[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the 125th meeting of the Standing Committee

Saturday 17 October 2009, 2 pm

Stewart House, 32 Russell Square, University of London, London WC1E 7HU.

  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Welcome to New Member
  3. Minutes of Last meeting.
  4. Matters arising
  5. Chair's Report
  6. HEFCE Consultation on the Research Excellence Framework
  7. Classics for All
  8. ICS and the Joint Library
  9. HEFCE banding and language teaching
  10. Subject Centre Business
  11. Treasurer's Report
  12. Elections
  13. Webmaster
  14. CUCD Bulletin
  15. Statistics
  16. Any other business
  17. Date of next meeting

Present: Robin Osborne (Cambridge; Chair), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Adam Bartley (Kent; Treasurer), Steven Green (Leeds), Elena Isayev (Exeter), Peter Jones (Friends of Classics), Nick Lowe (RHUL; Webmaster), Christopher Pelling (Oxford), Jonathan Powell (RHUL), James Robson (Open; Languages), Catherine Steel (Glasgow; Subject Centre), Jakob Wisse (Newcastle upon Tyne).

1. Apologies for absence

Apologies were received from Mike Edwards (Director, ICS), Fiona McHardy (Roehampton; Editor of the Bulletin), Paul Millett (Cambridge), John Morgan (Swansea), Mirjam Plantinga (Lampeter), Matthew Wright (Exeter).

2. Welcome to new member

The SC affirmed its warm congratulations to Dr McHardy on the birth of her daughter in September.

3. Minutes of last meeting.

The minutes of the meeting of 13 June 2009 were received and approved.

4. Matters arising

Item 9: Graduate Funding and the AHRC: It was agreed to raise this issue at the November Council, and to look towards generating the necessary statistics on graduates and on sources of funding.

5. Chair's Report

  1. European Reference Index for the Humanities. The recent statement on the ERIH made by the European Science Foundation (ESF) was discussed. It was noted that various research councils (including ESRC within the UK) had commissioned a report (the Scoping Project) on the flaws of various databases for assessing research in the social sciences and humanities but that their response to this seemed to be to launch a new database project to overcome the problems rather than to acknowledge that the problems could not realistically be solved. It was reported that there was already anecdotal evidence that ERIH rankings were being applied in promotions within some institutions in the UK. This, and the academic bullying associated with such practices, was an area which CUCD would need to monitor in the future.
  2. AHRC. It was reported that Professor Philip Esler (St Andrews) had been replaced as Chief Executive of the AHRC by Professor Rick Rylance (Exeter) but that Professor Rylance had yet to respond to communication.

6. HEFCE Consultation on the Research Excellence Framework

A draft CUCD response to this document had been circulated by the Chair prior to the meeting. Suggestions offered before and at the meeting were considered, with a view to a new draft being produced, which would be sent to CUCD Contacts and SC members for further consideration at the November Council, before being returned to HEFCE. In discussion it was noted that any response would need to be written with an eye to a possible change of government in 2010, and that it was important to distinguish the more general category of 'impact' (such as obtains in applications for AHRC funding) from the proposals for specific measuring of impact in the REF. It was agreed that it was important for there to be limits on the number of outputs submitted, to minimise the possibility of bullying of staff in the run-up to any census date. Areas which needed careful planning in the process would include the treatment of Category C (retired) staff and early career researchers. There was broad support for the idea of assessment taking place every ten years. It would also be desirable for co-ordination of the response with other groups in A-HUG. It was noted that an event on impact was being planned by the British Academy and another by the School of Advanced Study in London.

7. Classics for All

Dr Jones reported that Friends of Classics had been working for over two years with JACT to plan an appeal which would be launched in 2010, after an initial private phase of fundraising. Numerous patrons had already indicated their support. One among a number of aims would be to encourage universities to build on some of the existing programmes for outreach that were already in place within the UK, and to offer the possibility of pump-priming funding for those who wished to develop such schemes. There were no plans to duplicate or otherwise interfere with existing programmes for outreach such as those run by the Hellenic and Roman Societies. The SC indicated its full support for Classics for All.

8. ICS and the Joint Library

The Secretary reported on behalf of the Director that the library had now partially reopened in South Block, and that there was every expectation of the library being fully open within a matter of weeks. The SC indicated its gratitude and appreciation of all that the Director had done in leading the Institute through an extremely uncertain period with such success.

9. HEFCE banding and language teaching

It was noted that this would be a significant item on the agenda at the November Council. It was reported that the Scottish Funding Council had recently embarked on substantial revisions to subject banding, which seemed to be leading to a shift towards greater funding of older institutions.

10. Subject Centre business

Professor Steel was welcomed to her first CUCD meeting since her appointment as Classics Subject Centre Director. She reported on the appointment of Dr Sarah Francis as Subject Co-ordinator, based in Liverpool in the same premises as the Archaeology team. It was likely that History (currently based in Warwick) might leave Classics and Archaeology in the medium term. The Director reported that Teaching Development Grants worth up to £5K would be advertised in Classics and Archaeology, and that Classics would also continue with Small Grants worth up to £1K. It was also planned to engage with the HEA's current agenda of looking at quality and standards (which would include external examining), student engagement, and sustainability. The Mapping Project was now coming to an end, and CSC and the ICS (which had part-funded the research) would be addressing possibilities for what to do with the data that had been generated. The CSC was also keen to support and provide advice for any institution wishing to develop the 'Language Boot Camp' concept of intensive language training for research students. The Director noted that this was a time of transition for CSC, amid a wider context of financial uncertainty, with HEFCE likely to be looking for cuts, and the HEA itself being under review, so that it was important for UK classicists to take the opportunity to engage with the Subject Centre at a time when its own future could not yet be guaranteed. In discussion, it was noted with regret that many UK institutions appeared not to value funding generated to support and develop teaching as highly as research funding, and that CSC could play a very valuable role in changing such attitudes.

11. Treasurer's Report

The Treasurer reported a healthy balance of £5590.80. Three department had not yet paid their subscriptions, but reminders were being sent. The SC agreed that it was important to consider how CUCD funding might be used at the November Council.

12. Elections

The Elections Officer reported on the previously circulated document relating to the forthcoming elections: there were five candidates who had been proposed for the three ordinary vacancies, and Professor Osborne was the sole candidate for (re-)election to the Chair. All candidates had been duly seconded, and had submitted election statements.

13. Webmaster

It was reported that the website was up to date.

14 CUCD Bulletin

It was reported that the next copy was on schedule for publication.

15. Statistics

The statistics had recently been completed. The overall picture of the subject was favourable, though there was a fall in research student numbers. Some members of the SC in attendance reported rises in M-level students at their institutions this year.

16. Any other business

It was agreed that the issue of academic bullying should be raised at the meeting of Council.

17. Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting would be on Saturday, 13 February 2010, at 2 pm.


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