Crunching Figures

RAE results and fallout, Dearing, the first wave of TQA, tuition fees, Oxbridge funding threats... It would be nice not to have another year like this; the fear is that we may see rather a lot of them. CUCD has been thinking hard this year about how we can beef up its effectiveness as the front line of defence between ourselves and our masters. The role of national subject organisations has expanded enormously since CUCD was originally constituted in 1969 "(a) to provide a central agency for the collection and exchange of information of mattters of common interest, (b) to explore and develop other areas of cooperation, and (c) to represent university classical studies at the national level". That ranking presumably reflects what was then felt the order of priority; but it's undoubtedly (c) that has been the principal reason why Standing Committee meetings have been steadily lengthening over the past few years, and their agendas growing ever lardier.

As the stakes rise, and the pressures on CUCD as the national subject organisation for Classics at University level increase, CUCD is keen to ensure that it can continue to speak with strength for all UK Classics Departments in representing our subject at national level to the acronymocracy on the other side of the ceiling. Wherever possible, we want to get in ahead of the game, preempting policy rather than reacting to it. (For this reason alone it's increasingly important, for example, that all Departments have a voice - not just an observer - at the annual Council meetings in November.) In this context, the national survey of classical degree programmes conducted this summer is one of the most important projects CUCD has attempted. For the first time, we should emerge with a comprehensive national picture of what all of us are actually doing. In the immediate political term, it will give us the ammunition to resist HEQC pressure for national criteria-based definitions of "graduate outcomes"; but far more important, it will arm us to discuss what we do, what we want to do, and how we can protect and strengthen both. There'll be a chance to discuss the findings in open forum at the 1998 CUCD conference panel at the Classical Association in Lampeter.

In the meantime, some striking confirmation that what we're doing delivers the goods even as defined by the crudest Machtstatistik. Some colleagues will already know of the statistics on employment rates for graduates in classical subjects published in Humanities Graduates and the World of Work, published in June 1997 by the Council of University Deans of Arts and Humanities and the Council for Industry and Higher Education, and based on final destination returns gathered in December 1995 by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. (The report is free; copies can be obtained by ringing CIHE on 0171-468 2211.) The relevant table is reproduced below. "In the Languages category," the report notes on page 5, "both Classics and Linguistics fare well with Classics offering [my italics here:] the lowest rate of unemployment on the table." What makes this more striking still is that "Classics" here includes graduates in Classical Studies, Byzantine Studies, and other post-traditional degrees - knocking on the head any suspicion that employers' high valuation of classics graduates is based on traditional philological versions of the classical BA. Classics, as the slogan goes, works.

Subject AreaEmployed or Study/TrainingUnemployed
Average for all subjects84.411.4
Economic & Social History83.78.7
Design Studies74.621.3
Classics (including Classical Studies, Byzantine Studies &c.)87.16.6
Business & Management Studies82.312.4
Environmental Science77.617.1
Civil Engineering83.511.9
Production Engineering84.711.6

CUCD Bulletin 26 (1997)
© Council of University Classical Departments 1997

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