[Council of University Classical Departments]

Minutes of the 132nd meeting of the Standing Committee

Saturday 8 October 2011, 2 pm

Senate House, University of London

  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of the last meeting
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chair's Report
  5. JACS Coding and the National Student Survey (NSS)
  6. Contact Hours
  7. Classics Subject Centre
  8. CUCD Education Committee
  9. Institute of Classical Studies and the Joint Library
  10. Treasurer's Business
  11. CUCD Elections
  12. Secretary's Business: CUCD Constitution paragraphs 11 and 12
  13. Webmaster
  14. CUCD Bulletin
  15. Statistics
  16. 2012 Olympics
  17. Date of Next Meeting

Present: Robin Osborne (Cambridge; Chair), Bruce Gibson (Liverpool; Secretary), Edith Hall (RHUL), Nick Lowe (RHUL, Webmaster), Chris Pelling (Oxford), James Robson (Open; Languages), Ulrike Roth (Edinburgh; Statistics), Catherine Steel (Glasgow; CUCD Education Committee Chair), Edmund Thomas (Durham), Stephen Todd (Manchester), Jakob Wisse (Newcastle).

1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Miriam Leonard (UCL; Treasurer), Alan Beale (JACT), Susan Deacy (Roehampton; Bulletin Editor), Mike Edwards (Director, ICS), Steven Green (Leeds; Elections), Elena Isayev (Exeter), Peter Jones (Friends of Classics), Matthew Wright (Exeter).

2. Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 18 June 2011 were received and approved.

3. Matters arising

Item 3, ii: English Baccalaureate: The Chair, who had attended JACT's discussions on this subject earlier in the day, reported that there was now an unfortunate impasse, as there would be no modifications to the English Baccalaureate in the next couple of years or so. Some schools were being forced to change provision from Classical Civilisation to Ancient History, and there were likewise problems with the WJEC qualification in Latin, which was not on the list of approved qualifications.

4. Chair's Report

i) Classics at Royal Holloway. The Chair and colleagues from RHUL reported on the threat to Classics at RHUL which had arisen since the last SC meeting in June, and on the strong response from the RHUL department, CUCD and the wider subject community. The College's management had slightly modified earlier proposals made at the end of June, and was now proposing four redundancies instead of six, and had agreed to retain the BA degree in Classics, whilst proposing to form a School from History and Classics. The recent Council meeting at RHUL (5 October) had agreed to defer a decision until November on the future of Classics. In discussion it was noted that the College's emphasis on AAB students needed to be addressed: it was agreed that CUCD would ask UCAS for data on AAB students in classical subjects, and that CUCD would also canvass institutional contacts with a view to seeing which departments (if any) were seeking to expand their AAB numbers. The Standing Committee affirmed its continued support for the Department's ongoing campaign.

ii) REF 2014. The Treasurer had returned CUCD's response to the REF consultation. In discussion, it was noted that the quality definitions and the guidance in the draft documentation on double-weighting of outputs were not wholly clear.

5. JACS Coding and the National Student Survey (NSS)

Prof. Todd reported on his discussions with Manchester's NSS administrator. The grouping of degree programmes on the NSS website is determined nationally by a HEFCE committee, which was why students reading Ancient History (which has a V-code on the JACS system) appear with History rather than with Classical programmes (which are coded Q600+). It was at this stage unclear whether the HEFCE committee had the discretion to re-group (e.g.) Ancient History with Classical subjects while retaining the current codings, or whether such re-grouping would be possible only if Ancient History were to adopt a Q-code: Prof. Todd was warmly thanked for agreeing to make further enquiries ahead of the November meeting of Council. It was noted that Universities were already able to ask for additional own fields of their own choosing to be added to the database, e.g. to record the department in which each student was based (which is why some standing committee members had reported having seen departmental as well as JACS-based statistics), but that this additional information was simply for internal purposes and would not appear on the NSS website.

6. Contact Hours

Prof. Steel's document reporting on contact hours across CUCD departments and the Chair's draft CUCD statement on contact hours were warmly received. In discussion it was noted that a careful statement on language teaching was essential, in order to allow the maximum flexibility for departments which might be put under pressure by their institutions for offering high numbers of contact hours. Revised versions of the documents would be tabled for consideration by the CUCD Council meeting in November.

7. Classics Subject Centre

Prof. Steel reported that her work as Director had come to an end in July, and that Dr Francis was wrapping up the last Subject Centre events which would run until January 2012; employability data would soon become available. Various University-based activities in Continuing Professional Development were being organised in several CUCD departments.

8. CUCD Education Committee

Prof. Steel agreed to table a document on future directions for activity which would continue the legacy of the Classics Subject Centre for consideration by CUCD Council in November. It was agreed that outreach was becoming more and more important, and that CUCD might have a role in giving guidance to departments on outreach activities.

9. Institute of Classical Studies and the Joint Library

The Chair reported on behalf of the Director. Prof. Edwards would be leaving on 31 December 2011, to take up a Chair at Trinity St David. The future of the Directorship was somewhat unclear in the light of the HEFCE review of the School of Advanced Study which would not report until the second half of 2012. It was agreed that CUCD would write to the School of Advanced Study to ask for more information on the School's plans for the Institute.

10. Treasurer's Business

The Secretary reported on behalf of the Treasurer that the current balance was £5263. In discussion it was noted that CUCD was likely to use these funds in support of the CUCD Education Committee's activities.

11. CUCD Elections

The Secretary reported on behalf of Dr Green on the candidates for election who had been duly nominated (Prof. Steel, for Secretary, and Prof. Wisse, for re-election as an ordinary member of Standing Committee). Only one candidate (Prof. Wisse) had come forward for nomination as an ordinary member of SC at the close of nominations, although there were three such vacancies. In view of this, it was agreed nominations would be sought for Dr Deacy and Dr Thomas, who had been co-opted onto SC after the November 2010 Council meeting, so that they could go forward as ordinary members of the SC with three-year terms to run from November 2011.

12. Secretary's Business: CUCD Constitution paragraphs 11 and 12

The Secretary tabled a document amending paragraphs 11 and 12 of the CUCD constitution, dealing with arrangements for reporting on CUCD matters. The aim of the revisions was to update the provision that every item of CUCD business should technically be sent to the UK CLASSICISTS (which includes many classicists from outside the UK) email list in its entirety. It was agreed to propose that the following updated paragraphs be adopted in the CUCD constitution by the Council in November 2011:

"11. Formal communications from the Council officers will be normally be sent by email to one individual Contact in each member institution, normally the Head of Department or equivalent, or the Head of one department where there are several; in the latter case it will be for the institution to decide who the Contact will be and to ensure that messages are passed on to all departments. Heads of Department may delegate the role of Contact to another member of the departmental staff. Where comment is required, as with Council responses to consultation documents from national bodies, individual staff members shall be asked to channel responses through their institution's Contact, so that there will be only one response from each institution."

"12. Minutes of Standing Committee meetings shall be circulated to the Committee and to institutional Contacts. Confirmed minutes shall be posted on the Web site. Council minutes shall be circulated to all institutional Contacts and also posted on the Web site."

13. Webmaster

The Webmaster reported that the CUCD website would in due course host material which had previously been hosted by the Classics Subject Centre.

14. CUCD Bulletin

The Secretary reported on behalf of the Editor that preparations for publication of the Bulletin were going ahead very satisfactorily.

15. Statistics

The Statistics Officer noted that it had been harder to obtain the statistics from member departments this year. It was noted that accurate statistics were even more important for classics departments at a time of uncertainty within the HE sector, and it was agreed to raise this issue at the November Council meeting.

16. 2012 Olympics

Dr Robson reported that the Open University would be organising an Olympic website.

17. Date of Next Meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting of Standing Committee would take place on Saturday, 11 February at 2 pm.