and places a special responsibility on its members to employ the procedures available to them rather than harm the University's cause through the public press.

I now make a brief report on the Assessor's work on welfare. Oxford places increased emphasis on postgraduate study, research and foreign recruitment. The collegiate University does its level best to cope with these new challenges; the extension of the opening hours of the Muslim prayer room in the Islamic Studies Centre is a small but significant case in point. However, we only have to mention the funding crises confronted by the University Club and the Counselling Service this year to see that in future more than relatively modest adjustments to the existing structure might be needed. On a more personal note, the Assessor also wishes to volunteer the observation that, to the best of his knowledge, he was the only non- native speaker of English (and one of the very few non-British people) in a senior administrative post in the collegiate University, despite the very considerable importance of non-native speakers to the University as students, contract researchers and permanent support and academic staff.

The ceremonial duties of the Proctors and Assessor are among the most enjoyable. On our first full day in office, we attended the dinner held in honour of the President of Italy, Signor Ciampi, in Christ Church Hall after participating in awarding him a Degree by Diploma. It was a glittering occasion. 'This,' I thought to myself, 'is the life. I have at last arrived.' It immediately struck me that in a year's time, which has now somehow and very suddenly become tomorrow, it would be some future Senior Proctor who was invited to all the glittering events. I had arrived, to be sure, but my departure was already scheduled. At that dinner, the Junior Proctor was sitting opposite some Italian policemen, whose jackets bulged appropriately. They were enchanted to be in the Hall where Harry Potter was filmed, and took photographs of each other with their mobile phones, sending them home to their mothers. The sublime was thus rendered even more delightful by the ridiculous.

Degree ceremonies are most enjoyable, even if they do occur mainly on Saturdays, chiefly through the simple presence of so many happy people in a beautiful building. And it is also right to recall the delightful ceremony only two days ago, in the Sheldonian Theatre, at which Dr James Martin was presented with the Sheldon Medal. Dr Martin has donated a hundred million dollars to the University for the Twenty-first Century School, by any standards a spectacularly generous gift with a focused and humane purpose.

My link between ceremonies and the political role of the Proctors and Assessor comes from May Morning 2005 on Magdalen Tower. It was a very beautiful morning, and I enjoyed a spectacular sunrise and superb visibility, in the company of two engineers. The occasion is one of great privilege, as there are only thirty persons allowed on the tower, once the choir and clerics have been accounted for; and there is nowhere on Earth you would rather be. The music was marvellous. As the bells ring, the whole tower sways visibly and sensibly beneath you. My engineering companions explained that the swaying was necessary for the structural stability of the tower. The Vice-Chancellor and the Junior Proctor went on to explain to me the important distinction between rigidity and strength.

The Proctors' and Assessor's role in the corridors of power is partly as a representative of the 'don in the quad' or of Congregation. I explored that ambiguity earlier, but it did not detract from the seriousness with which we took our representative role. The Proctors and the Assessor attend Council and all the committees of Council, and may indeed attend by right a meeting of any body set up by or under the authority of the statutes, and call for any of their papers. We meet the Vice-Chancellor once a week during term, and suggest the agenda for those meetings. We find ourselves, therefore, close to the centre of events in the centre while representing the wide constituency of members of Congregation.

It would not be right to use this oration to make polemical points that would more appropriately belong in some past or future Congregation debate. There are two areas I will discuss. First, I offer reflections on how the system of representation by the Proctors and Assessor has operated through the minor turbulence of the year.

Our regular meetings with Mr Vice-Chancellor were dominated for our first term, beginning indeed only six days after we took office, by the issues that culminated in the 17 May Congregation debate. We represented as well as we could what we felt Congregation's position was on the issue of the 'letters from Heads of Division', and a number of those meetings remain etched in my memory. We also conveyed our sense that Congregation was very supportive of the moves towards change in general. Thus we did provide a direct line of communication on the most difficult issues, and this I take to be a central function of the offices from which we demit today.

Congregation overturned one small point in the Academic Strategy Green Paper on 17 May, and seemed to do this to make a rather different point or points; but there has been no further appetite in Congregation for confrontations of that kind.

Congregation's behaviour has been the subject of comment for centuries. Pantin records that 'In the sixteenth century it was felt by some that a Congregation or Convocation might be an unwieldy, unruly, and irresponsible body'. He goes on to say that those who 'nowadays feel themselves frustrated by the democratic rule of Congregation may be consoled by the thought they have behind them a series of formidable if not wholly amiable ancestors, beginning with Cardinal Wolsey, and leading through Henry VIII, Cardinal Pole, the Earl of Leicester and Archbishop Laud.' I claim a link with the unamiable Laud, who was Fellow of St John's and Senior Proctor in 1602, and went on to be executed in 1645. Which reminds me that Edmund Campion of St John's became Proctor in 1568, and was executed in 1581. I shall clearly have to watch my step. Returning to Congregation, the Senior Proctor declared of it in 1935: 'At present its permanent acquiescence is interrupted only by very occasional spasms of rejection.' And in 1988, Peter Neumann noted 'This University is a damnably democratic institution'.

The second theme is to explain to Congregation how our views of the running of the University have been affected, in broad terms, by seeing the University administration at close quarters.

One of my predecessors remarked that 'some think administration is too much in the hands of officials' but went on to advise that 'there is no use in looking back to a Golden Age in which it was not so'. I suggest there is even less point exactly seventy years later. I admit that before taking office last year, I shared in an understandable and widespread sense of discontent with Wellington Square, which I suspect is homologous to that noticed by Costin in 1936. But I have to report, disappointingly perhaps to some, that all sense of paranoia has been dispelled by seeing Wellington Square at work. There are inefficiencies, as in all sizeable organisations, but an enormous amount of hard work is done there on our behalf by people who get too little thanks from the academics they serve. Many of the deficiencies result from inadequate resourcing that increases the working burdens on individuals often intolerably. I take this opportunity to thank the Registrar and all his staff on behalf of Congregation, and to say farewell to David Holmes as he himself demits office in a few weeks' time. The Registrar-elect, Julie Maxton, deserves a special welcome, as the first woman to take up the post. I look forward to a day when the Vice-Chancellorship and Chancellorship have also been occupied by women.

Second, I want to reiterate the Proctorial view submitted to the Governance Working Party, on the suggestion of a Board of Scrutiny. One can view University committees from Council downwards, as operating, in one sense, to scrutinise the work of officers at various levels. Council and some other committees have external members; Council and its major committees have elected members of Congregation; and the Proctors and Assessors sit on all those committees; some also have student members. There is a great deal of scrutiny already: indeed what is often lacking is enough high-level work to be scrutinised. Where more scrutiny may be required is in the colleges and Conference of Colleges. The nexus between the University in the narrow sense and the colleges is highly problematic and completely unscrutinised by external members, representatives of Congregation, or Proctors or Assessor. What is missing in all the scrutiny that does go on is a systematic reporting back to Congregation by the scrutinisers. The Senior Proctor's oration cannot claim to fulfil that role more than fitfully. Contemplating the possible value in reporting back, one might hope that it would quell distrust of the central administration and allow peace and harmony to break out in the University. The tenth annual report of the Board of Scrutiny in Cambridge, and the debates in the Cambridge Reporter over the last year, have not nourished that hope. If I may summarise with a fanciful analogy, suppose we have an orchestra whose performance needs to be improved. Should we spend limited resources on employing a new first cello, a second flute, and a percussionist? Or should we instead pay people to add to a crowd already sitting behind the players and scrutinising them?

There are growing up a number of non-statutory groups that thereby avoid the scrutiny of the Proctors and Assessor. I see nothing sinister here as yet, but do point out that our involvement in the business of the University serves Congregation as the sovereign body of the University.

My third point is that the University is now a very large business, with a combined income and expenditure of nearly one billion pounds per year. We have not had the kind of accounting control and financial planning that is needed for such a scale of enterprise, as we have learned in some detail during our term of office. I noted earlier the trend from the 1940s for the financial scale of the central University to grow. We are convinced that more central administration not less is needed to run this University effectively. A hobbled style of decision-fudging has been more or less enforced on the centre in the past, as any clear decision would be vetoed by someone. That will no longer do. With this in mind, I express a hope that the central administration will move as a whole at some stage to the Radcliffe Infirmary site, and leave behind the dreadful building in Wellington Square in which it was placed in humiliating awfulness in 1970, I suspect deliberately to embody the low status that central administration was then accorded. Further, the building itself should be promptly demolished before a malevolent public servant lists it.

The six statutory areas of business being finished, I have only a couple of remaining points. The Proctors and Assessor have a traditional role of liaison with students and their representatives. The Senior Proctor of 1988, in discussing the student press, ruminated: 'Perhaps one should not nowadays expect of The Times the standards that it maintained when it was known as a journal of record, but Cherwell is run by students, and they should know better.' My predecessor was somewhat optimistic. This year saw the most serious difficulty ever between the University and the student press. The Oxford Student in Week 3 of Michaelmas Term was printed with three pages of detailed accounts of an ongoing disciplinary case in the University. Only after serious and expensive steps towards obtaining an injunction did the newspaper back down. Not having facilities for disposal themselves, the students therefore delivered all 3,000 copies to the Proctors' Office. I was hosting a party for Proctorial staff at 7.30 p.m., and left the office to welcome guests. Two of the guests, however, had to be left behind. The Junior Proctor and the Clerk to the Proctors arrived three- quarters of an hour later, and I recall as I speak that the Marshal and the Proctors' Officers were also involved, having helped to heft the bundles of newspapers from the van into the office, illuminated by the flashbulbs of student newspaper photographers.

This was the low point of the Proctors' relationship with student members. The main other business has been the question of OUSU finances. OUSU itself noticed a difficulty in their financial position, arising from projections of profits through their commercial activities. They have invited the University to help them sort out their procedures, and some closer relationship is likely, at least until the impending Charities Bill becomes law. The editorial freedom of the Oxford Student, despite the incident just mentioned, and the freedom of OUSU to campaign on issues of their choice will of course be preserved.

Working with the Junior Proctor has been a privilege: we compensate for each other's deficiencies, but it's better not to go into further details now. We may well be the first Proctors to enjoy discussing Banach spaces and Fourier transforms over the desk we share. We see rather less of the Assessor, but he has a no-nonsense style, particularly in evidence when he chairs committees with cheerful briskness. Early in our year, he expostulated that the politics of the Chinese Communist Party might be complicated, but were simple compared to the politics of Oxford University. He also assured us that there is no ancient Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times': nevertheless, we went on to do just that.

I join with the Junior Proctor and the Assessor in thanking the colleagues who elected us to, and especially our families for their support during our year of holding, these unique offices in which it has been our privilege to serve the University. The Buckingham Palace Garden Party was a curiously splendid occasion, but could not fully make up for those frequent evenings on which the three of us have so greatly enjoyed college and other hospitality.

Let me end with a biological analogy. The Proctors' Office bears resemblances to an ants' nest. There is a great deal going on, and much intricate cooperation between individuals in different roles: for example, the Proctors' Officers and bedels could be seen as two castes of soldier. One particular resemblance has struck me over the year. In many species of ant there is one queen in the nest and many workers. The queen is very special, anatomically and behaviourally. The simplest way to envisage the power relations in the nest, embodied in the very names we use, is that the queen reigns in the nest, and the workers obey her. In 1976, a remarkable paper 2 was published in the biological literature that showed how in certain crucial respects, there is a conflict of interest between the queen and the workers, and one that the workers win. After years of sometimes vituperative debate, the paper's conclusion now stands, and so we have to view the ants' nest a different way. There are many workers in a workers' cooperative, and they keep one of their sisters as a joint slave for the specialised task of reproduction.

The analogy, fortunately, is not exact. But the term 'Proctors' Office' does suggest that the Proctors are in charge, and that their will is done there. The Clerk to the Proctors and his staff are extremely attentive, bringing papers in, taking papers away, offering advice, and making tea very frequently. Proctors are very gratified by the sense of importance conveyed upon them in this ceremony, and in many other ceremonies, but most of all by the intelligent and discreet attention of the Proctorial staff. Sometimes, however, a doubt gnaws. When the Senior Proctor signs his name for the twentieth time in a day; or the Junior Proctor for the two hundredth; the thought arises whether a Proctor is a slave kept for the purpose of signing forms.

But even if my worst fears prove true, it is only right to record here the Proctors' and Assessor's debt of gratitude to Dr Brian Gasser for his wise advice, engaging company, and regular refreshments. Mrs Linda Mason knows 'all that there is to be knowed' about examination regulations and procedures. Ms Cecilia Hogg is tenacious in her pursuit of disciplinary casework, and Dr Ilaria Gualino and Mrs Janet Moreton have also earned our sincere thanks for their work and dedication. We have also been assiduously attended whenever required by the Proctors' Officers under the able leadership of the Marshal. If it was slavery, it was a most enjoyable slavery, and we offer our successors a heartfelt welcome as the insignia and badges of office pass from us to them in the next few moments.


1 W.A. Pantin, Oxford Lives in Oxford Archives (Oxford University Press, 1972). I am grateful to Mr Robin Briggs for drawing this work to my attention.
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2 R.L. Trivers and H. Hare, 'Haplodiploidy and the evolution of the social insects' (Science, 191 (1976), pp. 249–63).
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PROCTORIAL YEAR 2005–6

Summary of complaints received

The 164 complaints handled by the Proctors during the Proctorial Year 2005–6 (including a small number carried forward from previous years) may be categorised as follows. The numbers in brackets refer to 2004–5.

Examinations and research student matters: 137 (125), comprising undergraduates 86 (89) and postgraduates 51 (36). These included 45 (38) requests for verification of results that did not develop into substantive complaints. Of the cases completed, the Proctors upheld 25 complaints in whole or in part. Two complainants made successful appeals to EPSC, and EPSC also provided an alternative remedy for one complaint dismissed by the Proctors.

Equal Opportunities: 0 (0). (But note that some examination complaints also involved Equal Opportunities issues.)

Harassment: 10 (7). Of the cases completed, the Proctors upheld 3 (dealt with under student disciplinary procedures) and referred one to the Registrar because it involved staff members.

Maladministration: 7 (6). Of the cases completed, the Proctors upheld 1 complaint.

Quality of/access to teaching, research or support facilities: 1 (0). Complainant did not proceed with the matter.

Suspension/rustication from the University: 1 (2). Case in progress.

Student Union (OUSU): 0 (1).

Other: 8 (4). In one case, the complainant was advised to take the matter up with college authorities.

Total: 164 (145)

Among the cases completed, the Proctors upheld in whole or in part a total of 29 complaints and arranged for redress to be provided where appropriate.

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Summary of disciplinary cases

(Totals for previous year given in brackets. Where students were charged with more than one offence relating to the same incident, the case is reported under the most serious of the charges.)

Breach of Statute XI Code of Discipline

Obstruction of a university officer: 1 (1) (disciplinary hearing is pending).

Occupation of university property: 3 (5). The Court of Summary Jurisdiction imposed fines of £180, £150, and £80.

Forgery/falsification of university document: 2 (0). The Court of Summary Jurisdiction rusticated one offender for a year (penalty confirmed on appeal to the Disciplinary Court). The second disciplinary hearing is pending.

Harassment: 3 (0). The Court of Summary Jurisdiction rusticated one offender for a year. The Disciplinary Court rusticated one offender for two months and issued a written warning to one offender (appeal to Appeal Court pending).

Misuse of Property (Information Technology facilities): 5 (7). The Proctors imposed fines of £50, £40, and £20. The Court of Summary Jurisdiction imposed a fine of £500 and ordered payment of £240 compensation. One case is pending.

Engaging in violent behaviour: 0 (1).

Engaging in offensive behaviour or language: 0 (1).

Engaging in activities likely to cause injury or impair safety: 0 (7).

Misappropriation of university property: 0 (2).


Breach of Rules Committee Regulations

Behaviour after examinations: 15 (43).

Fines were imposed in the Proctors' Court as follows: 1 of £60; 4 of £50; 1 of £45; 2 of £30.

In addition, 6 Spot Fines were imposed: 2 of £50; 2 of £40; 1 of £30; 1 of £25.

The Court of Summary Jurisdiction fined one offender £60 and ordered payment of £14.95 compensation.


Breach of the Proctors' Disciplinary Regulations for University Examinations

Academic misconduct: 11 (8). In one case, the Proctors issued a written warning. In two cases the Court of Summary Jurisdiction ordered a marks penalty. In three cases, the Court of Summary Jurisdiction ordered that the offender should be failed in particular papers or have particular work disregarded (an appeal in one case to the Disciplinary Court was partly upheld and a written warning was substituted as the penalty). In one case, a special disciplinary tribunal imposed a fine of £100 and ordered that an offender's written assignments should be disregarded. In one case, the Disciplinary Court ordered that the candidate should be failed in the entire examination and expelled the offender from the University. Three cases (referred to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction) are pending.

Other: 2 (1). The Proctors imposed fines of £30 and £20 on candidates who took mobile telephones into examination rooms.

In two further cases where the Proctors concluded that a breach of examination regulations had been neither intentional nor reckless, they exercised their discretion to refer back to the Examiners with recommendations about marks penalties.

Total cases where charges were brought: 42 (76)


Other matters

The Proctors referred to the Disciplinary Court the case of one student who had been convicted of a serious criminal offence.

The Proctors confirmed that a penalty of rustication imposed by a college should apply also to university premises and facilities (appeal to the Court of Summary Jurisdiction pending).

The Proctors dealt with 18 (30) new cases of students reported by libraries for non-payment of fines and/or non-return of books.

Fines totalling £350 were imposed on five student organisations registered with the Proctors for failing to comply with administrative provisions in part 1 of the Regulations of the Rules Committee.

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Supplement (1) to Oxford University Gazette No. 4765. Wednesday, 22 March 2006.