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)
These were accepted.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The current balance stood at £3870.94.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prof. Shipley on behalf of the CUCD welcomed the AHRC's existence.
(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.
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:
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.
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.
11th November 2006 (TBC).
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