[Council of University Classical Departments]

First draft of minutes of the 116th meeting of Standing Committee

Saturday, 14th October, 2006, 11 a.m.

Room NG16, 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. All-party Parliamentary Group for Classics
    3. Date of APA/AIA meeting
    4. CA 2007
    5. AHRC meeting with Subject Associations
    6. Preparing Future Faculty
    7. AHRC evening reception
    8. Metrics and the RAE
    9. Burgess Committee
  5. Institute of Classical Studies and the Library
  6. PG funding and the future of Masters degrees
    1. AHRC consultation on block grant partnerships
    2. The future of Masters degrees
  7. Subject Centre
  8. Future of the CUCD
  9. OCR examinations
  10. Temporary Lecturers
  11. CUCD Statistics and Subject Banding
  12. Secretary's Business
  13. Elections
  14. Treasurer's Report
  15. Webmaster's Report
  16. CUCD Bulletin
  17. Benchmarking
  18. November Council meeting
  19. Dates of Meetings
  20. Any Other Business


Present: Graham Shipley (Leicester; Chair), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Patty Baker (Kent; Treasurer), Nick Lowe (RHUL; Webmaster), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton; Editor), Paul Millett (Cambridge; Statistics), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow; Elections), Christopher Rowe (Durham; Subject Centre), Mike Edwards (Director, ICS), Philip Hardie (Cambridge), Gill Partington (JACT), Susanna Phillippo (Newcastle upon Tyne), and Jonathan Powell (RHUL).

1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Peter Jones (Coordinating Committee for Classics), John Morgan (Swansea), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter), John Rich (Nottingham), and James Robson (Open; Languages).

2. Minutes of Last meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 3 June 2006 were received and approved.

3. Matters Arising.

4. Chair's Report

i) Personalia

The Chair congratulated various members of the Standing Committee on achievements and distinctions professional and personal, and thanked those officers who had provided summer cover for him.

ii) All-party Parliamentary Group for Classics

The Chair was urging this grouping to take an active role. He had had a productive meeting in June with Michael Fallon, MP, who would be coming to the Council meeting in November, perhaps with another MP as well. Mr Fallon was in favour of co-ordinating the activities of the All-party group with other classical bodies; it had been suggested that some of their meetings might include classical visiting speakers.

The Chair also reported on correspondence between Mr Fallon and QCA, in relation to concerns that GCSE Latin was being marked more harshly than other subjects; the response of QCA had however been bland and inconclusive.

iii) Date of APA/AIA meeting

The Chair reported that a majority view of members of these organisations had voted in favour of the meeting taking place in early January (as currently), though the old start date of 27 December had attracted not inconsiderable support.

iv) CA 2007

There would be a CUCD panel on publishing, aimed at PG students. It was hoped that there would be no clash with the Subject Centre panel, which would be on Preparing Future Faculty (henceforth 'PFF' in these minutes). There would also be a panel on Innovation in Teaching. ACTION: GS and CJR to co-ordinate.

v) AHRC meeting with Subject Associations

On 14 June, the Chair had attended the AHRC meeting with Subject Associations, where PG funding had been discussed. Notes had been circulated to CUCD contacts and SC members. The Chair had also created a subject association email list, and useful electronic discussions had ensued subsequently.

vi) Preparing Future Faculty

On 22 June, the Chair and Professor Rowe had attended a meeting on PFF organised by Colin Brooks.

vii) AHRC evening reception

On 14 June, the Chair and Dr Robson had attended the AHRC evening reception, and had enjoyed the opportunity to raise the profile of the CUCD.

viii) Metrics and the RAE

The Chair thanked Dr Ireland (Warwick) for attending the HEFCE/AHRC meeting in September concerning the role of metrics in the RAE. Prof. Whitby (Warwick) had held an RAE briefing in September for departments who did not have a member of staff serving on an RAE panel. Some four departments had attended. ACTION: BJG to invite Prof. Harrison (Liverpool) to report on this for CUCD.

The Chair had submitted the CUCD response to the consultations on metrics on 12 October, and thanked Vivienne Hurley of the British Academy for making available their response, and also Prof. Davies (Liverpool) for his help in co-ordinating this. The Chair also thanked the Society of Legal Scholars for allowing him to see their response. The response of CUCD had highlighted areas of major concern, including publication metrics, and also the threat that block grant funding being determined by research income would only serve to entrench existing privilege.

ERIH metrics

It was reported that the AHRC/HEFCE working party had been told to examine other ways of using metrics, though some unease was expressed that this could merely be a prelude to subsequent recourse to ERIH after other methods were found wanting. The Chair reported that allegations that the ARHC had deliberately suppressed classical responses to ERIH were in fact without proper foundation; mistakes had occurred, but all responses had been forwarded unchanged. A paper by Prof. Foxhall (Leicester) would appear in the CUCD Bulletin, arguing for the merits of ERIH as a research tool.

The Chair concluded by noting that all grant-giving panels were invited to give their views of metrics. He was thanked by the SC for his judicious steering of the CUCD response; in reply, Prof. Shipley thanked Professors Heath (Leeds) and Mattingly (Leicester), and others, for their help.

ix) Burgess Committee

Another proposal regarding the classification of UG degrees had been published: responses were being sought by 3 November. The suggested scheme included a simple Pass/Fail classification, which would be integrated with transcript data. There was little sense of previous responses having had any role in the deliberations of the Committee. It was noted that the notion of rankings within a cohort seemed to have been dropped, but the import of the ii.1/ii.2 borderline to employers seemed to have been wholly lost on the Committee. Members of the SC expressed their unease at the specimen examples of classification/transcript documents, and at the unsubstantiated and modish dismissal of the current system of classification as 'not fit for purpose'.

5. Institute of Classical Studies and the Library

The Chair began by noting that he had written to Graeme Davies expressing concern, but that the Vice-Chancellor had failed to reply.

Prof. Edwards then gave an account of the current situation. There was a serious threat to the Institute of Classical Studies and the library. Over the summer, in the light of the discussions between the Hellenic and Roman Societies, and KCL regarding the suggested move to Drury Lane, he had asked the VC 1) to clarify the position of the Institute itself, and 2) to discover the cost for the Societies, should they choose to stay in Senate House. The VC had replied by email in September with a costed proposal for the Societies to remain in Senate House, and had also reiterated that the ICS itself could not move from Senate House, and neither could its books. Thus, if the Societies were to decide to move out, the ICS would remain in Senate House with all its books, approximately one third of the joint library holdings; this situation was likely to continue until 2009/10, when current arrangements for recurrent HEFCE funding of the School of Advanced Study (SAS) would come to an end. It was also, however, unlikely, that the Council of the University of London would not support their VC, especially as other pressures on SAS and its ten Institutes would make it hard for the VC to allow the ICS to move. It was also the case that rumours of the imminent demise of the University of London appeared to be exaggerated.

With regard to the books owned by the two Societies, the situation was exacerbated by the substantial increases in rental which were being proposed by the VC on a basis of Full Economic Costing. Whereas the Societies currently paid 17% of the space costs at a rate of approximately £100/m2 (with some additional contribution to the salaries of the library staff), the new proposal invited them to pay for 65% of the space costs. The initial unofficial costs of the space on the basis of FEC were £500/m2, which would clearly also have implications on JACT and other organisations based in Senate House. Even though the figure of £500/m2 had been discounted to £270/m2 (possibly with a view to undercutting any offer from KCL), the result for the Societies would be an effective rise from their current annual bill of some £80-90,000 to a figure in the order of £260,000 per annum, which was clearly unaffordable.

The consequence was that the Societies were in no position to be able to stay in Senate House on the basis of the current offer from the VC, and that it was likely that some two thirds of the library would move out, probably to KCL. The VC had offered to negotiate, but the Director remained pessimistic about the likely outcome of any negotiations, as it was likely that the Societies would only be able to countenance an increase of around 5% in annual costs. It was also noted that bodies such as JACT and the CA would probably be charged for space at the external rate, on the basis of Full Economic Costing.

Various key meetings would be taking place over the next few weeks. A meeting with the two presidents and the two treasurers of the Societies would take place on 31 October with the VC, just after a joint meeting of the Standing Committee of the two societies on 26 October. The Council of the Hellenic Society would assemble on 9 November, followed by the Council of CUCD on 11 November, and then the Roman Society Council on 14 November. A clearer picture would emerge in the light of these meetings, especially as an exact figure for the offer from KCL to the Societies was still unknown.

In discussion, various possibilities were aired. It was suggested that one negotiating strategy that might be used by the University would be an invitation to the Societies to donate their books in return for being able to stay in Senate House. It was noted that the VC was faced with an audit of space in Senate House by HEFCE as a consequence of his request to HEFCE for extra funding towards infrastructure, and that it was unlikely that there would be much room for manoeuvre in the negotiations, especially as other Institutes were also confronted by the implications of FEC. It was also noted that top-slicing of the ICS budget meant that, if all the library books were to leave Senate House, SAS potentially stood to lose some £350,000 of income. It was unlikely, however, that the Societies would be content with a smaller amount of space; even a bid for half of the existing library space would be prohibitively expensive, especially as the Societies were committed to keeping their books available for members, which would militate against keeping part of the collection in store. It was also suggested that the Societies might attempt to raise money through fundraising in order to replace the third of the collection which would be staying in the ICS. Members of SC pondered how the financing of the KCL offer to the Societies might be arranged; it was not impossible that the University offer of £270/m2 might fail to undercut the offer from KCL.

The Director noted that he was confident that the ICS could continue to run, even without any library at all (not all the Institutes in the SAS have a library). As for the one third of the books which would remain, there were various possibilities:

  1. an approach to the Warburg Institute with a view to combining holdings, which was not deemed likely to succeed;
  2. the books would stay in Senate House, possibly to be integrated with the U of London library;
  3. there might be a campaign, with complete support from the UK Classics community, for the books to go to KCL and rejoin the books which belonged to the Societies.

It was noted that the CUCD should realise that their support for the ICS and the Societies might become contradictory in the future, and that it was important to keep in mind that the interest of University Classics departments might well not coincide with those of the parties most involved. Some pessimism was expressed with regard to the possibility of KCL being able to secure recurrent HEFCE funding for an alternative to the Institute, at least before 2009, and with regard too to the expectations in some quarters that the Societies would easily be able to replicate the current library and its books in their new quarters.

It was agreed that, pending the meetings in the upcoming weeks, the Chair should write to Graeme Davies, urging the need to ensure that the extraordinary resource of the ICS be maintained and enhanced, and warning of the potential for massive academic damage to the University of London and others in the UK classics community, if the library were to be split. The letter was to be copied to interested parties such as Michael Fallon, MP. ACTION: GS.

6. PG funding and the future of Masters degrees

i) AHRC consultation on block grant partnerships

Views were being sought in a consultation exercise: the Chair would respond by 3 November. Great concern was expressed at the possibility that university managements would have more control over the allocation of awards than academic departments, the deleterious consequences of internal rivalries, and the likelihood that those universities which did not receive block grant partnerships would find it virtually impossible to obtain awards in the vastly reduced open competition.

ii) The future of Masters degrees

A paper emailed by Prof. Davies (Liverpool), arguing for the need for two-year programmes of PGT training prior to doctoral research, was discussed. Broad support was offered, and the significance of the implementation of the Bologna agreement in the UK was noted (though some uncertainty existed as to whether the Bologna model might not prefer 4+1+3 years leading to award of a PhD, as opposed to 3+2+3), but some reservations were expressed about the need not to ignore the interests of those students who wished to take a one-year Masters without proceeding to a doctorate, the need to cater for existing constituencies of Masters students from outside the UK who might be affected by a blanket move to 2-year Masters degrees, and the likelihood that funding bodies and indeed individual students would be able to meet the heavier financial demands of two-year programmes. ACTION: GS to prepare a response to AHRC by 3 November.

7. Subject Centre

Prof. Rowe gave a report on developments:

  1. Dr OKell, the new appointment, was settling in well to her post, and devoting much effort to PFF initiatives. Eight separate events in different parts of the UK, from London and Reading through the Midlands to the North-East and Scotland have been co-ordinated, in response to great demand in this area. Graduate teaching assistants were also involved, and there had been collaboration with History and Archaeology.
  2. The Centre was likely to become involved in centrally co-ordinating the supply of elements for the PG Certificate, and was in negotiations with SEDA. SEDA had been sent details of such elements as teaching ancient languages, but no reply had so far been received.
  3. While there had previously been some problems with the Advisory Board, matters had now been regularised, with a properly constituted Advisory Board due to come into being in December. The Advisory Panel had met, and wanted 'Classics in the Market Place' to be replaced by a statistical survey. The Subject Centre was in contact with Peter Jones and the Friends of Classics, and the CUCD; the resource implications would not be great.
  4. Statistics. There was currently an HEA agenda of organising Subject Reviews. The Director suggested that CUCD statistics needed to ask new questions, revealing what is actually being taught, and how. The Statistics Officer welcomed these ideas, but expressed some caution with regard to adding further questions to the annual survey to departments.
  5. A further call had been issued for bids for Small Grant monies. There had been two recent awards to Roehampton and Glasgow. More networks for teachers were being established, of which the Roman Art network was the most recent. The website continued to make progress.
  6. Dr OKell would be visiting departments in order to talk to them and enhance liaison with the Subject Centre.
  7. Prof. Rowe and Dr Robson were putting together a leaflet for those contemplating a career in teaching classics, which would aim to illuminate possible pathways into the profession, and to clarify relevant issues.

The SC congratulated the Director, Dr OKell, and Dr Williams for all their endeavours.

8. Future of the CUCD

The issue of financed support for the Chair (most likely to take the form of some modest teaching relief) was raised, as were the likely implications for subscriptions. It was decided that an email discussion would ensue, to be followed by this item appearing on the agenda for the Council meeting in November. The Chair noted that much of his work for CUCD had been recently concerned with developing links with other bodies, especially other subject associations; it was agreed that these channels needed to be embedded and nurtured.

ACTION: GS (to initiate the email discussion); BJG (to note for Council agenda).

9. OCR examinations

Mrs Partington gave a report on the current uncertain situation with OCR:

OCR had declared that it was still consulting 'stakeholders', though their identity remained opaque. The specifications for Latin, Greek, Classical Civilisation and Ancient History at A level were being rewritten, but how these tasks had been distributed, and to whom, was unknown. Ancient historians were extremely concerned at these developments, especially as it was unclear what OCR was doing with structure and grids, while the content of modules was not clarified. The bland and unhelpful tone of OCR's letter to Prof. Harrison (Liverpool), who had raised strong concerns, was deplored, while the decision to move Roman Britain from the Ancient History specifications into Classical Civilisation provoked great unease, as centres at present taking Roman Britain in Ancient History and wishing to continue to do so would have a 'Classics' rather than an Ancient History A Level. Mrs Partington however welcomed the decision to defer adoption of these measures until 2008, rather than 2007.

JACT were holding meetings on 11 November, while there would be meetings of Ancient History and Classical Civilisation sub-committees after the Council meeting on that date. OCR had been asked to provide further information for these meetings. JACT was also setting up a new Examinations Committee to deal with OCR and AQA which would collate responses from the individual subject. It was hoped that speaking with one voice would give more voice to any comments that JACT might make.

10. Temporary Lecturers

A brief discussion took place, during which it was noted that temporary contracts should properly include research time, as with a permanent member of staff. The work of Dr Green (Leeds) in highlighting this area was again welcomed, and it was decided to add this item to the agenda of the November Council.

ACTION: BJG (to note for the Council agenda, and to circulate the original documents)

11. CUCD Statistics and Subject Banding

  1. The Statistics Officer noted that five departments had failed to send in returns. Referring to the earlier discussion that had taken place in relation to the Subject Centre, he suggested that it would be a good idea to ask departments which questions were helpful, though major changes to the questionnaire might entail loss of statistical continuity. It was decided that Prof. Millett and Prof. Rowe should take this matter forward, and that the issue would be revisited at the November Council. ACTION: PCM, CJR (to confer on how the questionnaire might be designed); BJG (to note for the Council agenda)
  2. Some concerns were expressed over the logging of individuals taking other subjects who elected to take one or two modules in classical subjects; practice of reporting departments apparently varied in this area.

  3. Subject Banding. Prof. Powell and Dr Robson had discussed the topic, and were in favour of adding extra questions to next year's Statistics which would give a sense of the national picture. It was noted, for example, that Classics degrees were quite differently constituted in various institutions.

12. Secretary's Business

The SC were reminded that the Secretary would be tabling paper copies of SC minutes at the November Council.

13. Elections

The draft election document written by Dr Panayotakis was welcomed and approved for circulation. Since the number of candidates was the same as the number of vacancies, there would not be a vote on 11 November, providing that seconding departments were found.

14. Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer reported that the financial situation was healthy, with £3381.70 in the account. Returns of subscriptions had been very good, though institutions which still had monies outstanding were named. Two institutions which had not paid for two years were to be warned that their membership of CUCD might lapse. The Treasurer noted that any replacement teaching for the Chair would require a rise in the subscription.

15. Webmaster's Report

The Webmaster reported on recent updates, including the email list of other subject associations.

16. CUCD Bulletin

The Editor noted that the deadline for final copy would be about 10 days before the November Council. Pieces in hand dealt with such topics as ERIH and metrics (with the possibility of AHRC submitting a response), and an article by Dr Vasunia (Reading) on classics in the US and in the UK. The Chair's report and the Statistics were awaited; the Bulletin might be longer than last year's.

Final copy would be processed in Leicester. There was some discussion of distribution, and it was noted that copy would also be published on the website. The SC thanked Dr McHardy for all her work.

17. Benchmarking

Prof. Osborne (Cambridge) had agreed to co-ordinate a response to the QAA review of revised benchmarks. It appeared that the issue of M level benchmarks was for the moment dormant.

18. November Council meeting

Michael Fallon, MP would attend on 11 November, probably with a parliamentary colleague from another party; the issue of what the All-Parliamentary Group might do would be discussed.

19. Dates of Meetings

  1. Members were reminded of the 11 November meeting, which members of SC were allowed to attend in addition to any representative from their department (though only the official representatives could vote).
  2. With regard to the next SC meeting, the Chair suggested that holding meetings at intervals of four, rather than three or five, months was salutary. The 10 February was provisionally agreed on, though this date would need to be checked with the next Chair.
ACTION: BJG to write to the next Chair to confirm the date of the meeting.

20. Any Other Business

Dr Phillippo noted that she would be acting as the Newcastle contact, during the absence of Prof. van der Eijk in the United States.

ACTION: BJG to note for circulation lists.


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