[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the 119th meeting of Standing Committee

Saturday, 13 October, 2007, 2 p.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
  5. SQA Scottish higher in Classical Greek
  6. Elections
  7. ICS and the Joint Library
  8. Subject Centre / Classics in the Marketplace
  9. Online Classics Gateway
  10. Secretary's Business
  11. Treasurer's Report
  12. Webmaster's Report
  13. Bulletin
  14. Statistics
  15. 14-19 Curriculum
  16. Date of next meeting

Present: Robin Osborne (Cambridge; Chair), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Patty Baker (Kent; Treasurer), Mike Edwards (Director, ICS), Philip Hardie (Cambridge), Elena Isayev (Exeter), Nick Lowe (RHUL; Webmaster), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton; Editor), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow; Elections), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter), Jonathan Powell (RHUL), Susanna Phillippo (Newcastle upon Tyne), James Robson (Open; Languages), Christopher Rowe (Durham; Subject Centre).

1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Paul Millett (Cambridge; Statistics), John Morgan (Swansea), Gill Partington (JACT), John Rich (Nottingham).

2. Minutes of Last meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 9 June 2007 were received and approved.

3. Matters Arising

Item 3: Teacher training: Dr Panayotakis reported that six students were enrolled on the Glasgow course, all taking Classics with one other option. Candidates wishing to be qualified in Latin teaching needed a minimum of 80 credits in Latin; it was expected that one student would be so qualified at the end of the course. The Education Faculty at Glasgow were very enthusiastic about the course.

Item 4: Ancient History A level: an Ancient History syllabus had been published in the last few days. OCR had been in discussions with the Chair, Zahra Newby, and Terry Edwards. The new dispensation might not be entirely ideal, since the emphasis on contemporary sources which had been fostered by JACT since the 1960s was now less prominent. Nevertheless, the survival of the qualification was welcomed, even if the need to ensure full consultation with university departments was still a problematic issue.

Item 7: Language Show: Dr Robson reported that he had attended a meeting on 5th October. The publicity leaflet was being re-edited, with due mention of all Classics departments. As had been previously agreed, CUCD would be supporting the Classics presence at this year's event (2-4 November) at Olympia. Prof. Rowe additionally noted that a number of other Universities had entered clearing this year using classical course codes: Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Bradford, Hertfordshire, and Cliff College, an affiliate of the University of Sheffield. It was suggested that it might be useful for CUCD to make contact with these institutions to include them within the wider UK HE Classics community.

4. Chair's Report

i) Asset languages: the Chair reported that he had had several responses to his circulation in July regarding the possibility of asset languages being used at university level to provide standardised language qualifications. There had been some concerns from classicists, and it was unclear whether all Teacher Training institutions in Classics would wish to take part. Since OCR was only interested in a take-up of 10000 or more, it seemed that this idea would not being going further.

ii) Temporary lecturers. The draft protocol document prepared by the Chair and Secretary was tabled. In initial discussion, it was noted that the purpose of the document was aspirational, and that, even if some suggestions were unlikely to win favour from HR departments, it was still important to encourage good practice in dealing with temporary lecturers, both in member departments of CUCD, and more widely, through diffusion of the agreed CUCD protocol to other UK subject associations. It was also noted that there was a new working party jointly organised with the Subject Centre, aimed at providing improved support for new lecturers. Members of the SC agreed on improvements to the draft text, and there were also valuable comments which had been sent electronically by Prof. Rich. It was agreed that the Chair would circulate a revised draft, prior to tabling of the document at the November Council.

iii) AHRC review of panel and college membership: the Chair had attended a meeting with the AHRC in Bristol in July. The aim of the review was to enable the AHRC to respond more rapidly and more flexibly, so that weaker research grant proposals might be weeded out more swiftly, while stronger proposals would be fast-tracked, and it had been suggested that the current panel stage of reviewing would be downgraded in importance, with most weight attached to the referee's report and the comments of the assigned college member. The SC expressed some unease at whether these changes would be effective, especially in the light of concerns about the uneven and inconsistent quality of comment on initial proposals. The AHRC Council had agreed these changes in September, and Prof. Powell would be attending a meeting in London with the AHRC on behalf of CUCD.

iv) ERIH project: Prof. Gregory Hutchinson (Oxford) had given provisional agreement to serving as the 'discipline expert' for Classics. The Chair had recently received an unhelpful reply to his earlier letter expressing concern about the ERIH project to the AHRC, which failed to address the concerns of CUCD and its members. It was agreed that it was important to continue to encourage the AHRC to address the concerns of the UK subject associations, and that a co-ordinated strong response on the matter would be desirable.

5. SQA Scottish higher in Classical Greek

Concern was expressed over as yet unconfirmed reports which had reached both CUCD and JACT to the effect that the provision of this subject would be reviewed with the possibility of withdrawal, with the result that provision of Greek in Scottish state schools would be likely to disappear.

6. Elections

Dr Panayotakis presented his election document (which included a request for seconders) for approval, and it was agreed that the Secretary would circulate it to departments. For the first time in some years, it appeared that there would be a contested election.

7. ICS and the Joint Library

The Director reported on the current state of affairs. Though the Hellenic and Roman Societies had decided at their AGMs not to move out, formal agreement between them and the University was likely to be delayed, in the light of difficulties with building work in the South Block. Though listed building consent had been granted, the original proposal for a separate Joint Library entrance from the second floor to the premises on the third floor appeared to be in some doubt, since Hannah Walker, a planning officer from Camden Borough Council had indicated in her 'Officer Delegated Report' in the planning section of the Council's website that access to the Joint Library would be from the fourth floor, and thus through Senate House library. Quite apart from the lack of a distinct entrance for the Joint Library, this scheme would either leave the library insecure or require the blocking of the main staircase of the South Block, to which English Heritage would be likely to object. The Director was not alone in thinking that the new entrance arrangements would also fall foul of the Disability Discrimination Act. The Director had taken up these issues with the Project Manager and received assurances that the new entrance would be built; he had also suggested that these difficulties could be met through a return to the arrangements in place prior to the temporary move to the North Block, but it was very unlikely that the University could be persuaded to agree to this. The Director would be meeting the Dean of the SAS, and also, if necessary, with Camden Council in the future.

If there was a satisfactory solution to these problems, it was likely that the return to South Block would take place around Christmas 2008, though with an extensive period of ongoing disruption. There was some anxiety as to whether acceptable accommodation would be made available in the South Block to JACT, the CA, and the BSA.

With regard to the current arrangements in North Block, it was noted that there were difficulties with persons walking through the Classics area in order to access Senate House library, with possible security issues as well. The University's Librarian had requested the provision of a photocopier on the third floor.

It was reported that HEFCE's triple review of SAS, library provision, and the FEC component had not yet been published, though reporting to HEFCE was expected at the end of November. The SAS element of the review had apparently given the University grounds for what it called 'modified optimism'. It was unclear whether the review of library provision had been written.

The SC expressed its continuing support for the Director and for the ICS.

8. Subject Centre / Classics in the Marketplace

Prof. Rowe tabled a pair of 'Narrative Reports' detailing the CSC's activities in 2006-7, along with a preliminary list of projected events and activities in 2007-8. He noted again that most expenditure went on staffing costs, which made the outcomes of independent review of the Subject Centre even more important. Prof. Rowe also tabled a letter he was sending to the Director of the ICS, requesting funding for the 'Mapping' project. The project, at an anticipated cost of £18,000, would provide detailed coverage of classics provision in the UK (and perhaps in Ireland) at all levels. If CSC's own finances were ameliorated in the light of the Subject Centre review, CSC would contribute some funding of its own. The 'Mapping' project was a fundamental part of CSC's activities, and was for the time being a more pressing concern than 'Classics in the Marketplace' (though that, Prof. Rowe hoped, would follow immediately; for this second project support would be sought from Friends of Classics and from CUCD). The importance of proper statistical analysis, rather than the contingencies of anecdote, was noted.

9. Online Classics Gateway

James Robson reported that he had had a recent meeting with Elizabeth Belcher (Classics Outreach Officer, Oxford) regarding the proposed Classics Gateway as a database for the larger community of those interested in Classics. It was important to ensure that detailed planning took place. It was reported that there had also been discussion of 'Classics for All' (of which the Gateway might be the first stage) at the JACT meeting earlier in the day.

It was agreed that CUCD should give its support, which might in due course include a financial element.

10. Secretary's Business

The Secretary reported that he had been approached by the Public Policy Group from LSE, who were undertaking a research project for the British Academy, and had asked for classicists to help provide them with instances where classicists had impacted in such areas as government and public policy. A website would be set up in due course, and the Secretary undertook to draw it to the attention of CUCD members as soon as he was alerted. It was recognised that such issues of 'knowledge transfer' were becoming increasingly important.

11. Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer reported that the current balance stood at £3815.45. Some six institutions had not yet paid their subscriptions, and there would be further attempts to clarify the situation with regard to Belfast. It was noted that Southampton had apparently sent in some statistics to Dr Millett.

12. Webmaster's Report

The Webmaster noted that the website was up to date, and that he would update details on external examiners in due course.

13. Bulletin

The Editor reported that articles from Steve Green (Leeds) and Helen King (Reading) had been received, while other contributions were still awaited. Printing would take place in Roehampton.

14. Statistics

The Chair, reporting on behalf of Dr Millett, noted that all the data had been entered. There was little difference between this year's figures and last year's.

15. 14-19 Curriculum

There was a brief discussion of some of the new curriculum developments that would be taking place with the introduction of the 14-19 Curriculum. It was noted that new specialised Diplomas would be introduced, and that such elements as the extended project would be of great interest to university admissions officer. The lack of widespread coverage of these changes (especially in the press) was noted with some regret.

16. Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting should take place on Saturday, 9 February 2008, at 1.30 pm.


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