[Council of University Classical Departments]

Draft minutes of the thirty-seventh meeting of Council

Saturday, 12th November, 2005, 11 a.m.

Room 331, Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, LONDON WC1E 7HU.


  1. Apologies
  2. Minutes of Last Council.
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chair's report
    1. Burgess Reports
    2. European Research Index in Humanities (ERIH)
    3. Whitaker's Almanack
    4. All-Party Parliamentary Group for Classics
  5. Secretary's report
  6. Treasurer's report.
  7. Statistics
  8. Bulletin
  9. Presentation by Prof. Tony McEnery, Director of Research, AHRC
    1. i. Transition from AHRB to AHRC
    2. ii. Future Directions
    3. Discussion
  10. Subject Centre & Advisory Panel
  11. Date of next meeting
  12. AOB.
Present were: Graham Shipley (Chair, Leicester), James Robson (Open, SC), Janet Huskinson (Open), Tessa Rajak (Reading), Nick Lowe (RHUL, SC), Fiona Hobden (Liverpool), Emma Griffiths (Manchester), Adrian Hollis (Oxford), Tony Spawforth (Newcastle), Alan Salt (Subject Centre, Durham), Malcolm Schofield (Cambridge), Christopher Rowe (Durham/Subject Centre), Richard Williams (Subject Centre), Carlotta Dionisotti (KCL), Charlotte Behr (Roehampton), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton, SC). Emma Stafford (Leeds), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow, SC), Ken Dowden (Birmingham), Daniel Orrells (Warwick), Christopher Carey (UCL), Judith Mossman (Nottingham), Robert Parker (Oxford), Jonathan Powell (RHUL, SC), Anastasia Bakogianni (ICS), Tony McEnery (Lancaster, AHRC), John Morgan (Swansea, SC), Philip Burton (Birmingham, SC, Secretary)

1. Apologies

Apologies were received from Dr Patty Baker (Kent, SC, Treasurer), Ms Gill Partington (JACT, SC), Dr Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter, SC), Prof. Greg Woolf (St Andrews), Dr Paul Millett (Cambridge, SC)

2. Minutes of Last Council.

These were accepted.

3. Matters arising not covered in the agenda.

  1. Item 3. Teacher training at Strathclyde. The post has now been filled; this is a one-year post, potentially renewable; there are seven students on the course.
  2. Item 8. 1. Survey of Employability. It was confirmed that is the same as Ardle MacMahon's survey. There was discussion at the last Council of this issue. Prof. Rowe raised concerns about the timescale for Dr MacMahon's project. Prof. Rowe urged that more participation would be needed from all institutions if this was to be completed within Dr MacMahon's timescale. This might be a suitable matter for CUCD expenditure, which might be matched by the Subject Centre. Electronic publication of the output was urged.

    It was suggested that there should be some kind of rolling supplement, perhaps in the form of annual publication of figures for employability, occasionally to be fleshed out with figures. A suitable home for this might be C-Web, though there have been concerns about the time taken for C-Web to be developed. Alternatively, the Subject Centre could provide a home.
  3. Item 4.1. Both JACT Ancient History and Classical Studies panels now have chairs. This was welcomed.
  4. Item 8.2. Survey on teaching classical languages. Questions such as credit ratings, coursebooks, resources, and so on were perennial. James Robson offered to circulate a paper he had written covering credit ratings and the meanings attached to different university 'Levels' of attainment. Prof. Dowden suggested it would be extremely helpful if the Subject Centre addressed this, but Prof. Rowe argued that it was not the Subject Centre's role to draw up guidelines for other departments. Prof. Powell proposed this should be dealt with as a joint CUCD/Subject Centre matter. Prof. Schofield suggested OCR might be interested in certifying any such arrangement. Prof. Rajak suggested that a report might be tabled from the Standing Committee.

4. Chair's report.

i. Burgess Reports

The Burgess Committee reports had been published and sent out for reports. One concerns credits across the UK, the other the classification of degrees. There was considerable unease about the proposal to classify degress simply as Fail, Pass, Distinction, with detailed transcripts, information from 'personal development plans', and so on. Employers were attached to the distinction between Upper and Lower Seconds, which most institutions who had commented wished to see maintained.

Prof. Carey welcomed improved 'granulation' from transcripts, and expressed the hope that our response would not be entirely negative; though information on items in modules could be excessively detailed. Transcripts had their value, and could eventually drive out degree classifications. The Burgess Committee's intention not to increase administrative workload was noted and welcomed.

Prof. Rajak felt that transcripts should be welcomed. Prof. Shipley suggested the that distinction between Third and Lower Second and/or Third and Pass degree could be abolished. Some universities did not, in any case, have Pass degrees.

Prof. Dowden felt that the Upper Second/Lower Second distinction was outmoded and tended to be treated with too much respect by employers. Prof. Mossman observed that if this distinction were to be abolished, another would come to take its place.

Prof. Dionisotti did not see employers in classics being especially interested in transcripts in a non-vocational subject, preferring simply to look at class of degree; it may be more useful to identify transferable skills.

Prof. Schofield felt we should not let ourselves be defined in terms of transferable skills; though Prof. Shipley felt that university reports of students' performance should give weight to both transferable and non-transferable varieties.

Prof. Carey observed that he routinely commented on details of students' performance in references, and felt that transcripts would make this easier and more transparent.

Prof. Shipley observed that grade-point average plus position in cohort frequently produced litigation in the US; the Upper Second/Lower Second distinction was not absolute, but did reflect a real estimation of differences between students.

ii. European Research Index in Humanities (ERIH)

This initiative is run by the European Science Foundation. There was a classics panel, chaired by Claudia Antonetti, with Richard Hunter as one member. It is analogous to AHRC's initiative on classification of journals. This is likely to be influential, and worth engaging with. By next summer, the various panels should grade journals into three classes, according to their input. If CUCD and other subject bodies did not engage with this, we may lose our influence on the subject. It is, however, not yet clear what the impact of this initiative will be.

iii. Whitaker's Almanack

As reported in Chair's Report in Bulletin, the CUCD now has an entry in Whitaker's Almanack, placed between Council of Christians and Jews, and Counsel and Care.

iv. All-Party Parliamentary Group for Classics

Arising from March's reception, an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Classics has now been formed and had its first meeting. The officers of this committee range across the main parties and are of both genders and various ages. This would last for this period of this parliament, after which it would have to be reconstituted.

5. Secretary's report

including elections.

Drs Patty Baker (Treasurer), Philip Burton (Secretary), and Susanna Phillippo had all completed their three-year term on the Standing Committee. Dr Baker and Dr Phillippo were elected for another term. Dr Burton demitted and Dr Bruce Gibson was elected to serve as Secretary.

6. Treasurer's report.

The current balance stood at £3870.94.

7. Statistics

These were as per the Bulletin. The aggregate trends were encouraging, especially in 'modern classics' and joint degrees. All contributors were to be thanked.

The following questions were raised in discussion.

  1. Should data on Continuing Education be provided?

  2. How did figures in Classics compare to figures in other subjects, and was the Classics growth proportionate? Would it be possible to include data on UCAS applications? How were the definitions of 'traditional' and 'modern' classics being interpreted at different institutions?
  3. Prof. Carey observed that in his institution there was a downward pressure on student recruitment, as undergraduate teaching was not seen as financially rewarding compared to other activities; and that this was likely to be, or become, the case elsewhere.

8. Bulletin

The Chair welcomed the publication of the new Bulletin, and congratulated the Editor, Dr McHardy, and thanked Dr Lowe for handling the Web publication. Any submissions for Bulletin for next year would be welcome.

9. Presentation by Prof. Tony McEnery, Director of Research, AHRC, and discussion

i. Transition from AHRB to AHRC

The AHRB was conceived as an interim body, having evolved from the Humanities Research Board. Council status brough advantages; there were bodies where Research Councils met, where the AHRC would now participate. AHRC are funded by Department of Trade and Industry and the Office of Science and Technology (OST) rather than by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Some years ago, the research councils were funded through the Department for Education and Skills; this had been a small priority for the Department. There was now a ring-fenced pot of money for the Research Councils.

The Research Councils were now subjects to governmental Comprehensive Spending Review. The 2007 Review meant that the Council had to bid for all its funding, with no assumptions made about this. As a charity the AHRB was very much HE focused. The AHRC's association with Office of Science and Technology gave it a wider brief. The OST has broad strategic aims, and the better the AHRC could align itself with these, the more likely it was to be successful in gaining funds (for example, in field of religious studies or globalization). Globalization was a case in point; the ancient empires offered potential historical case-studies in cycles of globalization. The OST and DTI had been very receptive to such initiatives

Types of changes were heralded by 2004's Strategic Review and Delivery Plan. The AHRC was committed to leaving the majority of funding in responsive mode, rather than defining in advance 'strategic' initiatives. Individuals, teams, and postgraduates were all funded; a greater proportion of the AHRC's budget went to PGs than of any other Research Council. This meant that more funding was needed for this purpose, an argument accepted by the DTI. The AHRC had, however, launched strategic initiatives in the fields of Landscapes and Diasporas, to which the attention of classicists was drawn. There was enhanced training for each postgradute and each postdoctoral researcher, and more postdocs.

Increasing emphasis was given to awards outside HE. Researchers were encouraged to engage through museums, galleries, and so on. Some major exhibitions have been largely funded trhough the AHRC. There was also engagement with the creative industries - design, fine art, etc. The Council had a Royal Charter, according to which they should generally provide greater outreach into the community.

In terms of research budget, responsive mode budget would increase 2005-2007 from £32m to £48m. A greater proportion of Research Council money was being won.

ii. Future Directions

The AHRC was trying to push success rates on responsive mode collaborative research applications up to 30% (from 16-22%). The Director, Prof. Philip Esler, was promoting Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, according to which knowledge transfer would be funded through a series of fellowships, running 1-3 years. 'Knowledge' and 'transfer' could be broadly defined, and was not confined to traditional academic research. These should be imaginative but realistic; expertise at e. g. secondary school level would be useful if a new 'A'' Level textbook were envisaged. There would be a revision of the Resource Enhancement Programme. This has been reviewed recently. Some major issues were addressed, notably those of sustainability of resources. On the PG side, Prof. Rowe had collaborated on a report which was due for consideration early in New Year.

Overseas collaborations had not been part of the Council's activities so far, but these were under active consideration. Fellowships to visit the Library of Congress had been a success. Formal US/UK collaborations would be sought. Links with Turkey were also being pursued, of clear interest to classicists. Overseas engagements would be formally reviewed in early 2006. These were likely to take the form of bilateral arrangements with specific countries.

Cross-Council initiatives were relatively few to date, but some new; the Library of Congress initiative had been developed in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Council, for instance. Negotiations were ongoing with the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council), and likewise with Medical Research Council.

Discussion

Prof. Shipley on behalf of the CUCD welcomed the AHRC's existence.

10. Subject Centre & Advisory Panel

(Item chaired by Prof. Rowe.)

The Subject Centre had money; it had also a half-time project officer in Dr Richard Williams, plus one day per week of a PA's time. The Subject Centre had disposable £15000. Most of the money is spent by management in Glasgow. There were, therefore, resources available for teaching and learning in Classics. The Subject Centre would like to make contact with HoDs and discover priorities in the field (as opposed to the HEA's centre in York). The money was there to be spent.

The website (www.hca.heacademy.ac.uk) did not contain much useable resources as yet. There was not yet a continuous call for projects, or criteria for such projects. However, it did have rich possibilities and potential for collaboration with e. g. C-Web.

Contacts with HoDs

It was planned to set up regular exchange of emails on priorities and directions. This would not take the form of subject centre contacts, which might result in 'ghettoization' of subject centre. But the subject centre also sought contact with front-line classicists, without resorting to bulk email; chairs of teaching and learning committees (TLCs) were seen also as appropriate points of contact. The CUCD and its SC were seen as particularly important points of contact. The second point of contact was the Advisory Panel, consisting of around twelve people, showing a reason spread of institutions and interests. This met in September, where it was decided to consist less of delegates of organizations and more those involved in teaching and learning. Prof. Rowe invited suggestions for people who are actively involved in this field. Meetings would be held twice a year, to coincide with Classical Association conference and (perhaps) Council of University Classical Departments. The Chair of the Advisory Panel sat on Advisory Group in Glasgow, as part of History/Classics/Archaeology tripartite group.

Minutes of last meeting included statement from Dr David Fitzpatrick covering three issues:

  1. Professional accreditation (training of young lecturers);
  2. information-gathering exercise on descriptors (now a matter for decision and acting);
  3. language learning levels really goes with the preceding.

The Subject Centre did not wish to appear unduly prescriptive, but could help classicist and departments under pressure from their institutions to adopt practises not appropriate to the discipline. It could also help economize on staff time, in acting as a clearing-house for information, practise, and de facto benchmarking.

Employability

was clearly an important issue, already raised under Classics in the Marketplace II. Subject centres were being asked to be involved in these areas. Important also was the question of regional networks; the meeting in London of postgraduates involved in teaching was inevitably prohibitive for many away from London. Next year two such events would be organized, one in the North and one in the South; perhaps also two similar events for new lecturers.

There were already examples of regional networks, especially in Scotland, where there was the annual St Andrews/Glasgow/Edinburgh (STAGE) day. Similar events could be held for staff - and indeed were already in place in History. The Subject Centre would be happy to support existing events, as well as organizing its own. A panel was planned on publication and intellectual property at the CA Conference. Suggestions would be welcomed on subjects for debate.

Discussion

11. Date of next meeting

11th November 2006 (TBC).

12. AOB.

Benchmarking. After benchmarking group had decided only small alterations were necessary. There was no wish to produce a Masters benchmark statement. In the light of comments received, the benchmarking group were asked to draft a Masters statement. Matter referred to next SC.
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