[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the thirty-third meeting of Council

Saturday, 17th November, 2001, 11 a.m.

Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, LONDON WC1E 7HU.

  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chair's Report
  5. Treasurer's Report
  6. Statistics
  7. Elections
  8. Bulletin
  9. The Thomas Wiedemann Memorial Fund
  10. 10. AOB

Present: Prof. R.W. Sharples (Chair/UCL); Dr C. Behr (Roehampton); Dr A. Blanshard (Reading); Prof. E.G. Clark (Bristol); Dr J. Davidson (Warwick); Mr G. Eatough (Statistics Officer/Lampeter); Dr M.J. Edwards (Queen Mary, London); Dr P. Gainsford (Manchester); Dr E.D. Hunt (Durham); Dr N.J. Lowe (Webmaster/Royal Holloway); Dr C. Panayotakis (Glasgow); Dr E.E. Pender (Secretary/Leeds); Dr N.B. Rankov (Royal Holloway); Dr J. Rich (Nottingham); Dr J. Robson (Open University); Dr N.K. Rutter (Treasurer/Edinburgh); Prof. A. Schiesaro (King's College London); Prof. M. Schofield (Cambridge); Prof. R. Seaford (Exeter); Dr D.G.J. Shipley (Statistics Officer/Leicester); Prof. S. West (Oxford); Prof. G.D. Woolf (St. Andrews).

1. Apologies

No apologies had been received from institutions not represented.

2. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of Council of 11th November 2000 were accepted. It was agreed that in future the minutes of Council should be sent out twice: first after the meeting and second with the papers for the next year's meeting.

3. Matters arising

3.1 National Classics Prospectus

Two items of business came before Council: i) the choice of institution to host the new website and ii) the election of two members of Council to serve on the editorial panel for the website.

i) Bids to host the website had been received from Cambridge and King's College London. Practical aspects of the two proposals, including costs, were discussed. There were suggestions for possible outside sources of funding (HEFCE and LTSN). The committee unanimously agreed that both bids were acceptable and voted as follows: the Cambridge bid received no votes; the King's College London bid received 17 votes; and there were 5 abstentions.

ii) The committee nominated and seconded Nick Lowe and Graham Shipley as CUCD representatives on the editorial board of the new website.

3.2 Media Relations
The Chair reported the disquiet at Standing Committee about the league table of Classics departments published in The Guardian. One of the principal causes of concern was the level of inaccuracy in the table. He had consulted Peter Jones (Co- ordinating Committee for Classics) and on his advice had invited the education correspondent of The Times to speak at Council. There had been no response to this letter. The committee discussed how best to respond and amidst divided opinion Prof. Seaford proposed the motion that "CUCD is opposed to the principle of global league tables that provide a single ranking of Classics departments". With 13 members voting in favour, 6 against and 3 abstentions, the motion was passed. It was agreed that, after further checking the version of the table on the Guardian's website and consulting member departments on errors, the Chair would write to the newspaper expressing CUCD's view and pointing out that because of its errors the league table should be corrected or removed from its website.

4. Chair's Report

The Chair directed members to the full text of his annual report published in the Bulletin (Bulletin 30, 2001). Since the Bulletin was not available at Council the Chair summarised the main points.

5. Treasurer's Report

The treasurer presented the accounts for 2000-2001. The Business Premium Account, as of September 29th 2001, stood at £1,208.49 and the Community Account (to cover the running of CUCD), as of November 14th 2001, at £1,334.93. He reported that it had been an abnormal year in that there had been extra expenses for travel owing to rail problems in autumn 2000, and a catching up in payments for the Bulletin. Overall the finances seemed to be in a reasonably good position. He raised the question of how to use the Business Premium Account and would bring this to the next meeting of Standing Committee. The accounts were accepted and the committee thanked the treasurer.

6. Statistics

6.1 Statistics 2000/1
Geoffrey Eatough, as outgoing statistics officer, presented his final report. He explained the "smooth transition", as Graham Shipley, the new statistics officer, had been shadowing the exercise in this current year. He gave a summary of the full report published in the Bulletin and outlined the nature of the task he has been accomplishing for 17 years. [Geoff has served in this demanding role since 1984, beginning during the Barron years of restructuring in HE]. The collection of figures from departments was a sensitive matter, with colleagues needing to be assured of the confidentiality of certain aspects of the statistics return. Although most member institutions took part in the exercise, each year a small number did not (this year two institutions had not returned figures) and it was hoped that the new questionnaire, alongside the new facility for returns via the CUCD web-site, would enable a full return in future years. It was agreed that the annual statistics from departments provided a valuable picture of the state of Classics in British universities and the committee warmly thanked Geoff for his contribution over this long term of service.
Graham Shipley thanked Geoff for training and observed that he would be a "hard act to follow".

6.2 UCAS data search
GS had established that there were 418 different UCAS codes for classical subjects and had requested from UCAS a search on figures for all Classical subjects during the last three years. Although this data measured applications and not applicants (and so had its limitations), nevertheless it established a reliable picture of applications to the different programmes nationally. The data had been edited and published in the Bulletin. In the absence of the full text, GS selected salient features for comment. The data included breakdowns of the social background of those applying, their nationality (UK/EU/ overseas) and types of school/college attended.

6.3 Consultation on statistics questionnaire
GS reported on developments in reforming the statistics questionnaire for the coming year. There had been helpful responses to the consultation letter of the summer. No-one wanted radical change in the manner of data collection and publication, to allow comparisons with previous results, and the general message was "the simpler, the better". Some useful minor changes had been suggested:

GS would take account of these suggestions in revising the questionnaire and asked Council for any further ideas on improvements. The new version of the questionnaire would go before Standing Committee in January 2002 for approval and would then be published via the CUCD website. The census date would remain December, but with some flexibility.

In discussion it was clarified that the UCAS statistics included figures for Scotland. It was noted that under the Scottish applications system applicants intending to study Classics are admitted to the Faculty of Arts which, given changes of mind, can result in a marked difference between numbers of students intending to study Classics and those actually entering Classics programmes. Thus the number of applications converted was likely to be lower than that for the rest of the UK.
For our own questionnaire, the Chair suggested adding in the "EU/Overseas" distinction.

7. Elections

7.1 CUCD Elections
All nominations for Chair and membership of Standing committee had been seconded by other member institutions before the meeting and the ballot was held using the system of alternative voting (AV). 20 institutions voted, with the Oxford and Cambridge representatives entitled to cast two votes each. The election of Prof. Gillian Clark as Chair was announced at the end of Council, and the count after the meeting confirmed the election to Standing Committee of Dr Philip Hardie and Prof. Stephen Mitchell, both of whom commanded broad support in the voting.

Prof. Schofield suggested changes to the procedure for submitting nominations, allowing candidates the opportunity to outline their suitability for election. It was agreed that institutional contacts wishing to nominate a candidate should first contact the nominee to secure both their willingness to serve and a short statement on their experience (word-limit etc. to be decided by Standing Committee). Such statements should be sent to CUCD as part of the process of making nominations, to be published with the list of nominees after October Standing Committee.

7.2 AHRB nominations
The call for names to go forward for selection by the AHRB had resulted in six nominations from member institutions, all of which had been seconded by other member institutions before Council. At the meeting all six nominations were accepted and thus the 2001 list of approved nominations for AHRB panel selection was:

Prof. R. Buxton (Bristol)
Prof. P. Cartledge (Cambridge)
Dr L. Hardwick (Open)
Prof. E. Hall (Durham)
Prof. R. Seaford (Exeter)
Prof. A.J. Woodman (Durham).

8. Bulletin

It was regretted that for the second year running the Bulletin was not available at Council for reference and distribution to departments. The meeting referred investigation to Standing Committee and hoped that problems could be rectified for Council 2002. Once available, copies would be posted out to institutional contacts (normally HoDs).

9. The Thomas Wiedemann Memorial Fund

Dr John Rich presented to the meeting a draft document introducing this new fund and explaining the proposed application process. Feedback from departments was requested and colleagues were asked to circulate the information within their institutions. The final version of the document and an application form would be sent to Heads of departments and distributed via various classical lists. The Fund would begin operating in January 2002 and applications would be welcome all year round. Minor suggestions were made, which Dr Rich would note in producing the final version.

10. AOB

10.1 Election of Chair
The result of the election of Chair was announced. Gillian Clark was welcomed into her new role and Council expressed its warm thanks to Bob Sharples, the outgoing Chair.

10.2 AHRB research strategy seminar
A conference on the place of IT in humanities research would be held at the British Academy on 17th December 2001.

10.3 Cork Summer School
A summary report and budget had been received from the second University of Cork Latin and Greek Summer School. The second year of the programme had been highly successful but there was a potential problem in recruiting staff for future years. The director of the summer school, Dr Noreen Humble, had asked that it be brought to Council's attention that the organisers hoped to create a small database of possible teachers, including PhD students with prior experience of teaching Greek and Latin to beginners. The request was noted and members were asked to circulate this information within their departments. Some concerns were expressed that in the case of PhD students this would mean six weeks ' absence from research and the meeting agreed that the decision must be left to individual students and supervisors. Council congratulated the organisers for running a successful and beneficial summer school.

10.4 RAE publications return
The Chair explained that the slowness of publications coming back to staff from the RAE exercise was due to a log-jam at HEFCE. It was now around a month since the final RAE panel meeting and the materials had not been needed since then.

10.5 CUCD communications
In response to a query about mailings to Oxford, it was explained that papers were sent only to the Chair of the Faculty of Classics. Council was reminded that mailings were sent to one institutional contact only, and that from there local arrangements were needed for circulating CUCD material.

E. E. Pender
School of Classics
University of Leeds

Bulletin ContentsCUCD HomeRoyal Holloway Classics Dept