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Over the last year, the University’s Information Services Committee (ISC) has been preparing a new policy that will govern the allocation of @cam.ac.uk email addresses.

This covers all addresses ending …cam.ac.uk (e.g. @medschl.cam.ac.uk, @jesus.cam.ac.uk, @admin.cam.ac.uk). It is relevant to anyone who has such an email address, whether their email service is provided by UIS, a department/College or other organisation.

Comprehensive information about the policy proposals and why they are needed is available below.
 

Latest news

5 May 2022
The next stage of work on the new email policy involves developing the policy in detail and putting in place the technical solutions, processes and personnel needed to implement it. Given the complexity of the email landscape at Cambridge – reflected in the survey feedback – and the need to get this policy right, the Information Services Committee (ISC) plans to continue the policy development during the academic year 2022-23, with the expectation that any changes arising from the policy will come into effect in the academic year 2023-24. Read more in this update from the Chair of the ISC.

1 March 2022
The consultation on the principles and recommendations of the new email policy closed on Friday 18 February with over 1500 responses received. We are very grateful for all the detailed, constructive comments we received from survey respondents, and members of the email policy sub-group are now working their way through that data, considering it very carefully. We appreciate that members of the University community are very interested in the progress of this policy, and we will post further updates once we have had time to properly digest and consider the implications of the consultation feedback.

Dr Jessica Gardner
Chair of the Email Policy Sub-group of the Information Services Committee
 

Why a new email policy is needed

The University’s practices governing the allocation of email addresses have grown up organically over many years, and there is currently no formal policy governing exactly who has access to @cam.ac.uk email addresses.   

This matters because possession of an @cam.ac.uk email address is generally taken by the outside world to mean that an individual is “at” Cambridge: it confers a Cambridge (digital) identity. People may make assumptions about an individual’s formal relationship with the University if they have an @cam.ac.uk email address, and these email addresses also act as a passport to gain access to certain software and systems both within and outside the University.  

Regulating access to an institutional digital identity is important for the following reasons:

  • Cyber security Cyber security is an increasing concern for the University, as it is for all organisations: a serious cyber attack has the potential to cause severe and costly disruption to the University’s business. 
  • Data protection Good data protection is both a legal and moral imperative: we have a duty to protect the personal data of our staff, students and research participants, and this duty is enforced in law (with severe financial penalties for organisations found to be in breach of it).  
  • External relationships We are increasingly required by external partners – such as research funders – to demonstrate that we have adequate policies and technical controls to protect systems and data. 
  • Reputation management The @cam.ac.uk domain is a key part of the University’s brand and anything that happens in that digital domain – including email – could impact on our reputation.

The new email policy is intended to ensure the University has clear oversight of who has access to a Cambridge digital identity based on an @cam.ac.uk email address, and that anyone who has such access is in a defined relationship to the University and its academic mission.  
 

Key principles and recommendations

The following principles and recommendations were approved by the ISC at its meeting in October 2021 and will guide the development of the final version of the policy. 

We sought feedback from the University community on these principles and on the key recommendations concerning eligibility and transition arrangements (recommendations 2 and 5 below) through an online survey that ran from 1 December 2021 to 18 February 2022.

Principles 

  • The new policy must be appropriate to the needs of collegiate Cambridge and also improve information governance, identity management and cyber security.   
  • The transitional arrangements for the implementation of the new policy should be mindful of the need to support those who may be affected by this change, including those who have operated for a long-time with just one email address which is used for all parts of life.   
  • The policy must include provision to retain @cam.ac.uk email addresses for those who continue beyond retirement to actively contribute to the academic life of the University or Colleges.   
  • Retired professional services staff would not normally be eligible for an @cam.ac.uk email address, but exceptions should be allowable where deemed appropriate by the relevant Head of Institution for a defined purpose and time.  
  • Provision should be made for those affiliated individuals who make a defined contribution for a defined period, either through academic association (e.g. individuals with adjunct titles) or professional association (e.g. attached to a project or committee).  
  • The concept of allocating an @cam.ac.uk email address for life (in perpetuity) is no longer valid policy for any category of eligibility, though transitional arrangements are essential for those who have previously operated on this assumption. Under new policy, all routes to eligibility should be time-limited.

Recommendation 1 – use and purpose of @cam.ac.uk email addresses 

The ISC has defined the proper use and purpose of @cam.ac.uk email addresses as follows: 

  1. @cam.ac.uk email addresses are primarily for academic and administrative work for the University and the Colleges.  
  2. For academic and administrative purposes of the University and the Colleges, only the @cam.ac.uk email address should be used. 

These purposes are informed by the information security and information governance requirements on the University and the Colleges, such as those framed by the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act and research funders.  

Guidance on usage of @cam.ac.uk email addresses is being developed to help steer good practice. As part of the policy implementation, UIS will work with the HR Division to ensure guidance on email use is built into induction information for new staff joining the University. 
 

Recommendation 2 - eligibility 

This is one of the areas that has attracted most feedback and concern. There is a complex balance between the benefits of improved information and cyber security and user expectations of eligibility, especially in retirement.   

The ISC proposes the following three routes for eligibility for an @cam.ac.uk email address. 

Route A: Automatic Eligibility 
 
Individuals can be eligible through a formal relationship with the collegiate University. Eligibility in this category will last as long as the formal relationship or title lasts. This category consists of: 

  • Current employees of the academic University and the Colleges including employees of wholly-owned subsidiaries of the University and TES staff once assigned, but excluding staff at Cambridge University Press and Assessment. 
  • Current registered students as defined in Statute A X 2(c), and unmatriculated students who are attending, or have accepted an offer to attend, a course of study 
  • All members of the Faculties 
  • All Fellows of the Colleges, including Emeritus FellowS 
  • All Fellows and equivalents of the Theological Colleges 
  • All Honorary Professors and Readers 
  • All members of the Regent House  

Further work may be needed to define the categories listed above and to ensure they are as inclusive as possible to those who should be automatically eligible.  

Route B: Institutional Nomination  

Individuals can be eligible by institutional nomination. This category will consist of those nominated either by the Head of a Department in the University or the Head of a College. This includes staff with adjunct academic titles and other individuals whom the Head of Department / College determine require an @cam.ac.uk email address for specific agreed purposes, such as external membership of a committee, consultancy, or volunteering. At the discretion of the Head of Department or Head of College it may also include other roles. 

Eligibility in this category should be for a defined period, either until the end of the academical year in which the nomination is made, or the end of the following academical year if the nomination is made in or after Easter term, or the defined term of office. It may be renewed repeatedly. Nominations may be revoked by the Head of the institution that originally made them. 

Route C: Self Nomination  

Individuals can be eligible by self-nomination. This category consists of individuals in academic roles who have been previously automatically eligible under Route A, are now retired, and who self-confirm that they are actively involved in defined academic activities of the collegiate University. 

Eligibility in this category will last until the end of the academical year in which the request is made, or the end of the following academical year if the request is made in or after Easter term. It may be renewed repeatedly, by virtue of resubmitting the self-nomination. Heads of Institutions will review self-nominations and retain a right of veto. 
 

Recommendation 3 – regulations 

The sub-group recommends that the ISC regulations governing IT use as set out in Statutes and Ordinances be updated to reflect the recommended use and purpose of an @cam.ac.uk email address and that such rules apply to all individuals to whom an @cam.ac.uk email address is allocated. 
 

Recommendation 4 – policy implementation and date for review 

The ISC has approved an implementation date for the revised policy of the start of the academical year 2022-23 – i.e. 4 October 2022 – assuming the policy is approved at the relevant committees and that there is adequate technical and communications support in place to support implementation 

The ISC has approved a date for policy review at three years from the policy implementation date, on the condition that the ISC can trigger an earlier review if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a change to the regulatory framework for information governance and cyber security. 
 

Recommendation 5 – transition arrangements 

The ISC proposes the following transitional arrangements to allow time for current @cam email users who will cease to be eligible under the proposed new policy to adapt and change their provider:  

  • a grace period of two academic years (running from the proposed implementation date at the start of 22/23 to the end of 23/24) that would allow individuals no longer eligible for an @cam.ac.uk email address under the new policy to make alternative email arrangements over an extended period.  
  • emails sent to an @cam.ac.uk address may be forwarded automatically to another address specified by the individual for a period of up to 12 months after eligibility for that address has ceased. This would be available to affected users after the two-year grace period and might also be extended to some other withdrawn @cam.ac.uk email addresses going forward. 

This recommendation is intended to seek a balance between the need to improve information governance and to support those impacted by policy change.  
 

Background to the policy development  

The main development work on the policy was carried out by a sub-group of the Information Services Committee that was chaired by Dr Jessica Gardner (the University Librarian) and had input from a range of College and University staff groups. Copies of older versions of the policy proposal documents are available:

In developing the policy proposals, particularly around eligibility and transition arrangements, the sub-group took account of concerns raised by current and retired staff about the potential impact of policy change, particularly on the academic community, after previous versions of the policy proposal documents were circulated (see version 1, version 2).

The ISC, its sub-group members and UIS much value the comments received to date on this topic from the University community. The feedback provided and concerns raised have been immensely useful in guiding the discussions and development of the policy, including the need to ensure support for those who continue to be academically active in retirement.  

The ISC has used this feedback to inform work on Version 3 of the policy. At its meeting in October 2021, the ISC approved six key principles to underpin this version of the policy and made a number of recommendations on the main provisions. The ISC is now consulting with the University community on these principles and recommendations, particularly those around eligibility and transition arrangements. The feedback from this consultation will be used to refine a final version of the policy that goes to the ISC for approval. The ISC will then make a recommendation to the General Board and Council. 

Contact us

All updates on the progress of the policy will be posted on these webpages, and significant updates will be published in The Reporter.

Technical queries relating to the transition from Hermes to Exchange Online should be addressed to the UIS Service Desk (servicedesk@uis.cam.ac.uk). 

 

 

 

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