Promotion ballot stalls Cambridge budget

June 27, 1997

Cambridge University has suffered its first major embarrassment in the row over its procedures for promoting academic staff.

History lecturer Gill Evans, who claims "outdated and secretive" procedures unfairly deny staff promotion opportunities, is already pursuing her three-year campaign with the High Court and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

But now Cambridge has been forced to put its Pounds 250 million 1997/98 budget plans on hold, as Dr Evans has forced a ballot to revise this year's cash allocations to make way for more promotions. The ballot will take place in the autumn, too late for the new academic year in August.

Cambridge administrators are now unable to allocate any cash or pay salaries until after the ballot, although an emergency grace in the Regent House is expected to alleviate a total shutdown.

A Cambridge spokeswoman said that the forced ballot was "not a fiasco for us. It is a real inconvenience and there is pressure on the system. But things will not grind to a halt. And money will still be paid out."

Dr Evans has collected over 50 signatures - 40 more than the minimum required - from Regent House's 3,300 members. Opponents have mocked the size of her support, but Dr Evans was still collecting as The THES went to press.

"I've got three more days," she said. "But even to collect 50 at a time when there are exam meetings and people are away is good."

Dr Evans is also claiming widespread support from outside the university.

In a letter to Dr Evans, former Cambridge lecturer Nigel Wilkins laments "the sterile impasse that, professionally, Cambridge proved to be".

Professor Wilkins was turned down for a readership in French at Cambridge, but has just been made a professor at the Sorbonne University in France.

"By its total lack of a proper career structure, Cambridge is losing many of its best people at an accelerating rate," he wrote.

The Equal Opportunities Commission is still considering Dr Evans's case.

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