[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the fortieth meeting of Council

Saturday, 15th November, 2008, 11 a.m.

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

  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of the last Council
  3. Chair's report
  4. Institute of Classical Studies and the Library
  5. Classics Subject Centre (CSC)
  6. MA Benchmarking
  7. RAE 2008
  8. Statistics
  9. Elections
  10. Treasurer's Report
  11. CUCD Bulletin
  12. Coding of degrees
  13. PG Language Training
  14. Date of next meeting

Present: Robin Osborne (Chair, Cambridge), Bruce Gibson (Secretary, Liverpool), Patty Baker (Treasurer, Kent), Andrew Bayliss (Birmingham), Gillian Clark (Bristol), Armand D’Angour (Oxford), Glenys Davies (Edinburgh), Steven Green (Leeds), Elena Isayev (Exeter, SC), Doug Lee (Nottingham), Miriam Leonard (UCL), Nick Lowe (Webmaster, RHUL), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton, SC, Editor of the Bulletin), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow, SC, Elections Officer), Christopher Pelling (Oxford, SC), Phil Perkins (Open), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter, SC), Jonathan Powell (RHUL, SC), James Richardson (Lampeter), Christopher Rowe (Subject Centre, Durham), Ian Rutherford (Reading), Graham Shipley (Leicester), Michael Trapp (KCL), Greg Woolf (St Andrews).

1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from: Mary Beagon (Manchester), Charlotte Behr (Roehampton), Mike Edwards (Director, ICS, SC), Edward Harris (Durham), (UCL), Peter Jones (Co-ordinating Committee for Classics), Paul Millett (Cambridge, SC), John Morgan (Swansea, SC), Gill Partington (JACT), Anne Sheppard (RHUL).

2. Minutes of the last Council (10th November 2007)

These were approved. There were no separate matters arising not covered in other agenda items.

3. Chair's report

  1. Protocol on temporary lecturers. This had been agreed in a final form by the Standing Committee in February, and was now available on the CUCD website.
  2. Equivalent and Lower Qualifications (ELQ). Submissions had been made in protest at the withdrawal of funding in this area, and CUCD had submitted a letter as part of this. It was pleasing to note that the Select Committee had offered some criticism of ministers for their role in this.
  3. AHRC Matters
    1. With regard to the restructuring of Subject Panels, no reply had been received from the AHRC in relation to CUCD's recent letter. It was suggested that the AHRC was itself uncertain on how to proceed in this respect.
    2. A letter had been sent to the AHRC with regard to cuts to PG studentships and the research leave scheme. At the same time, enquiries to the Leverhulme Trust had indicated that there was no desire on the part of Leverhulme to become involved in general PG funding.
    3. European Research Index in the Humanities (ERIH). A meeting had taken place in February, involving some 27 subject associations. The meeting had been unhelpful, but had at least played a part in bringing together subject associations in the new Arts and Humanities User Group (AHUG). A recent AHUG letter about the ERIH had produced an extremely disappointing and casual reply from Prof. Esler. The Chair reported that there were some attempts within the Classics community to organise a boycott of ERIH along the lines taken by many journals in History of Science. Various journals in the UK were reported to have a positive view, if support in Europe as well could be secured. Wider discussion then followed, with a range of views being expressed. Though there was some anxiety about the need to have some involvement in the process, others took the view that while the A and B lists of journals remained in place, the danger of such lists having a role in government use of metrics was too great. It was noted that some University Presses were playing close attention to the issue, especially those that published classical journals. There was also concern about the role of niche journals, and the status of journals in Archaeology, many of which were in the C list.

4. Institute of Classical Studies and the Library

The Secretary reported on behalf of the Director who had sent his apologies to the meeting:
  1. Accommodation. It was likely that the move back to the South Block would take place in March 2009. Though the Library would be entirely housed on the third floor, there would in fact be a slight increase in shelf space compared with previous arrangements in the South Block (there would be a very slight increase in the amount of rolling stacks). It was noted that the arrangement now on offer had been unsuccessfully sought at the time the ICS first moved from Gordon Square to Senate House. There were some anxieties in the Roman and Hellenic Societies as to the projected increases in space costs in the future, and it was also noted that the convergence policies being applied within UoL libraries were continuing to arouse concern.
  2. Review of the Senate House Library. There were various possible outcomes of this process: two schemes of 'refocussing', which would entail cuts, takeover by another institution, and dispersal of the collections. It was unclear how other libraries in the School of Advanced Study would be affected, especially the Institute of Historical Research, much of whose collection was part of the Senate House Library. The V-C of the University of London currently was promoting a period of further consultation, and a working group chaired by the Director was currently seeking to investigate further possibilities, and was due to meet again at the end of November.

5. Classics Subject Centre (CSC)

The Director tabled an update document, and reported on developments within the last year, and on plans for the future:
  1. Future of the Subject Centre. Durham's tenure of the Classics Subject Centre would come to an end in July 2009, so tenders would be sought soon for a new home: departments interested in acting as hosts were invited to contact the Director informally. The overall Subject Centre for History, Classics, and Archaeology had moved to Liverpool, together with the Archaeology section, under the direction of Dr Anthony Sinclair. While History was likely to leave this grouping, Classics and Archaeology would remain together.
  2. Mapping Project. This was well underway, under the stewardship of James McIntyre. The main emphasis would be on the HE sector, since there was no need to duplicate material that was already covered by JACT's archives. The aim would be to examine the current state of Classics at all levels in the British Isles.
  3. Knowledge Transfer and Employability. Knowledge transfer and employability were likely to be forthcoming concerns, and it was agreed to consider knowledge transfer at the next Standing Committee meeting. In discussion, the difficulties of measuring the impact of research were noted, with even the AHRC being unwilling to provide clear examples. The importance of translations as a key form of knowledge transfer within the subject was agreed. The Director informed CUCD that Subject Centre events were being mapped on to the HEA Professional Standards Framework, and that attendance at such events could count e.g. towards membership of the HEA.
  4. Diplomas. The Director noted that greater awareness of Diplomas was needed. Consultations initiated by the Department for Children, Families and Schools were tending to concentrate on individuals, so it was important that JACT continued to act as a source of representative views. The idea had been raised that Greek and Latin might go into the Language Diploma, but the danger was that if they were, they might become identified as the sole elements of ‘Classics’, and separated off from the wider aspects of study of the ancient world (Ancient History, Classical Civilization ...) – which might then, or might not, surface – on their own – in the Humanities and Social Sciences Diploma. One other danger, which seemed to be receding, was that the option for taking A-levels as part of the Diploma might be lost, so threatening the capacity of the Diploma to deliver significant specialist study (e.g. of the languages). In general, Classicists could not afford to ignore Diplomas, as some would begin in 2012. The Secretary reported from Peter Jones that JACT was represented on the Languages and Humanities Committees, and that the Friends of Classics was also represented: recent discussions with Dr Terry Lamb of the Languages Committee had been positive, but it was recognised that the situation for ancient languages was fluid.

CUCD expressed its warm thanks to the Director for all his work for the Subject Centre on behalf of the Classics community.

6. MA Benchmarking

It was noted that the existence of an MA benchmarking statement might be useful for departments who wished to secure internal approval of MA programmes involving language teaching. The importance of even elementary language training as research skills for PG students was agreed. The Standing Committee would return to the issue in a future meeting, with a view to producing a policy statement which would be helpful to member departments. Prof. Powell agreed to draft such a document.

7. RAE 2008

The Chair noted that some general statement on Classics results from CUCD might in certain circumstances be useful in the immediate aftermath of the results. It was noted that positive statements on the strength of UK Classics research in 2001 had been extremely welcome and helpful. It was important for departments to be careful in offering national perspectives on the subject, and any such requests should be channeled to the Chair and Secretary.

8. Statistics

The Chair observed that Dr Millett was delighted that reporting from departments in 2008 had been much more timely than in previous years.

9. Elections

Dr Panayotakis reported that there were four candidates for four vacancies on the Standing Committee: Dr Adam Bartley (Kent, standing for election as Treasurer), Prof. Bruce Gibson (Liverpool, standing for re-election as Secretary), Dr Jakob Wisse (Newcastle), and Dr Matthew Wright (Exeter). All candidates had been duly proposed and seconded, and all were declared elected. The Chair thanked Dr Panayotakis for his splendid work as Elections Officer, and also expressed the thanks of CUCD to all those whose terms on SC were coming to an end.

10. Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer tabled a report giving a breakdown of CUCD expenditure and income in the past year. The current balance stood at £5018.25. Payment was still due for the Roehampton Employability event, which, it was noted, would also feature in the forthcoming Glasgow CA meeting. The Chair noted the healthy state of CUCD funds, and reminded colleagues that there was scope for making use of these resources.

11. CUCD Bulletin

The Editor reported that the journal had been printed at Roehampton. There was an increase in institutions who did not request print copies for their staff. The Editor was thanked for all her work in producing the 2008 Bulletin.

12. Coding of degrees

It was reported that various departments had experienced problems as a result of the National Student Survey treating Ancient History degrees (typically coded as V110) as 'History' rather than 'Classics', or 'Classics and Ancient History', with consequent distortion to the statistics for departments and programmes. It was agreed that departments should contact CUCD if such problems were arising. [Subsequent to the meeting, it was reported that this appeared to be a national problem with the V110 coding.]

13. PG Language Training

Arising from the meeting of the Subject Centre Advisory Board, the CSC Director suggested that it would be timely to consider pooling of resources for the training of PG students in classical languages, along the lines of intensive summer courses operating in the USA and elsewhere. It was noted that many PG students did not have the language skills which they needed. The CSC was considering the possibility of seed-funding for such a scheme. The importance of differentiating between PG training in teaching languages, and the promotion of language skills amongst PG themselves was emphasised. It was agreed that CUCD SC would consider a report from Cressida Ryan on intensive language training.

14. Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the 2009 meeting of Council would take place on Saturday 14 November, at 11 am.


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