Academics condemn Cambridge reform plan

January 23, 1998

Cambridge University's plans to reform its procedures for promoting staff have received a battering from academics, writes Phil Baty.

The plans, which include promoting about 300 lecturers to a new post of senior lecturer at a cost of Pounds 750,000, were condemned this week as "incoherent" and "shameful" at a Regent House meeting.

The charge was led by promotions campaigner Gill Evans, who won leave in the High Court last year for a judicial review of Cambridge's promotion procedures.

Dr Evans, who remains a lecturer at 53 after almost 20 years with the university, believes that the changes proposed by the Cambridge General Board, a group of a dozen unelected academics, do not go far enough. Senior lecturer status was inadequate for senior academics trapped "in our unrewarded fifties and sixties", she said.

Dr Evans told the meeting: "It is shameful that the general board is so keen to give out promotions carrying no real elevation of status while restricting the number of those who will become real players in the university's power-games."

The proposed changes were set out last month after over a year of consultation with staff. The university admitted last June that it cannot afford to promote all who deserve it. Under the changes, about 40 per cent of staff would be promoted to senior lecturer, with a salary of Pounds 31,000 to Pounds 33,000, close to that for a readership.

Anthony Edwards, an expert in Cambridge's constitution, attacked the way the proposals were drawn up. He argued that the proposals should not have been made through a Notice of the general board, but by a Report, where the names of general board members who object could be published.

The general board will draw up detailed proposals for approval by the Regent House in the Lent Term.

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