[Council of University Classical Departments]

First draft of minutes of the 123rd meeting of the Standing Committee

Saturday 14 February 2009, 2 pm

Room NG16, Senate House, University of London, London WC1E 7HU.

  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of Last meeting.
  3. Chair's Report
  4. ICS and the Joint Library
  5. JACS coding
  6. Language classes and levels of ability
  7. WJEC Level 2 Latin
  8. College Greek Exam in the United States
  9. Subject Centre Business
  10. Secretary's Business
  11. Treasurer' Report
  12. Webmaster
  13. Bulletin
  14. Statistics
  15. Date of next meeting

Present: Robin Osborne (Cambridge; Chair), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Adam Bartley (Kent; Treasurer), Steven Green (Leeds), Nick Lowe (RHUL; Webmaster), Jonathan Powell (RHUL), James Robson (Open; Languages), Christopher Rowe (Durham; Subject Centre), Jakob Wisse (Newcastle upon Tyne), Matthew Wright (Exeter).

1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Mike Edwards (Director, ICS), Elena Isayev (Exeter), Peter Jones (Friends of Classics), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton; Editor of the Bulletin), John Morgan (Swansea), Gill Partington (JACT), Christopher Pelling (Oxford), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter).

2. Minutes of Last meeting.

The minutes of the meeting of 11 October 2008 were received and approved. There were no separate matters arising not covered under other agenda items below. New members (Dr Bartley, Dr Wisse, Dr Wright) were welcomed to the SC.

3. Chair's Report

  1. AHRC Panels. After prompting from the Chair, the letter sent to Prof. Shearer West in September 2008 about the new panel structures had finally produced a reply, which offered more in the way of apology than substance. There was some unease that various elements of the wider discipline of Classics might be disadvantaged under the new dispensation. It was agreed that CUCD would have to monitor how the new system worked in practice.

  2. AHRC Research Leave. The replacement of the current Research Leave Scheme had been announced. The new scheme had broad similarities with the current system. It had been implied that early career researchers might expect to benefit. It was also noted that institutions would no longer be obliged to provide matching periods of internal leave, which might have uncertain effects on leave patterns, though there was the suggestion that internal leave was likely to be advantageous.

  3. A-HUG. There was currently little sign that A-HUG was having a significant impact on the deliberations of the AHRC. The Chair had co-ordinated an A-HUG letter to the AHRC when it had been announced that the European Reference Index for the Humanities would no longer employ the A-C categorisation of journals. In response to A-HUG's proposal that subject associations might profitably be involved in the creation of new descriptors, the AHRC had suggested that A-HUG might wish to act alone in representing these concerns of humanities subject associations. A subsequent letter from Prof. Esler had also, however, reserved the right of AHRC to act on behalf of the humanities community when it chose to do so. In view of the demise of the A-C categorisations of journals, it was noted that the possibility of a boycott by classics journals was for the time being less likely. In answer to a question, it was confirmed that the RAE sub-panel for Classics (U of A 59) had not taken ERIH categorisations into account during any of its deliberations.

4. ICS and the Joint Library

The Secretary reported on behalf of the Director who had sent his apologies to the meeting:

  1. Return to South Block. The return to the third floor of the South Block would be taking place around the end of March.

  2. Senate House Library. The University is implementing cuts under its first option, which would involve up to 17.5 FTE redundancies and the disposal of 8 km of shelving. The new Collegiate Council agreed before Christmas that more time should be given to develop options 2 (the SAS proposal to form a Humanities Research library) and 3 (takeover by another institution). The Director had been involved in an ongoing series of meetings with senior members of various colleges. A revised proposal would be submitted by 12 March. A final decision would then be taken by the Council in late March/early April, with a recommendation to the new Board of Trustees, which would meet to take a final decision about the Senate House Library in May. In discussion it was noted that CUCD did need to monitor the situation with Senate House Library, in case there was any effect on the ICS and the Joint Library.

5. JACS coding

A paper had been tabled with the agenda by Dr Isayev, reporting on her discussions with representatives from UCAS and HESA. The proposals were welcomed at the meeting, and had received a favourable response from CUCD contacts. The need to avoid ancient historians being lost to Classics through the V110 coding currently in force was agree by all. Various small modifications were made in the light of combined feedback: it was agreed that the code Q810 should not be used as a JACS code for reception owing to its use already as a UCAS code for Classical Studies; it was agreed that the categorisation of Byzantine history was not helpful as a chronological period, and that ongoing discussions with HESA and UCAS should continue with a view to establishing useful periodisations in history, with ancient history running until the 6th century AD; it was agreed that Q subjects should be divided in a tripartite fashion (Q600/700 Latin/Greek language and literature; Q610/710 purely linguistic elements in Latin/Greek; Q620/720 Latin/Greek literature in translation Ńcourses involving literary texts but with a focus on cultural history might grouped with Classical Studies Q8xx; and it was agreed that the categorisation of ancient philosophy, which currently appeared to be part of the history codes, needed to be checked. Dr Isayev's continuing efforts on behalf of CUCD were welcomed.

6. Language classes and levels of ability

The problem of a member department possibly being prevented by its University from offering beginners' courses at higher levels of progression without separate coding arrangements and learning outcomes was noted. A wide-ranging discussion of practice in various departments ensued, with some instances of languages being viewed as a skill and therefore in some way outside more customary categorisations by level of progression, and other colleagues reporting voluntary decisions by departments not to offer elementary languages at the higher levels. Within a context of pluralism, the general support of CUCD for departments needing to satisfy institutional authorities was affirmed.

7. WJEC Level 2 Latin

The introduction by WJEC of a Level 2 certificate in Latin was welcomed as an opportunity to offer those wanting to take Latin in schools where less resource might be available a qualification equivalent to GCSE (but for which GCSE certification would not be available on technical grounds for some time). Dr Jones' discussion paper was welcomed, and comments in support from other absent members of the SC were also noted. It was agreed that CUCD should actively encourage this new development, and it was suggested that an article on the qualification in the next Bulletin would be very welcome.

8. College Greek Exam in the United States

The papers for this item were received, but it was agreed that the SC would benefit from the advice of Dr McHardy, who had sent apologies, and that consideration of the matter should be deferred until the next meeting.

9. Subject Centre Business

  1. Timing of events. The Classics Subject Centre had sent out a questionnaire, in order to find out what were the most suitable times of the year for holding its activities.

  2. Future of the Classics Subject Centre. Durham would no longer be hosting the CSC after 31 July 2009. An advertisement seeking a new Director would soon be published, with a closing date likely to be no later than April. The new Director would be responsible for appointment of a new CSC team. Current budget for the CSC was £116K, which covered a buyout (0.2 FTE) for the Director's time, other staff costs, and events, publications, and other resources. Overheads were currently in the region of £30K. The Director noted that the preferred outcome might be for the new host department to appoint two 0.5 FTE academic co-ordinators, the remainder of whose time would be assigned to teaching and research in the host department. Members of SC were encouraged to spread the news of the impending advertisement.

  3. Advisory Panel. Prof. Tim Parkin (Manchester) would be taking over from Prof. Greg Woolf (St Andrews) as panel chair.

10. Secretary's Business

  1. Co-options to SC. The Secretary proposed that SC should co-opt the following members: Dr Jones, Dr Lowe, Mrs Partington, Dr Plantinga, Dr Robson, and Prof. Rowe. This was agreed. Co-opted members were thanked for their continuing labours for CUCD.

  2. The Secretary reported on behalf of Dr Jones that the signs were that Diplomas would allow a fairly flexible approach to choice, with the possibility that those taking the Humanities diploma would be able to study of Greek or Latin. Dr Jones had also observed that Latin was now likely to be classed as an official language within the 'Languages' Diploma, and that the title 'Modern Languages' was not likely to be used, and that Latin would be able to count as language provision in a context such as a school's OFSTED inspection. Dr Jones had also noted that the Mayor of London was investigating possibilities for making Latin more available in London schools. All these developments were welcomed.

11. Treasurer' Report

The new Treasurer was welcomed to his post. He reported that the balance currently stood at £4152.12, and additionally encouraged departments to consider changing to the BACS system as a means of paying their subscriptions. A brief discussion of CUCD funds ensued, and it was agreed that the next meeting would consider future levels of subscription, and how CUCD might best use its funds.

12. Webmaster

The Webmaster indicated that the website was essentially up to date.

13. Bulletin

Apart from the decision to consider including an article on WJEC Latin (see item 7 above), there was nothing further to report.

14. Statistics

15. Date of the next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Standing Committee would be held at 2 pm on Saturday 13 June 2009.


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