[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the 108th meeting of Standing Committee

Saturday, 22nd January, 2004, 11 a.m.

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

  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of Last Meeting
  3. Matters Arising
  4. Matters Arising from Draft Minutes of Council 22/11/03
  5. Chair's Report
  6. Treasurer's Report
  7. Secretary's Report
  8. Co-options and Council Offices
  9. Timetable for Nominations to the Standing Committee
  10. OCR Ancient History
  11. Bulletin
  12. ICS Review
  13. Co-ordinating Committee for Classics
  14. Departmental Subscriptions
  15. A. O. B.
  16. Date of next meeting.

Present were: Prof. Graham Shipley (chair), Dr Philip Burton, Prof. Philip Hardie, Dr Nick Lowe, Dr Paul Millett, Prof. Stephen Mitchell, Prof. John Morgan, Dr Peter O'Neill, Dr Costas Panayotakis, Ms Gill Partington, Dr Susanna Phillipo, Dr James Robson

1. Apologies for Absence.

Dr Peter Jones, Prof. Christopher Smith, Dr Teresa Morgan, Dr Patty Baker

2. Minutes of Last Meeting.

These were approved, subject to the correction of 'Jean' to 'Jon' in Item 10.

3. Matters Arising.

None not covered elsewhere.

4. Matters Arising from Draft Minutes of Council 22/11/03.

5. Chair's Report

5.1. Institute of Classical Studies Review.
The Chair had written to Nicholas Mann (pro-Vice Chancellor, London) as mandated by Council (minutes of 22/11/03, Item 12). Prof. Mann had replied that the University of London did not intend to restrict access to the ICS. He recognized that the Library received special support from the Higher Education Funding Council, as well as contributions from the Hellenic and Roman Societies; the two last-named were currently 'under discussion'. There would be consultation on any proposed changes to the status of the ICS; it need not be assumed that all change would be detrimental. The Chair noted also that Prof. Christopher Carey had set up a Working Party (separate from the University Review) to consider future strategy for the ICS; Prof. Shipley had been invited to sit on this group. Support had been sought for the Winnington-Ingram fund for the training of librarians.
5.2. The British Academy Review.
Prof. Andrew Burnett and Prof. David Mattingly had been elected to the Academy; various other classicists had been appointed to senior positions. There was no information on funding of the British Schools at Rome, Athens, and Ankara.

Prof. Mitchell summarized the situation with regard to the funding of the Schools. It was proposed to reduce core funding, with money saved to be put in a single 'pot'; the Schools were then to bid for money from this pot for specific projects. These proposals were still under consultation, and any concerns should be passed on to Honorary Secretaries of the Schools. Prof. Mitchell noted that the Schools represented long-term investments, while the BA as a whole was tending to prefer short-term investments, as being more accountable. The classics section of the Academy were happier with status quo, without having formed a definite resolution on this.

5.3. AHRB ring-fenced PhD funding (see Minutes of 31/5/03 item 4. 2, and 11/10/03 item 4. 2. a).
The AHRB had now established ring-fenced areas of research at PhD level, and applicants for funding would be invited to state whether they wished their application to be considered as falling within one of these areas.
5.4. Contact with Public Figures.
The Chair had discussed with Prof. Peter Jones the possible ways in which the CUCD might increase its contact with public figures, in particular parliamentarians. The model of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG) was noted. It was agreed that members of the SC should forward to the Secretary the names of any such public figures known to them (to include also members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly).
5.5. Letterhead for CUCD correspondence.
The Chair's proposed letterhead was approved, subject to the substitution of the abbreviation 'rhul' for 'rhbnc'. Suggestions for a brief statement of the CUCD's purpose to be forwarded to GS or PHB.
5.6. Inter-institutional Research Training Centre.
Prof. Pat Easterling had drawn attention to the Dutch OIKOS research training network (http://www.oikos.leidenuniv.nl), run by Prof. Ineke Sluiter. This was a consortium of classics departments in six Dutch universities, offering up to 420 hours of PG training over two years. This might serve as a model for a similar centre in the UK, such as that proposed by Prof. Carey to be based in the Senate House, London. It was agreed to invite Prof. Sluiter to the next Council meeting.
5.7. Classics Teacher Training at Strathclyde University.
Serious concern had been expressed within the classics community about the proposed closure of the teacher-training course in classics at Strathclyde University. Dr Ronald Knox and Prof. Christopher Smith had been active in organizing support for replacement staff. A draft of Prof. Smith's letter to Strathclyde was circulated. Dr Costas Panayotakis informed that Committee that proposals had been mooted to appoint part-time teacher trainer, perhaps on a permanent basis. The Committee noted that:
  1. there was evidence of a skills shortage in classics teaching (in 2001, 140 posts were advertized, 46 classics teachers left the profession, 30 entered it);
  2. the Cambridge course was over-subscribed, and there was anecdotal evidence that some potential teachers were deterred from training at Cambridge or London (the two alternatives) either by financial, academic, or personal considerations.
It was agreed to write a separate, shorter letter, setting the out the importance of the Strathclyde course within a wider UK context, and offering to help publicize it within the subject-community. (action: GS).
5.8. QAA circular re Benchmarking.
A response date of 2/2/04 had been set for initial responses to proposal that subject benchmarks be revised, and of 12/3/04 for final responses. The Committee endorsed the Chair's view that the existing subject benchmarks for Classics were admirable, but agreed to consult departmental representatives to gain a wider response. (action: PBurton)

6. Treasurer's Report.

Dr Baker was absent, but circulated a paper showing some monies still owed for printing of the Bulletin. It was agreed that the question of varying levels of subscription according to size of department should be reconsidered, and that Chair and Treasurer would sift the issues ahead of the next meeting. (action: GS and PBaker).

7. Secretary's Report.

All matters covered elsewhere.

8. Co-options and Council Offices.

The Committee welcomed Dr Millett's willingness to serve as Statistics Officer. The Chair and Dr Millett would liaise about support to employ postgraduate assistance in the compilation of stats; the Statistics Officer would retain responsibility for correspondence with academic departments and for the final presentation of data.

No further co-options to the Standing Committee were made.

9. Timetable for Nominations to the Standing Committee.

It was agreed that the deadline for nominations should normally be three weeks ahead of Council. The Standing Committee would review the situation at their meeting around a month before.

10. OCR Ancient History (Gill Partington reporting).

At present only two English exam boards (AQA and OCR) offered distinct 'A' Level courses in Ancient History (Welsh schools bought in English exams). There were around 500 takers annually, which was not seen as cost-efficient. While it was unlikely that any decisions on the future of the subject would be taken before the Tomlinson review on school qualifications in 2005, there were concerns within JACT that the boards may wish to withdraw 'A' Level Ancient History. These concerns were heightened by the relatively small representation from university ancient historians at the examination boards. The Standing Committee agreed to communicate, both formally through Gill Partington and informally through contacts with Dr Mary Beard and Mr James Morwood, the importance attached by university classics departments to the study of Ancient History as a separate discipline; that in most universities the two subjects had a distinct character; and that if the subject were lost at 'A' Level, then not all potential candidates would final Classical Civilization a suitable alternative; and that the study of Ancient History at university level would be adversely affected by any withdrawal of the 'A' Level course.

11. Bulletin.

Concerns were expressed over the labour involved in preparing bundles of bulletins for distribution, and in dealing with uncollected copies. Dr Lowe offered to bundle up copies for the 2004 Council meeting. However, the cost of sending uncollected copies could rise above £500.

12. ICS Review.

Covered under Item 5.1 above.

13. Co-ordinating Committee for Classics (papers attached)

The Committee minuted its thanks to Dr Jones and his colleagues for their invaluable work. In response to Mr John Hazel's letter, it was happy to offer the £100 requested.

14. Departmental Subscriptions.

Covered under Item 6 above.

15. A. O. B.

The Committee was asked to draw the attention of any interested parties to the existence of the Wiedemann Fund.

16. Date of next meeting.

15th May, 2004.

Meeting concluded at 1.20 p. m.

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