[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the thirty-eighth meeting of Council

Saturday, 11th November, 2006, 11.05 a.m.

Room NG16, Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, London.

  1. Two minutes' Silence
  2. Apologies
  3. Minutes of the Last Council
  4. Matters arising
    1. Item 3. Strathclyde
    2. Item 9. AHRC (Discussion)
  5. Chair's Report
  6. All-Party Parliamentary Group in Classics
  7. Institute of Classical Studies and the Joint Library.
  8. Future of the CUCD.
  9. Temporary Lecturers.
  10. Subject Centre.
  11. Statistics
  12. Secretary's Business
    1. Message from Peter Jones
    2. Vote of Thanks for the Chair
  13. Elections to Standing Committee
  14. CUCD Bulletin
  15. Treasurer's Report
  16. Any Other Business

Present: Graham Shipley (Chair, Leicester), Bruce Gibson (Secretary, Liverpool), Patty Baker (Treasurer, Kent), Charlotte Behr (Roehampton), James Clackson (Cambridge), Armand D'Angour (Oxford), Ken Dowden (Birmingham), Mike Edwards (Director, ICS, SC), Andrew Erskine (Edinburgh), Edward Harris (Durham), Duncan Kennedy (Bristol), Helen King (Reading), Nick Lowe (Webmaster, RHUL), Judith Mossman (Nottingham), Zahra Newby (Warwick), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow, SC), Jonathan Powell (RHUL, SC), James Robson (Open, SC), Christopher Rowe (Subject Centre, Durham), Robert Sharples (UCL), Stephen Todd (Manchester), Shaun Tougher (Cardiff), Michael Trapp (KCL).

In attendance: Michael Fallon, MP (All-Party Parliamentary Group for Classics), Chris Carey (UCL).


1. Two minutes' Silence

Silence for Remembrance Day was informally observed before the start of the meeting at 11.05 am.

2. Apologies

Apologies were received from: Roger Brock (Leeds), Ceri Davies (Swansea), Keith Hopwood (Lampeter), Peter Jones (Co-ordinating Committee for Classics), Paul Millett (Cambridge), John Morgan (Swansea), Greg Woolf (St Andrews).

3. Minutes of the Last Council

It was noted that Andrew Erskine (Edinburgh) had been present at the 2005 meeting. Various minor corrections were also recorded, and the minutes were accepted.

4. Matters arising

i) Item 3. Strathclyde

Dr Panayotakis reported that i) the PGCE course in Classics was not running in 2006-7, ii) that Ronald Knox (Glasgow) had written to the Principal of Glasgow University urging that pressure for the course to continue be maintained, and iii) that the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh were considering a joint initiative to save teacher training in Classics in Scotland, though the outcome of these deliberations was uncertain.

ii) Item 9. AHRC (Discussion)

The Chair noted with deep regret that the British School at Athens had applied for but had not been granted 'Academic Analogue Status' by the AHRC.

5. Chair's Report

The Chair reported on points that had arisen since the last SC meeting in October 2006.

Consultations. The Chair had sent responses both to the Burgess Committee concerning proposals for a new system of classification of degrees, and to the AHRC in relation to their consultation on PGR funding. He also reported that RCUK had just initiated a consultation on the cost and efficiency of peer review mechanisms for research funding applications. The background to this had been a survey investigating the costs of peer review (measured in the report at £196 million per annum), especially when measured in terms of full economic costing. RCUK was not seeking to lay down rules for every Research Council. Amongst the options being considered for reducing the burden of peer review were i) 'consolidation' of awards towards larger and/or longer grants, ii) the use of institutional quotas, either for all institutions or those which had particularly poor success rates, iii) a limit to the resubmission and recycling of proposals, and iv) the introduction of an outline bid stage for responsive grant schemes. The Chair noted that there could be difficulties for Arts subjects. In brief discussion which followed, Prof. Carey offered guarded welcome to the use of an outline stage, but expressed caution with regard to the other options, while the Chair noted that in Classics small grants were very important, and affirmed his opposition to institutional quotas. ACTION: BJG to pass on the RCUK consultation to the new Chair.

6. All-Party Parliamentary Group in Classics

The Chair welcomed the Group's support for the subject and invited Mr Fallon to address the meeting.

Mr Fallon thanked CUCD for their invitation to attend Council. Whereas Classics had received sporadic attention in Parliament since 1983, as in 1987 with discussions over its role in the national curriculum, and more recently with concern over the AQA examination board's approach to classical subjects, a group was needed whose purpose would be to defend the interests of the various classics communities in the UK. The All-Parliamentary group had some 20-25 members, drawn from both Houses, and also included figures from beyond Westminster. A good model for Classics was the All-Parliamentary Group for Archaeology, which was very active, with meetings every two months, strong links with heritage bodies and local government, and an involvement in public policy decisions, and also on issues such as planning schemes for Stonehenge, and the protection of antiquities in Iraq.

The issues currently occupying the Classics group were not so directly relevant to Universities, with the exception of the fate of research councils in the next spending review. Examples of the concerns currently being addressed by the Classics group included the Cambridge Latin Course, teacher training in Classics, and the OCR marking of GCSE exams. A common theme was that of the survival of Classics in the state system of school education. The materials for teaching classical subjects were already there, as was interest (as reflected in the encouraging response to the classical participation in the language exhibition recently held at Olympia), but the opportunities needed to be provided for Classics to breathe. PGCE places were therefore very important. It would be necessary to fight on issues such as the definition of languages (so that Latin and Greek were included), if Alan Johnson was indeed going to put languages back into schools in a serious way. It was essential that Classics had a central voice in such debates.

Discussion then followed:

Prof. Shipley thanked Mr Fallon for stimulating a good discussion. CUCD would be looking forward to further involvement with the All-Parliamentary Group.

7. Institute of Classical Studies and the Joint Library.

The Chair gave a report on recent developments. The Hellenic Society Council had met on 8 November, and had voted to go to the KCL building at Drury Lane, if it were viable, which would mean leaving with the Hellenic and Roman Societies' books, some two thirds of the total collection, mainly comprising monographs and journals, with the University of London's books (mainly reference) being left behind. It was very unlikely that the VC of the University of London would allow the ICS or any of its books to move out of Senate House. KCL was not seeking to set up a rival Institute, so that the break-up of the library was now a distinct possibility, which CUCD had always opposed. It appeared that the Hellenic Society's vote had not been a stratagem, but the consequence of a breakdown in trust, which militated against the likelihood of any successful working relationship between the Societies and the University in the future. The Hellenic Society was committed to fundraising on a large scale. The Chair suggested that CUCD should give its support to the ICS, whose publishing concerns and seminars were in any case tied into the School of Advanced Study (SAS).

Prof. Edwards commented that the viability of the move to accommodation rented from King's depended on the successful renegotiation of their lease on the Drury Lane building, which was due to expire in 2015. In financial terms, the Treasurer of the Hellenic Society had indicated that it would actually be cheaper to remain in Malet Street, where space was being charged at £120/ m2 (indexed with inflation), while the cost in Drury Lane would be £70/ m2 initially, rising to some £215/m2 after three years. Either outcome would produce a deficit on the basis of current projections of the Societies' finances. A major obstacle to the Societies' remaining in Senate House was the issue of management, where there seemed to be very little likelihood of the Director of the ICS regaining the former degree of managerial control over the running of the Library. The Hellenic Society was arguing that it could not cede control of its resources, even though in the past the Director of the ICS had in practice had control over their library holdings. A new governance structure of the University was currently being set up, which involved the Heads of the Colleges at the highest level; at the next level down would be a group which would include the Dean of the SAS, and at least two of the Directors of its Institutes; this might offer some way forward, though it would not be possible to guarantee to the Societies that the Director of the ICS would always sit on this body.

Discussion then followed:

At the close of the discussion, it was agreed that Prof. Shipley should write to the Societies, to Prof. Edwards, and to the VC, urging the preservation of a unified collection and of the ICS. ACTION: GS

8. Future of the CUCD.

The Chair opened discussion of the purpose and resourcing of the CUCD. He drew attention to the increasing workload of the Chair, and argued for the possibility of some kind of teaching buyout (perhaps a module), and the possibility of increased secretarial assistance. The trade-off to this might well be an increase in subscriptions.

The Treasurer explained the various levels of subscription that were currently being applied to member institutions

Dr Newby asked what departments might expect to receive in return for any increase in subscriptions.

Prof. Rowe commented that there might well be a case for support for the Chair, though the financing of such support might in practice not be so easy to arrange.

Prof. Powell observed that not all classical departments were replete with funds, though the role of the Chair was clearly becoming more important. It would be wise to involve the incoming Chair in these discussions.

The Secretary reported on an e-mail which he had received from Prof. Woolf, who had sent apologies to the meeting. Prof. Woolf had noted that any buyout from teaching would need to be cleared with the Chair's institution, which might in practice make it harder to secure willing candidates. He also suggested that there could be savings which might accrue from having the CUCD Bulletin as an electronic publication. Pressure on the Chair might be eased if the Presidents of other classical bodies such as JACT, the Roman and Hellenic Societies, and the Classical Association considered the possibility of joint responses to consultations, and if there were to be more delegation of duties by the Chair to other SC members. He had expressed caution about the use of part-time secretarial support at the Chair's institution, but had suggested that there might be opportunities for sharing of resources with the Classical Association and JACT.

9. Temporary Lecturers.

The Chair commended to the Council the documents they had received from Dr Steven Green (Leeds) which had been previously tabled at the SC meeting in June. Dr Green's initial e-mail message to the CLASSICISTS e-mail list had generated a wide range of feedback which he had compiled for CUCD. The Chair observed that it was important for CUCD to consider the often sensitive issues involved in the appointment and subsequent management of temporary staff. It would be valuable if Personnel / HR departments could be encouraged towards better practice, a suggestion that was supported by Prof. Dowden.

Discussion then followed.

10. Subject Centre.

Prof. Rowe referred members of the Council to the SC minutes for the meeting of 14 October, which contained much information on recent events. He chose to highlight the following points:

  1. The Subject Centre was very involved in Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) initiatives. Eight separate events had been organised around the country for Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) and new lecturers, including occasions in London, Birmingham, and Edinburgh (Jan, 2007).
  2. The creation of networks was a major area of activity, especially in smaller fields such as Roman Art, and neo-Latin.
  3. Small Grants would be continuing: there would be another requests for bids for grants of up to £3000. Two Small Grants had recently been awarded.
  4. The Subject Centre was also taking an active role in encouraging future Classics teachers. There had also been involvement in such areas as the 16-19 curriculum. Dr Robson had drafted a document which would give information regarding the options available to those seeking a career in teaching.
  5. Co-ordination between various classical bodies was an important issue. The Director intended to set up a meeting, and to take up Mr Fallon's point about the need for a map of the Classics environment within the UK. This would link in with existing plans to replace Classics in the Marketplace.
  6. On the issue of regional sessions on classics teaching, the Director was concerned about the need to get people to go and attend. It might be better to go after captive audiences within their own institution.

11. Statistics

  1. Prof. Rowe reported that he and Dr Millett had not yet had the chance to talk concerning how CUCD should collect its statistics. This was nevertheless a separate issue from the need for CUCD departments to be informed about what kinds of courses were being run. CUCD's existing statistics provided a snapshot, but there was still much uncertainty over the kinds of teaching that were actually going into degrees with similar names but quite different kinds of actual content. The SC needed to consider how it might improve its statistics, especially as there were now striking differences between what might be called traditional and new Classics degrees.
  2. Prof. Shipley noted that the CUCD Bulletin was not yet available in print form, and therefore commented on this year's statistics for the benefit of those who had not been able to see the online version. There had been an upward trend in numbers, with a 6.5% rise in numbers for all classical degree courses. The student-staff ratio had improved globally to an average of 13.9, though there was of course much variation. The clearest division lay between language and non-language based courses. Students in Combined Arts programmes were now a very numerous and important constituent amongst the classical student body. The Chair reported that Dr Millett was aware of SC's concerns about whether to refine the questions asked; two possible ways forward were a) a modified version of the present version which allowed for statistical continuity, or b) an additional consultation exercise.
  3. Prof. Dowden commented on the different ways of counting which were available. It would be regrettable to lose backward compatibility with existing batches of statistics.
  4. Prof. Todd emphasised the importance of year-on-year consistency in how departments reported their own data.
  5. Prof. Rowe remarked that it was vital to know the answers to questions such as how solid was the position of language teaching. CUCD statistics in their current form often hid important information such as the amount of time (in modular terms) which students spent on language work.
  6. Prof. Powell commented that language courses typically had more hours of actual instruction.
  7. Dr Newby added that it was also important to differentiate between the statistics for beginners and for more advanced language work.
  8. Prof. Shipley suggested that some kind of global figure on language would be useful, especially if combined with some more detailed profiling.
  9. Prof. Todd said that it was also important to take into account language teaching offered to other students, such as MA candidates in non-classical degrees.
  10. Prof. Dowden noted that there were difficulties in asking for further information. It was less likely that people would respond, or that the information would be consistent enough to be useful in statistical terms. Though there were many who still acted as if it was still in the 1980s, in terms of the range of degrees offered, it was vital to realise that classical degrees now existed over a wider and more fluid spectrum.
  11. Prof. Powell asked how any additional statistics would be used.
  12. Dr Lowe alluded to Dr Millett's article in the new Bulletin, and his remarks on the difficulties involved in securing statistical returns from departments. There was also some evidence that existing CUCD statistics were already in some sense in the public domain.
  13. Prof. Dowden suggested that there might be some kind of press release linked to the collection of annual statistics.
  14. Dr Clackson noted that CUCD statistics could often be of use internally within an institution.
  15. Prof. Powell emphasised the need to avoid anything which would encourage league tables: the ability of institutions to make comparisons on the basis of even more detailed statistics might prove dangerous.
  16. Prof. Carey suggested that one possibility might be to have intermittent requests for additional information from departments.
  17. Prof. Powell replied that any kind of ad hoc questionnaire would be less likely to generate responses than a single global questionnaire.
  18. Prof. Todd noted that, for subject banding, it would be useful to know if figures on languages were high.
  19. Dr Lowe observed that CUCD statistics at present offered a neat snapshot that was useful for other subjects, and indeed for the outside world.
  20. Prof. Powell commented that their role was particularly important, especially as statistics produced by Universities regarding their own activities were invariably unsound.

Prof. Shipley concluded the discussion with the suggestion that this section of the minutes should be drawn to the attention of the Statistics Officer, with a view to taking matters forward. ACTION: BG

12. Secretary's Business

i) Message from Peter Jones

The Secretary reported a message which he had received from Peter Jones to the Council. Dr Jones thanked CUCD departments for their assistance in making the Friends of Classics' 'Potential Teacher' scheme such a great success. There were nearly 40 applications for the bursaries and the directors of the four summer schools involved – Bryanston, Durham, King's London and Lampeter – were extremely pleased with the quality and enthusiasm of the successful applicants, as were the pupils. Bryanston had already indicated its intention to participate in the scheme 2007. Advertising for the scheme would go out earlier (in January, closing date in February), and Friends hoped that departments will advertise the scheme with the same efficiency as last year.

Dr Jones also reported that Classics had been represented for the first time at the recent three-day Language Show held in Olympia (Nov 3-5). It was a very great success, the Classics stand being probably the busiest of them all. 800 people took away information packs, and the CLC in particular did a roaring business with many schools wanting to start Latin. It was particularly gratifying that so many otherwise neutral participants went out of their way to express their pleasure at seeing Classics represented. It is intended to repeat the experience next year. Thanks were due in particular to Anna Bayraktar (JACT), David Parsons (ARLT, whose idea it was), Will Griffiths (CLC) and Jeannie Cohen (Friends of Classics), and all those who helped to work the stand during the three days.

Dr Robson gave further information on the Language Show to the Council. He noted that the event had been expensive, and asked whether CUCD might be involved in offering support. The Chair suggested that this could be considered at the next SC meeting. ACTION: BG (to note for agenda)

ii) Vote of Thanks for the Chair

The Secretary proposed a vote of thanks for Prof. Shipley, noting the extraordinary amount of effort he had put into his duties, and his effective leadership during what had been difficult times. The motion was unanimously endorsed.

13. Elections to Standing Committee

Dr Panayotakis reported on the 2006 process of nominations of candidates. There were three ordinary vacancies, and also a vacancy for the Chair of CUCD. Nominations had been submitted as follows: for the Chair of CUCD, Prof. Robin Osborne (Cambridge), nominated by Glasgow and seconded by Liverpool; for the three ordinary vacancies, Dr Elena Isayev (Exeter), nominated by the Open University and seconded by Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, Prof. Paul Millett (Cambridge), nominated by Liverpool and seconded by Roehampton, and Prof. John Morgan (Swansea), nominated by Lampeter and seconded by Glasgow. Since the number of vacancies matched the number of candidates, all the candidates were declared elected.

14. CUCD Bulletin

The Chair reported that the Bulletin had not been available to members of the Council, and noted that some departments had been very late in returning the statistics. It was essential for departments to return their statistics much earlier next year. The Bulletin was, however, already printed and would be posted to departments. The Chair commended the hard work of the Editor and the contents of the Bulletin to the meeting.

15. Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer presented her report. There was a healthy balance of £3381.70; the Treasurer commented that it was important to keep a sound reserve of some £1500-2000. There had been more expenses for travel during the year. Two universities were named as non-payers of subscriptions.

16. Any Other Business

The Chair thanked CUCD Contacts and SC members, and the Secretary and the Treasurer, and also the previous Secretary, Philip Burton, for their help and support.

It was agreed that the next meeting of CUCD Council should take place on 10 November 2007 (when JACT were not planning to hold a meeting). The next SC meeting would be on 10 February. The Secretary would write to new members of the SC to advise them. ACTION: BG

The meeting closed with acclamation of the Chair, in token of appreciation for all his efforts for CUCD and for Classics.


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