Oxford to learn from Cambridge

January 2, 1998

A REPORT into the future of Oxford University is expected to suggest radical changes that would make it run more like Cambridge.

Peter North's long-awaited paper is likely to recommend a more centralised and departmental system, perhaps involving schools and deans as a layer above faculties. This would entail major restructuring of budgets, causing fierce debate.

While colleges are likely to remain important, they could also be forced to hand over a number of responsibilities to central administration. Day-to-day academic government of Oxford is run by the general board of the faculties, representing 16 faculties.

In Cambridge, since 1994, five schools have incorporated its 21 faculties, plus a number of other departments, resulting in a more streamlined system.

The report is certain to tackle financial transparency. It is understood that several hundred pages are devoted to tabling and explaining the university's complicated income streams, internal subsidies and financial commitments.

It is likely to support the spirit of recent findings by Oxford businessman Chris Goodall that the university is spending an increasing amount on administration.

But his figures are based on a number of adjustments and assumptions that university officers dispute. The report is expected to show the university is running a reasonably tight ship. As a result of the review of college fees being considered by ministers, Oxford will be under pressure to produce clear public accounts showing this in future.

Oxbridge reserves, page 3

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