The figures for students studying Classical subjects in British Universities once again are encouraging. The numbers in the category All Honours Students in Classics Departments has risen both in terms of individuals and FTEs (Full Time Equivalents), the figure in brackets. (Eight students doing an eighth of a degree course are the full time equivalent of one student doing the whole of the degree course). The figures for the present year surpass those of 1996-97 and must represent the high point for Honours students in Classical departments. On the other hand the head count for all students in Classical departments, is considerably down on last year, if we exclude the Open University figures, though the more important FTE figure has risen from 5148 to 5233.4, which is a striking contradiction. It should be said that some departments are finding it increasingly difficult to track down occasional students in their departments, the kind of students who are sometimes included in the broad category of Other or more appropriately in NC (Non-Classical) in Table C. A number of departments simply did not fill in that side of the form which is the basis of the return. The probability is that there are many more students studying some form of Classics than are recorded in this year's statistics, though the converse will have some truth, that is that Classics students taking some modules outside a Classics department may not have had their peregrinations recorded. For the category All Students in Classics Departments I have for the last three years made two separate entries, since the numbers from the Open University are so enormous that they skew the figures and conceal the pattern which has become established over the last decade.
Another encouraging figure is the number of first year honours students, which has reached a high point, but less encouraging is the drop in the number of university staff, excluding the Open University which continues to grow, from 350.7 to 342.7. If one goes back to 1994 one can see that we have lost about 36 full time Classics teachers in the universities, a drop of 10 per cent, though a glance at the 1993 figure will show that there was something anomalous about 1994. The staff/student ratio has also gone up sharply this year, though it is not much worse than that of 1993. These ratios give a false picture. The relatively low figure is produced by the highly favourable staff student ratios in the two major institutions; elsewhere ratios of 20:1 are the norm with two major universities teaching on ratios of 30:1 and higher. The picture is further obscured by the fact that many universities rely heavily on postgraduate teachers who are not recorded.
Table B shows that there has been a drop in the numbers of those at both Single Honours and Joint Honours level studying Classics, Greek and Latin. The drop in FTE figure is perhaps even more significant than the simple head count. The increase in students taking Classical subjects is almost entirely due to those found in the category Classical Studies, Ancient History, Archaeology Single Honours. A look at Table C will show that there has been a large increase in Ancient History SH which does however only take it back to the 1996-97 figure, though with enhanced FTE, but there has been an enormous increase in Classical Studies Single Honours which takes it well beyond the 1996-97 figure. This is partly balanced by a drop in Classical Studies Joint Honours. There has been an increase in Ancient History Joint Honours though the current figures still do not reach those of 1996-97.
In Table C, under Other Classical Studies, I have this year included the Open University figure, though one can estimate the distortion it creates by comparing it with the previous years' figures. I have done this to be consistent. I have for the previous two years included the Open University's contribution to Beginners Greek, and I wanted this year to include their Beginners Latin, which is a new scheme. I shall here break protocol and give the actual figures for Open University Beginners Latin. 953 students are studying Beginners Latin with the Open University, yielding an FTE figure of 238. A quick calculation will show that there are only 258 students taking Beginners Latin in whole of the traditional university system. In this case the FTE figure cannot be assumed because it is often included under other headings. This is the most remarkable statistic which I bring before you this year and it has numerous implications in a year when there is serious talk of an e-university coming on line in the near future, but also in a year when it is becoming terribly clear that it is extremely difficult to recruit British students to the university teaching profession because of their lack of language skills. It seems from a scroll through the returns from the British Universities that a number of universities have given up on Beginners languages and indeed to all intents may have given up on language all together. This is a nice irony because one of the foremost aims of the founders of CUCD was to protect Latin and Greek, and the discussions on this topic used to be interminable. For the moment some kind of end has been reached.
The figures for Postgraduate research degrees (PG) and Taught Masters (TM) are unreliable. I suspect the PG figure may have an inflationary element in it and the Taught Masters may be unduly low. Certainly, one institution which seemed to be awash with Taught Masters last year has none this year. I cannot believe it. One should remember that many of these postgraduate students will not be British; in some key areas and institutions non-British postgraduates are in a majority. Many of the undergraduates also are not British. We have never tried to determine the number of British or non-British students, though these figures are available elsewhere.
This will be my last report. I have reported on years which were good for those who did not fall victim to rationalisation. The good years may well continue. It will however be a very different scene in ten years time and those in the profession, of whom I shall be one, will need to try and think ahead at least to the next five years, a more difficult task than playing the Quality Assessment and RAE games. These are futile distractions; the profession will need visionaries.
University of Wales, Lampeter