[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the 112th meeting of Standing Committee

Saturday, 11th June, 2005, 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. Chair's Report:
    1. Personalia
    2. Reception in Houses of Parliament, March 17th
    3. Future shape of CUCD
    4. Mini-survey on UG applications
    5. AHRC
    6. C-Web
  5. Items for Council (November)
  6. Benchmarking
  7. Fédération internationale des études classiques
  8. Bulletin
  9. CA conference 2006
  10. Secretary's Business
  11. Treasurer's Report.
    1. Warburg and Courtald Institutes
    2. Balance of funds
    3. Preliminary Survey on Retention of Staff and Hiring Trends
  12. Update from Webmaster
  13. Update from Statistics Officer
  14. Classics in the Marketplace II
  15. Subject Centre (formerly LTSN)
  16. Co-ordinating Committee for Classics
  17. Institute of Classical Studies
    1. Collaborative postgraduate research student training
    2. Review of School of Advanced Study
  18. Miscellanea
    1. Business Cards
    2. Whitaker's Almanack
  19. Any other business
  20. Date of next meeting


Present: Graham Shipley (chair), Patty Baker, Philip Burton, Christopher Rowe, James Robson, John Morgan, Susanna Phillippo, Mirjam Plantinga, Costas Panayotakis, Philip Hardie, Jonathan Powell, Paul Millett, Nick Lowe, Fiona McHardy.


1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from John Rich, Peter O'Neill, Gill Partington, Mike Edwards, Peter Jones.


2. Minutes of Last Meeting


3. Matters Arising

It was suggested that this should be treated in connection with a second issue, that of the relationship between University and public exams. James Robson, Philip Burton, and Susanna Phillippo to report. Chris Rowe offered to put this on the agenda for the Subject Centre.


4. Chair's Report

i. Personalia
It was noted with regret that Oliver Lyne and Nan Dunbar had died. Andrew Adonis (who read Classical Mods at Oxford) had been made a Life Peer.
ii. Reception in Houses of Parliament, March 17th
The reception took place and was well attended (150-200 people). Particular thanks to Jean Cohen, Linda Perham, Charlotte North, and Edith Millar. Regrettably LP had not been re-elected; GS had written to thank her and to commiserate. There was talk of the setting-up of an all-party parliamentary group on Classics. One new Classicist MP, Jenny Willott, Lib. Dem. Cardiff Central. The Chair proposed that similar events should be repeated, perhaps once in each Parliament.
iii. Future shape of CUCD
The Chair had spoken to various classicists at the Classical Association conference about the shape and activities of the CUCD. There was a general sense of satisfaction with what the Council did, but some sense that it might take a higher public rôle.

The Institute of Classical Studies had kindly agreed to act as permanent postal address for the CUCD.

It was suggested that there might be formal cross-membership between CA and CUCD Councils. This might, in fact, already be a formal provision for this in the CA constitution. There was general support for this. Action: Philip Burton.

It had already been mooted that CUCD might buy out some secretarial time at the ICS. This was unlikely to happen while the review of the ICS's activity was in progress, but might happen subsequently; Mike Edwards was amenable to this. However, the ICS was already stretched and any purchase of secretarial time would involve costs which would have to be passed on to members. It was agreed that the use of PG help at the Chair's institution for specific purposes would be a more efficient way to proceed.

iv. Mini-survey on UG applications
The picture from most departments was buoyant; only one department reported a drop.
v. AHRC
The Chair had attended a meeting on 7th April of the AHRC with subject associations, a meeting which would be held annually in future.

The Chair had responded on strategic priorities.

Journals exercise. The AHRC maintained that they were obliged to justify to Government that their funds were being well disbursed, but that the proposal for a list of 10 top journals was not wholly well advised. The matter would be revisited by the AHRC in the autumn; this was perhaps not the best means to the end in question.

The Chair had passed on in CUCD's name recommendations for names for the various panels.

vi. C-Web
This appears not to have been updated for 15 months. Charlotte Roueché suggested that as it was mainly funded by the CA, the CUCD should ask the CA for a progress report. The possibility of a PG bursary to maintain the site was still a possibility. Action GS.


5. Items for Council (November)

It was suggested that the CEO of the AHRC might be invited to address the Council.


6. Benchmarking

(Report from Robin Osborne pre-circulated). The Working Party's recommendations were generally welcomed. The Quality Assurance Agency had since contacted the Chair to consult on revision of the benchmark. It was agreed that a) the QAA should be referred to Robin Osborne on the specific suggestions raised, b) that departmental representatives should be consulted on proposed revisions (representatives should asked be asked what use, if any, had been made of the Benchmarking Statement in internal reviews of the subject). The QAA should also be informed of the plans for Classics in the Marketplace II.

Susanna Phillippo would contact Jim Crow on Byzantine Studies and David Ricks on Modern Greek for their views.


7. Fédération internationale des Études classiques

(Philip Hardie to report). In the absence of new information from those involved in FIEC, it was felt there was no persuasive case at this stage for CUCD membership. Philip Hardie, on the programme committee for next year, would continue to update.


8. Bulletin

Barbara Goff and Michael Sharp had kindly agreed to write; Chris Rowe offered an article on Reception. It was agreed also to approach on the possibility of printing Peter Rhodes's valedictory lecture. Tessa Rajak had various spare copies of past issues, which she would pass on to Nick Lowe.


9. CA conference 2006

The possibility was mooted of a CUCD panel at the next CA conference, arising from an offer from Kate Pool (Society of Authors) to take part. Various topics and speakers had been canvassed; perhaps Hilary O'Shea, Richard Stoneman, Michael Sharpe, or John Betts on publishing and author's rights.


10. Secretary's Business

SC membership
Costas Panayotakis, Susanna Phillippo, Patty Baker, and Philip Burton were due to demit. All except Philip Burton were offering to stand again. Nominations would be sought for a Treasurer, Secretary, and two ordinary members of SC; consultation would be made of departmental representations. Seconding is normally be a department other than one's own; they must be received by 1st October.


11. Treasurer's Report.

i. Warburg and Courtald Institutes
W. had agreed, C. was still considering membership of CUCD.


ii. Balance of funds
This currently stood at £2199.27 (provisional accounts were circulated; in the end, no money was need towards the Parliamentary event). New subscriptions would push balance up to around £4000.


iii. Preliminary Survey on Retention of Staff and Hiring Trends.
Eleven institutions (out of 33) had replied to questions on (1) retention of staff, with particular reference to possible difficulties in retaining female staff, and (2) whether the proportion of UK graduates was diminishing.

While the evidence was not conclusive, some concerns were expressed on the first question about the extent to which junior staff were 'protected' from excessive workloads at an early stage in their career (this group now including new parents, usually now older than was the case in the past). Such protection could take the form of lower numbers of contact-hours, or the assigning of teaching duties (e. g. language classes) for which less preparation might be necessary. It was noted that academic staff had in the past often been expected to be at work or at social events at times which were not 'family-friendly'. A shift away from this was occurring in some universities; at the same time, there was some evidence of concern that such policies might work unduly against the interests of members of staff who were not parents.

On the second question, there was a sense among some departments which replied (supported anecdotally by various members of the committee) that UK graduates were becoming rarer on shortlists, especially for junior posts. Various causes were suggested. The number of academic vacancies in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Denmark, all countries with strong classical traditions in schools, had shrunk sharply, thus increasing the supply of candidates. Meanwhile, the study of classical subjects in the state sector in the UK had continued to decline, while the ab initio study of languages at postgraduate level raised familiar problems of 'progression' and 'level descriptors'. At the same time, the combination of low starting salaries and increasing student debt might be making postgraduate work and academic careers less attractive to UK graduates. While there was a welcome for the diverse talents that were being attracted to this country, there was also a concern that UK graduates might be at an undue disadvantage. In particular, UK new PhDs were often significantly younger and less experienced than their continental counterparts. This might be resolved either by longer MA programmes, or by the provision of more postdoctoral fellowships. Each of these, however, posed problems. Under the Bologna accord there was a move to standardize European academic degrees on the 3+1+3-year model traditional in this country; and it was unlikely that further AHRC funds would become available to fund either postdocs or longer Masters. The Chair reported that this concern had been raised by various learned societies at their consultation with the AHRC (see above, item 4.v). It was noted, however, that AHRC-funded students in some universities amounted to no more than 10% of students.

The suggestion for more intense MAs was particularly welcomed. The Bologna accord is trying to standardize European degree courses on the 3+1+3-year model, so this is unlikely to diminish. Various departments noted that various UK shortlists have been entirely non-UK, whether it was too hard for UK students to go on to PhDs (because of the difficulty of funding and relatively low salaries). The British Academy was some years ago consulted on the possibility of a two-year MA, though this would present funding problems. It was noted, however, that AHRC-funded student in some universities amounted to no more than 10% of students. It was noted that UK students probably had less opportunity than other European students to have studied classical languages in state schools. There was a further, familiar difficulty of the difficulty of allowing language teaching within MA courses.

It was notable also that the proportion of women seemed to be rising. Student tuition fees might be another factor. More post-docs, please?


12. Update from Webmaster

A large update is almost complete. Nick Lowe reported there was now a full index of the Bulletin on the Website, as compiled by Graham Shipley. The Webmaster undertook to begin the digitization of back numbers of Bulletin, and would look into buying the domain name cucd.co.uk. The Chair reiterated the CUCD's offer to subsidize a PG assistant for the digitization. Dr Lowe did not feel this would be necessary.


13. Update from Statistics Officer

Statistics were starting to arrive and would be ready in time for the Bulletin.


14. Classics in the Marketplace II

(Susanna Phillippo to report.) Funding is available for this. Dr Ardle MacMahon had been appointed to conduct this work.


15. Subject Centre (formerly LTSN)

(Chris Rowe/Graham Shipley to report). Prof. Rowe had been appointed earlier in the year as Subject Director for Classics in the Subject Centre [Colin Brooks is the Director of the Subject Centre as a whole0.. Prof. Rowe was reviewing what the funding would allow. Under the previous arrangement, the OU had heavily underwritten the work of Lorna Hardwick and her colleagues on the LTSN. Prof. Rowe had emphasized to the Higher Education Academy that Durham would not be able to maintain such levels of support. One fifth of Prof. Rowe's time would be bought out, enabling the appointment of a colleague who would split his/her time between the post of SC Project Officer and a half-time lectureship in the Durham Department of Classics; one fifth of a secretary's time would also be bought out. The LTSN had enjoyed a complex history.


16. Co-ordinating Committee for Classics

A full report had been received at the last meeting.


17. Institute of Classical Studies

i. Collaborative postgraduate research student training
(GS to report.) AHRC-funded pilot project. A research assistant had been appointed (Dr Anastasia Bakogianni) and was visiting all CUCD departments. This would be published soon in a database. It was envisaged that the ICS would act as repository and circulator of information on PG training more generally. The ICS had also encouraged students to submit thesis titles to a list of theses in progress. An event on Reception would be organized by Lorna Hardwick (OU).

The regional representatives were Tom Harrison, Philip Perkins, and Lucy Grigg.

ii. Review of School of Advanced Study
The Chair had written to Martin Harris, who was conducting the review. A draft of this review would be out for consultation soon and the CUCD would be consulted at that stage.


18. Miscellanea

i. Business Cards
The Chair had ordered business cards with the Chair's name and title.
ii. Whitaker's Almanack
Covered under Chair's Business.


19. Any other business

The Queen's Birthday Honours list contained no classicists or ancient historians, though the anthropologist Jack Goody had been honoured. The Chair encouraged members to identify suitable candidates and put them forward (see http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/ceremonial/).


20. Date of next meeting

15th October.


The meeting closed at 1.30 p.m.


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