Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences
Minutes of HoDoMS Committee Meeting
September 28th 2001 Royal Statistical Society, London
Charles Goldie (University of Sussex), Chair
Maia Angelova (University of Northumbria)
Neil Challis (Sheffield Hallam University), Secretary
Maurice Dodson (L.M.S)
Peter Giblin (University of Liverpool)
Ken Houston (University of Ulster)
Adrian Lepper (I.M.A.)
Nigel Steele (University of Coventry)
David Stirling (University of Reading)
Trevor Sweeting (University of Surrey and R.S.S)
Tony Wickstead (Queen's University, Belfast)
1. Apologies from Martin Everett, David Fearn, Walter
2. Minutes of meeting of 20th April 2001 accepted as
3. Matters arising not otherwise on the agenda
AOB: CMG has contacted OR Society re cooption with no
response yet. He will try via personal contacts.
4. Chairman's correspondence
Letter from LTSN to Secretary wanting a list of heads'
addresses. No data protection issues so NC sent MathsHeads
and MathsHeadsAdverts lists. Noted both these lists are
larger than HoDOMS membership list.
Letter to chair from University of Durham expressing concern
that EPSRC/LMS short courses are threatened by the EPSRC
doctoral training programme. CMG circulated this and got
some sympathetic response - wrote to heads inviting them to
submit their views to the chair of the LMS research
committee. RSS becoming involved similarly. A meeting is to
happen shortly with EPSRC. There is an issue of sympathy for
Durham versus independence for HODs. Possible resolution
could be free courses but with heads paying for travel, but
HoDOMS will let this develop.
There had been correspondence over C2000 briefing, with some
discussion of a possible northern meeting to augment the
London meeting. This did not happen, but LTSN is circulating
papers. Maia Angelova went to the QCA Annual Conference.
Key point: 29% failure in AS Maths has been reported, with response
that gradings may change. Possible HoDOMS conference topic?
Report previously circulated from Lucy Allen re MEI meeting
in late May on Further Maths. Maia Angelova had been
involved when possible centres were discussed. IMA
interested. Issues raised included: Further Maths being
squeezed; no universities insisted on it, but some incline
to it; this all raises staff development issues concerning
awareness of what A level Maths is now; Q: Is FM the
important point now, or is it A level Maths (and the AS
failure rate!)? Add to conference topic list along with AS?
HEFCE review of RAE. HoDOMS replied to this Nov 2000. Formal
report early 2002 and we must be ready to respond.
Discussion: concern at need to establish minimum standards
and good practice in research degrees position, reaching
threshold to be allowed to have students. This could form a
major obstacle, and lead to danger of a 'big science'
approach. There is the danger of being bundled with Physics,
and of only big departments being heard. Noted that Maths
needs small space, but plenty of time, and small departments
can offer excellent support. Maths could argue common provision
with a wider School or Faculty grouping for research student support.
Noted that many studentships are industrially funded. Watch closely for
opportunity to respond.
DTI reviewed Research Councils as a whole. CMG responded to
them saying that the distinctiveness of Maths should be
Nominations sought for EPSRC top level bodies. Decided that
this is best left to learned societies and/or CMS.
2001 SET student of the year awards. Mathematics is
conspicuously absent from list of supporting organisations
and best students. Suggested that learned societies consider
funding a best Maths/Stats/OR student, and that the three
reps take this suggestion back to their respective
societies. Suggestion that HoDOMS could contribute modestly
was well received.
(CMG to ask organiser for ballpark costs.
MD, AL, TS to sound out their societies)
5. Chair's communications not otherwise on the agenda Noted
new HoDOMS heading includes "in the UK", revealing the
emphasis on being fully national.
6. Arrangements for the 2002 conference
Date confirmed as 4/5 April 2002 at University of
--Sir Howard Newby cannot attend, although remains willing for
--Suggest approach Estelle Morris or sub and ask about
government vision for school maths over the next 10 years -
what should we prepare for?
--Want about 6 topics, 2 - 3 speakers, 2 - 3 sessions led by
ourselves. Questionnaire at end of conference. Suggestions
--number of submissions for next RAE - 3 or 1, relative
--HEFCE fee banding (both QR and T) for Maths
--New UCAS points tariff
--EPSRC Maths Programme person to talk about Mathfit, Life
--Handling gifted students - enhancement and acceleration -
linked to Excellence in Cities - someone who has run summer
--Feedback/reflection on RAE.
--FDTL + subject review + Benchmarking + LTSN
--Something subject-related (!) - e.g. post-genomic biology,
Bioinformatics, reality versus hype.
--Outcome of discussion was:
--Estelle Morris to be approached to talk
(CMG to approach minister)
--EPSRC's new Chief Executive to be approached to talk on the
other day. Would surely bring the Maths Programme Managers.
(CMG to approach)
--Item on gifted students programme
--Item on LTSN-related items - invite speaker from there.
--Item on post-genomic biology - realities and opportunities
(Nigel Steele to approach Olaf Walkenhauer of UMIST possibly
--Item on incoming students - C2000, AS, A, etc.
--Item on RAE
7. Report from committee members on various committees/bodies
JMC (DS) ACME Chair has been appointed: Professor Sir Chris
Llewellyn Smith, Provost of UCL (JMC Minutes 22/6/01).
HoDoMS via SKH, confirmed by CMG, had suggested Peter
Saunders, Chris Robson and Keith Hirst (acknowledged). John
Erdos attended 9/7/01 - the Geometry report was approved
outside the meeting and can be found on the Royal Society
QCA (SKH) Meeting 15/5/01: Discussed C2000 concerns. MA
attended QCA conference - mainly KS4, AS modified, not
abolished. Next meeting 15/11/01.
QAA (WM) Consultation on new methodology for
subject review. E-mail responses in late August from SKH
and DSGS were mild, but the agenda has moved on since
(removal of John Randall etc). CMG will re-circulate with
his own views and attempt to gain agreement on a formal
response from us.
ILT (SKH) Briefing circulated by email. Most via experienced
route are accepted. Deadline extended. No. of accredited new
lecturer courses increasing. Successful conference in July.
Some interesting research on retention as participation
LTSN (SKH) MSOR Connections works well; LTSN up to
establishment now. One day (subject specific!) course for
new lecturers at start of UMTC worth mentioning.
UMTC (NC) Numbers slightly up this year. Some discussion on
its role. Agreed to suggest a HoDOMS rep on planning
committee. SKH/NS to raise at LTSN the question of UMTC role
in the spectrum of CPD activities.
EPSRC (MA) OR is earmarked, and there is a stress on
interdisciplinary courses e.g. ChemInformatics. There are no
MRes courses in Maths. There was a large meeting in
Manchester about Connectivity (Maths and Engineering)
IMA (NS) AL is to retire shortly and will need to be
replaced. Chartered status is to be split from corporate
membership. IMA will meet EPSRC in October. There is a
working group on teaching and learning in university
mathematics, which SKH will attend.
RSS (TS) RSS is now proactively participating in CMS joint
responses; the educational arm is being restructured to give
a one-stop contact point; CPD activities are increasing.
CPAM (DF) Nothing
COPS (NS for CMG) Reported after meeting with Mathematics
Programme Manager that funding for the Programme has
increased substantially but more outreach and work with
other disciplines or industry needed to justify
LMS (MD) Shared concerns about benchmarking; supports
subject-specific induction courses for new lecturers and
supported LTSN here - more cautious about ILT.
BCME (DS for WM) Meeting in July mainly about schools - but
some useful evidence-based work.
Newton Institute (PG) The NI website shows a list of symposia in Mathematical
Sciences. May be a source of money for conferences.
8. Reports from committee members with particular
responsibilities not covered above
BA Science week - shouldwe be involved? LMS have a Women in Mathematics group which
runs conferences - we need to know about such bodies.
9. Subscription situation for 2000 - 2001.
Accounts summary provided by Treasurer in his absence.
Current balance at 1st September 2001 was 24148.07 pounds.
Call for subscriptions will come in late October.
CMG will write reasoned recruiting circular. Suggested that
it include how we spend the subscription and might in the
10. QAA Benchmarking - closing date for responses is 16th
November 2001; colleagues are urged to respond.
National Qualifications Framework - Some comments: does the
level descriptor imply that every student must do a project?
(A: Can interpret 'project' more widely to mean project-type
work). The benchmark says not all students will do a final
year project. There have been unconfirmed reports that in the event of benchmark and NQF
the benchmark prevails.
MMath/MSci - Paper gone to QAA - awaiting response. Issues:
Does MMath require 120 or 90 pts at M level? (Clash between
NQF and MMath paper - which will prevail?) Some concern over
pressure from Credit Consortia and possibility of imposition
from that direction - CMG to write recording our concern,
quoting and endorsing the CMS position (Note deadline past
here, but still worth doing). Question about doing M level
credits in years 3 or 4 - this will require individual
Briefing paper from CMS about MSc and the QAA framework for
qualifications was circulated at the meeting - comments to
Charles soon please.
Next meeting Friday 11th January 2002 at the LMS.