CUCD statistics 1994-5


Geoffrey Eatough

This year's figures have been slightly skewed by the inclusion for the first time of a department which has five staff and a significant number of students. Its growth has been recent, but it could have been included in the tables of the last two years, if its figures had been returned. If we excluded its returns from this year's figures, in order to gain a more truly comparative picture, we should have in Table A under All Hons. students in Classics 5501 (3904.8), under All students in Classics depts. 9453 (5329.4), and under Staff in Classics 373.6, with overall Staff/Student Ratio of 14.3. There has on this adjusted basis been a growth of 4.4% in those doing honours, but an increase of only 1.5% in the figure in brackets which is the FTE figure, that is the Fulltime Equivalent student figure a generally more secure base from which to assess student statistics, especially when thinking of the financial implications on which so much else depends. The FTE figures for All students in Classics depts. are so close as to represent a static state. This also applies to the Total 1st year Hons. Students , where no adjustment has to be made to accommodate our newly contributing department. Although there is a rise of 11.8% in first year students, the FTE figure is remarkably static.

The two interesting figures in Table A are the increase in staff, giving, on the adjusted figure, a 5.8% increase, and the decline in the Staff\Student ratio. It would seem that many departments having increased their student intake dramatically over the last five years, and especially over the last two years, have been allowed to recruit more staff, or, under radical cost centre devolution, have gone out and recruited more staff. It is also likely that there has been an extremely large increase in concealed auxiliary staff, mainly postgraduates acting as tutors and even lecturers. It is notorious that this year, that is the year subsequent to the year depicted by the figures in this report, there has been a large number of Classics posts advertised. Many of these simply reflect staff movement as departments jostle for pole positions in the looming Reseach Assessment Exercise. Most of the talk has been about the movement of staff between institutions. Some of the posts have however been additional posts, and some of these posts, and some of the already existing posts, have been fixed appointment posts. The returns on staff figures over the next three years will be interesting, as indeed will the student figures, since there has been a decline in those taking Classical subjects at both A and GCSE level. I sense from this year's UCAS exercise that we may for the moment, and within the present conventions, be reaching the limits of the market. Students who have been turned down for Classics at the universities of their first choice can be offered places in prestigious subjects such as Architecture at the newer universities. The boundary markers are disappearing and indicators are changing direction, which makes prediction difficult. The process of modularisation is an example mentioned in previous report. With modularisation will come schemes which enable students to progress through certificates and diplomas to degrees. The certificates and diplomas will in some subjects, in some universities, make A levels of considerably less importance.

In Table B the striking figure is the sharp increase in Classical Studies, Ancient History, Archaeology Single Honours. This figure does not have to be adjusted and represents a 31% increase in students taking these subjects, though with a much smaller increase of 15.9% in the FTE figure. These figures are to a large extent offset by the decline in Joint Honours figures in these same subjects, where the figures do need to be adjusted to 1520 (660.4), giving a 14.9% decrease in numbers taking the subjects, with an even sharper decline in the more significant FTE figure of 19%. These increases and decreases, which mainly balance one another, may in part be due to the growing difficulties of categorising subjects such as Classical Studies and Ancient History as either SH or JH, sometimes reflecting modularisation practices. What emerges from Table C is that in both SH and JH there is a much greater increase in Classical Studies than in Ancient History, or there is an increased preference to designate subjects as Classical Studies. Indeed there seems to have been a very sharp decrease in Ancient History JH. Ancient History students are of course sometimes in History departments, and one correspondent this year reported an inability to extract the Ancient History figures from his institution's Ancient History source. This does point to what I perceive as a major problem and also gives me a context in which to make a confession.

Last year I expressed puzzlement at the enormous increase in those taking Classical Studies under the general rubric of Other, a rise from 1259 to 1835. My policy is to let the figures speak for themselves, which you can do to a certain extent with machine generated figures, if you are meticulous about the input, which I believe I am. In this instance however the growth in those taking Classical Studies under Other in their first year was so large that it broke the rather rigid codes of my computer programme. I intervened with enough speed and efficiency to double count the second and third year figures. The figure of 1835 should have been 1484 which still represented a considerable rise. The FTE figure was unaffected and the only other figure affected was All students in Classics depts. , which was returned as 9990 instead of 9549. Again the FTE figure was unaffected and so Staff/Student ratios were also unaffected. More seriously however this year the figure has collapsed to 1093. I make a practice of not analysing the returns of individual institutions. It is important to maintain a sense of confidentiality even in one's own mind. I did however on this occasion search out the institutions which have caused this year's problem. Four stand out as being at the source of the trouble. One is a Scottish university searching for a way to express itself, the others may not be aware of what could be omissions on their part. It is tedious filling in forms, and the recording of those who come under Other is especially tedious. Some correspondents may give up at this stage.

There has it would seem to me been important growth at the postgraduate and Taught Masters level. This is an area where departments are being required to expand. There is no lack of students wishing to do postgraduate work, even where employment is available. The barrier is funding. Classics departments are likely to be near the bottom of the economic heap and rarely can they provide funding. Otherwise it can be said that this year, as last year, Classics at the universities has flourished.

Geoffrey Eatough

University of Wales, Lampeter

CUCD Bulletin 24 (1995)
© Council of University Classical Departments 1995

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