[Council of University Classical Departments]

First draft of minutes of the 122nd meeting of the Standing Committee

Saturday 11 October 2008, 1 pm

Room 273, Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, London WC1E 7HU.

  1. 1. Apologies for absence
  2. 2. Minutes of last meeting
  3. 3. ICS and the Joint Library
  4. 4. Matters arising
  5. 5. Chair's report
  6. 6. JACS coding
  7. 7. Elections
  8. 8. Classics Subject Centre
  9. 9. Treasurer's report
  10. 10. Webmaster
  11. 11. Bulletin
  12. 12. Statistics
  13. 13. A-HUG (Arts and Humanities User Group)
  14. 14. Departing members of the Standing Committee
  15. 15. Date of next meeting

Present: Robin Osborne (Cambridge; Chair), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Patty Baker (Kent; Treasurer), Mike Edwards (Director, ICS), Elena Isayev (Exeter), Nick Lowe (RHUL; Webmaster), John Morgan (Swansea), Costas Panayotakis (Glasgow; Elections), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter), Jonathan Powell (RHUL), Christopher Rowe (Durham; Subject Centre).

1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Steven Green (Leeds), Peter Jones (Friends of Classics), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton; Editor of the Bulletin), Paul Millett (Cambridge; Statistics), Gill Partington (JACT), Christopher Pelling (Oxford), Susanna Phillippo (Newcastle upon Tyne), James Robson (Open; Languages).

2. Minutes of Last meeting.

The minutes of the meeting of 21 June 2008 were received and approved, with the proviso that changes be made to Item 4, iii (see below under Matters Arising).

3. ICS and the Joint Library

The Director reported on developments:

  1. The University of London had changed its mind with regard to space for the ICS and the library in the South Block. Space in the basement would not now be available for the Library, which would be housed in its entirety on the third floor, with former teaching rooms being used to make up for the lost space in the basement. There would in fact be a slight increase in the library's available shelving. The entrance to the library would be in the lift lobby. The Roman and Hellenic Societies still had to signal their agreement.
  2. It was unlikely that the move back to the South Block would take place before March. The move, when it came, would probably take a week to complete.
  3. Leaks relating to the review of the Senate House Library indicated that it was likely that there would either be a takeover by another institution, or a wholesale downsizing of that library, with a decision likely to come by Christmas. The Institute of Historical Research was particularly vulnerable, since around half of the collection was housed in SHL. The future of the libraries of the School of Advanced Study was as yet uncertain. There was some risk that, under a new dispensation, there would be an expectation that the holdings of the Library would be available to undergraduates. The Director would be holding meetings with the University's librarian, and the Standing Committee agreed to monitor any developments which would threaten the independence of the SAS and the ICS.

4. Matters Arising

Item 6: Roehampton Employability Event. Prof. Powell reported that this had been a very useful and successful event. The Secretary reported that the Editor had indicated that four of the presentations would be published in the CUCD Bulletin. Further events were being planned in the future, including a panel at the Glasgow Classical Association in 2009.

Item 4, iii: Teacher Training in the UK. JACT Council had not so far called for any action from CUCD. After discussion, it was agreed to emend the minutes of the June meeting, with the inclusion of the word 'still' and some indication that these discussions had been longstanding. [The suggested text for the relevant section of the minute would now read: 'Members of SC noted their concerns at the perception that teacher training institutions still appeared, in spite of longstanding discussion on the issue, to envisage language preparation solely in terms of A-level qualifications, rather than taking into account qualifications in classical languages achieved at university level by candidates for teacher training.'] The Chair agreed to discuss these matters with Stephen Hunt, who had replaced Bob Lister at Cambridge.

Item 10, ii: MA Benchmarking. It was agreed that there would be further discussion at the November Council, but noted that the particular difficulties which had led to the suggestion had been solved by other means.

5. Chair's Report

  1. AHRC Panels. A letter had been sent to Prof. Shearer West in September about the new panel structures, which appeared to be grouping a very wide range of subjects. The Chair's letter had expressed concern that the new system permitted neither a generic overview nor the serious subject-specific expertise that had characterised the previous dispensation. No reply had been received.
  2. Home Office Points Based Migration System. A member department had initially reported local obstruction from the institution's HR department to the shortlisting of non-EEA applicants in the light of the new government directive. CUCD had investigated practice in Oxford and Cambridge where it was apparent that a less draconian interpretation of the policy was being applied. The member department had subsequently reported that their institution's policy towards non-EEA applicants had softened.

6. JACS Coding

A letter drafted by Prof. Powell on behalf of CUCD was tabled and approved. It was observed that the Subject Centre's mapping project would provide information that had been much more finely tuned, and it was agreed that the project should be drawn to the attention of HESA. The Chair agreed to make necessary emendations and to send the revised letter.

7. Elections

The Elections Officer tabled a document relating to the forthcoming elections, which was approved: there were four candidates who had been proposed for the four vacancies. Dr Panayotakis thanked SC members for their support for his work in this area during the last six years.

8. Classics Subject Centre

The Director circulated a document giving an update of Classics Subject Centre activities. He drew attention to the following issues:

  1. Contracts had now been signed relating to the move of the Subject Centre from Glasgow to Liverpool, after some earlier anxieties relating to guarantees and liabilities. Dr Anthony Sinclair (Liverpool) was now the HCA Subject Centre Director. An Administrator was also now in place in Liverpool. A Subject Director had also been appointed in History (Dr Sarah Richardson, Warwick). There was still some uncertainty relating to the transfer of monies from Glasgow.
  2. The Mapping Project had now progressed one third of the way towards completion: James McIntyre was making excellent progress. Details of 1350 modules at 13 HEIs had been collected thus far. It was less clear whether the coverage of FE and CE provision would be so consistent, as provision was often ephemeral. The question of how the information should be presented and used remained an important one.
  3. The Director noted that Diplomas were in development in Language, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science. Details of the consultation process were available on the Subject Centre website. The issue of where Classics might be placed was a vexed one. There was a strong perception abroad that Languages would be the only home for the subject, but members of the SC were of the view that the Humanities and Social Sciences Diploma was likely to be a more appropriate location, if indeed it proved to be impossible to be in more than one Diploma. In discussion, it was noted that the structure of the Diploma was as yet unclear.
  4. While Classics and Archaeology were both in a good position, there was some uncertainty as to the future role of History in the HCA Subject Centre. If History were to request its own Subject Centre, there was some anxiety that Classics and Archaeology might be pushed in the direction of Languages and Area Studies. Prof. Rowe and Dr Sinclair were in discussions with the Academy to prevent this outcome. Members of the SC indicated their readiness to offer any CUCD support that might be necessary, and the importance of continuing good relations with History and Archaeology was underlined.

9. Treasurer's Report

The current balance stood at £5018.25. This had been one of the best years ever for payment of subscriptions. Roehampton had requested £282 towards production costs for the 2007 Bulletin, but there had as yet been no request for the CUCD contribution towards the recent employability event. It was noted that CUCD had agreed to contribute towards Classics in the Marketplace in due course, and members of the SC were happy to indicate their willingness to honour this commitment in the future.

10. Webmaster

The Webmaster indicated that the website was up to date.

11. Bulletin

On behalf of the Editor, the Secretary reported that preparations were in hand.

12. Statistics

On behalf of the Statistics Officer, the Secretary reported that all departments had sent in their statistical return for the year, and that the report was ready for submission to the Bulletin. The potential for individual departmental returns to be made available to the Mapping Project was raised, and it was agreed that this was a good idea, subject to individual departments giving permission for the information to be so used.

13. A-HUG (Arts and Humanities User Group)

The Chair reported that securing agreement from other associations to join had been a slow process, but that he remained hopeful that A-HUG would be more than simply a focus for censure of the AHRC. Nevertheless, of the three initiatives recently put before members of A-HUG, there had only been widespread agreement in favour of action in connection with the European Research Index in the Humanities (ERIH), where a letter had been sent to the AHRC on behalf of A-HUG. There had been little willingness to act on CUCD-drafted letters on issues of university governance and on THES world rankings, and the decision had been taken not to send these letters. In discussion it was agreed that the moment to write to the THES had now passed, and that a letter from CUCD alone on governance (which was an issue which was not specific to the classics community) was unlikely to carry much weight. Dr Isayev indicated her intention to take the issue forward independently, and was thanked by members of the SC for agreeing to do this.

In discussion, it was noted that it had emerged at a meeting of the CA journals board that the editors of CQ, CR, and G&R would be willing to join any wider classical move against ERIH. The importance of securing a wider European dimension to any such move was noted. CUCD would co-ordinate with Prof. Brian McGing (TCD, Editor of Hermathena) in contacting editors of classical journals more widely to co-ordinate action. It was also observed that there were signs that the government was pulling back from a wholly metrics-based approach to whatever succeeded RAE 2008 in the Humanities.

14. Departing members of the Standing Committee

The SC expressed warm appreciation and thanks to those of its members who would be leaving the SC after the November elections (Patty Baker, Costas Panayotakis, Susanna Philippo).

15. Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Standing Committee would be held at 2 pm on 14 February 2009. The Council would meet on 15 November 2008, as already agreed.

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