Board's report carpets the suits

October 13, 2000

Cambridge University has been accused by its board of scrutiny of failings in accountability.

The board's annual report says managers have damaged the integrity of the exams process. Other failings listed are not conforming to best financial accounting practice, the secrecy of college finances and the badly managed implementation of the new £8 million accounting system.

Also singled out are the failure to keep track of university assets properly and the breach of statutory requirements.

The board also criticises the university's governing council and general board for failing to respond properly to its previous recommendations.

In its fifth report the board reports a serious failing in the examinations process and more general problems with the system.

In Easter term last year a class list was published in which about a quarter of the students had been given the wrong degree classification. This was a result of an "error in programming the examiners' spreadsheet", and "the error went unnoticed for several days".

The board said: "We expect our students to accept the decisions we make as examiners on their work and we give them only the most limited scope for appeals. If they are to respect the integrity of this process, it is essential not only that the procedures by which the decisions are reached are open to view but that our failures in implementing the procedures are made public too."

The board said it was also particularly concerned about the university's failure to consolidate into its accounts the Cambridge University Press and the examinations syndicate, UCLES.

"Both (CUP) and UCLES are international businesses with annual turnovers of £102 million and £94 million respectively," said the report. "The manner in which they are managed is of central concern to the university."

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