Visitor does work

September 17, 1999

Peter Butler (Letters, THES, September 10) could not have appealed to Cambridge's visitor since the university does not have one. The office is not provided for in our constitutional arrangements.

Butler, who was aggrieved over a decision in 1988 of the university's board of graduate studies, against which he appealed and which was twice reconsidered through our internal procedures, wrote to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as chancellor of the university, not as visitor. At Cambridge, as is normal in many universities, the chancellor has no formal powers to review such decisions and Butler was advised accordingly.

The debate about the need for independent review is an important one, and the discussion of the actual and potential role of the visitor is significant in that context and interesting in its own right. We are looking at ways of strengthening our existing arrangements for independent review albeit that the university (unlike each college) does not have a visitor.

T. J. Mead

Registrary, University of Cambridge

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