Graham Shipley

Once again I am grateful to member institutions for a 100 per cent return. (For the future, can departments please take care in returning beginners' language data? I hope the instructions with the new form will be clearer.)

As last year, the data are divided into (a) 'traditional' classics courses such as BA Classics, Greek, or Latin, (b) 'modern' variants such as classical civilization, classical studies, ancient history, and classical art and archaeology, and (c) 'others' such as combined honours, supplementary students, and non-honours students. Groups (a) and (b) are further divided into single and joint honours students. The grouping of the data is exactly as last year, except that some refinements have been made to the calculations of staff and postgraduate numbers. Open University data are fully integrated except where noted.

Across the board, the picture is more positive (see Table A), though one year does not make a trend. Full-time equivalent (FTE) student numbers, which reflect the proportion of their time that each student spends in classical courses, rose overall by a healthy 3 per cent, and by a spectacular 10 per cent if the Open University is discounted. Single and joint honours accounted for most of the increase, as the graph (Fig. 1, following the tables) shows clearly. It also confirms the underlying, if slow, downward trend in 'traditional' classical courses. Most of the increase is in single honours 'modern' classical courses.

Table B makes the same point in another way, revealing a 15 per cent increase in these single honours 'modern' degrees. The unpublished details underlying Table B show an 11 per cent increase in the first-year intake for single honours classical civilization and classical studies, the same increase in first-year ancient history, and - from a much lower base - a fourfold increase in first-year classical art and archaeology. First-year intakes in joint honours 'modern' degrees were in fact somewhat down on last year, suggesting greater interest in single honours; this kept the overall increase in 'modern' joint honours to just 3 per cent. From a lower base, 'traditional' classics single honours courses recovered the 5 per cent they lost last year, but still stand 16 per cent down on 1992 3. Joint honours classics, a small proportion of the total, slipped further back. (More details are given in Table C.)

In these respects, the pattern of the last few years continues, and the bulk of undergraduates who keep classical teaching alive in the UK reside in non-traditional courses. CUCD needs to redouble its efforts, in concert with other national bodies, to maintain the viability of our 'core business' of language-based classics courses.

The figures for mature students, other than at the OU, are impressionistic but appear to show a fall from just under 500 to just over 400. Future years will show whether this is a trend.

Staff numbers increased, whether one counts only 'core' staff or makes allowance for staff on leave and 'non-core' replacements (Table A). There was a small rise in the numbers of temporary and part-time staff (Table D). Since this exercise is not designed to elicit finer details one cannot tell whether the change simply reflects, for example, success in securing research grants and replacement costs. Whichever way one looks at the figures, there seems to have been a real increase of 7 10 per cent in staff numbers. Given increased undergraduate numbers, however, the student staff ratio necessarily becomes somewhat worse (Table A) - again, this is the case whether one counts effective staff or counts 'core' staff, ignoring study leave and replacement. Full-time temporary staff, which had represented 7 per cent of personnel (9 per cent of the FTE) last year, now form a slightly higher proportion (8 per cent on a head-count, but nearer 10 than 9 per cent of FTE). Again, this is a data series that should be watched closely in future.

Beginners' languages appear to dip slightly. Fewer students appear to have entered the still new OU courses, though large numbers of last year's OU beginners continued to study Greek and Latin, which is encouraging (Table E). Perhaps worryingly, the number of taught and research postgraduates studying ab initio language fell both in Latin and Greek. (We are aware, however, of cases where students at one institution take language training at the OU.) If this is a real change, it is surprising given the 8 per cent increase in FTE taught postgraduates and the 4 per cent increase in research student FTE) (Table F). I am confident that the postgraduate figures for at least the past two years are as accurate as they can be.

Optimism about postgraduate numbers should be tempered by HEFCE's proposal to cap the postgraduate funding stream at the 2003 4 level. More seriously, the tide of government policy runs strongly in favour of concentrating research in fewer universities. This would entail denying opportunities to students in certain regions. Since classics recruits many mature and part-time students who fund themselves and are not in a position to relocate to another part of the country, the creation of an élite of 'research-led' universities poses a real threat.

Graham Shipley

University of Leicester

CUCD Bulletin 32 (2003)
© Council of University Classical Departments 2003

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