Minutes of the meeting of HoDoMS Committee
9 January 2004, 11.30am, Kings College London
Duncan Lawson (Chair)
Alice Rogers (Vice-Chair)
Peter Giblin (Secretary)
Charles Goldie (Former Chair)
Neil Challis (Treasurer)
David Youdan (IMA)
Jon Forster (RSS)
The Chair welcomed the new representative from the Royal Statistical
Society, Jon Forster from the University of Southampton.
1. There were apologies for absence from David Sloan, Jim Howie and
2. The minutes of the meeting of 10 October 2003 were approved subject to
correcting a misprint.
3. Matters arising not otherwise on the agenda.
- Website: the Coventry host address has changed so that the usual
url does not work. This to be corrected, and the LMS to be approached
over hosting it. Action: DL
4. Correspondence: none not covered elsewhere.
5. Chair's communications. None, but TW raised a recent News item
from the HEFCE website (23 December 2003) which concerned the rebanding
of mathematics from B to C. The main points:
- The current system would continue for at least three years
- Group B will not be split
- Group C weighting will be 1.3 on a baseline of a 20% increase in
Band D; thus the new Group C will be 1.3 x 1.2 x current Group D,
that is 1.56 times current Group D. The present weighting of
Group C is 1.5 times the current Group D.
Noted that HoDoMS endorsed the CMS response to HEFCE concerning
the proposed rebanding of Mathematics but did not make a separate response.
Annette Bramley (EPSRC
Angela Walsh (TTA)
Pam Bishop/John Blake (LTSN)
The Higher Education Academy
is to appoint a CEO, who will be approached to speak at
the Conference. Action: DL
Widening Participation. The most relevant parts for us are
- support for service teaching (retention)
- attracting more students (recruitment)
- proactivity of HE departments in schools
At least the first one can come under the LTSN umbrella at
the Conference. No particular person to be invited to talk
Smith Report: Pointed out that CMS, Science Council and the
Engineering and Technology Board (ETB)
are organizing an announcement seminar late February or early March,
with 100 places funded by ETB. After discussion agreed to invite
Adrian Smith to address the Conference on the Report and its likely
implementation: the steps forward from here.
Roberts Report: Professor Watson (on the Roberts panel) to be
approached. Action: DL
7. Teacher Training Agency
A number of different courses currently on offer to boost the number
of 'qualified' maths teachers.
- six month courses for teachers of 12-16 year olds
- subject knowledge booster courses (possibly used as coaching
for the compulsory basic numeracy test which all teachers must pass)
What is the role of HE? What is the best way for HE to interact with
the TTA in order to improve existing teachers' skills and to
increase the number of well-qualified maths undergraduates
going into teaching? How will such interaction be funded?
These are topics which can be broached in
informal discussions at the conference with the TTA speaker.
8. Bologna Declaration (document from Brian Stewart circulated)
This may have profound implications for Masters degrees, and in
particular MMath and similar degrees. The european standard is a two-
year masters, which does not fit with either MMath or the present MSc.
It was pointed out that the Chartered Engineer status is based
on a 4-year Masters degree and this is equally compromised by Bologna.
It was also reported that Imperial College is contemplating a 2-year
It was noted that now that local authority funding is largely withdrawn
the advantage of the MMath (four years' guaranteed funding) over BSc + MSc
A document from a meeting of Deans of Science (Torino, April 2003)
was circulated, suggesting that the way forward might be a common
european framework expressed in terms of learning outcomes
for degrees. (This conflicts with among other things
the Benchmark for MSOR which emphasizes diversity.)
9. Watching Briefs (significant items only):
- Karen Spencer is a new member (representing FE)
- Colin Matthews is a replacement member (County Maths Adviser for Suffolk)
- There is to be an evaluation of ACME in February; HoDoMS will be asked
for views on its effectiveness.
- Celia Hoyles has received an OBE
- Another member of the mathematical community was mentioned as worthy
of an OBE (at least); PG is to investigate nominating him. Action: PG
- The QCA is anxious that delegates sent to its consultation meetings should
truly represent the views of their organizations. There may be more explicit
attempt to do this in future.
- The pilot 2 tier GCSE has produced some papers which were judged to be
'too hard'. Suggestions that maths should be a double award.
- Maths will be the only A level with four AS modules (two core and
two applications) and two A2 modules (the remaining core). However this
does not appear to be causing complaints.
- The FE representatives at the meeting feel strongly that the calculator-free
paper should be Core 3 and not Core 1.
Agreed that it was worth sending a representative to QCA meetings when
invited, though many subjects discussed were of marginal relevance.
- There was a discussion on the different practices concerning allowed failure
in modules for Honours Degrees. King's College has adopted a system allowing
no failures; other places allow up to 45 credits of 'compensated fails'.
Liverpool allows no marks of zero.
- QAA has not given full guidance on this except that learning outcomes
should be achieved before the award is given.
- This implies that 'just passing' a module (or obtaining a compensatable
fail) should not compromise the achievement, at a threshold level,
of overall learning outcomes for the programme as a whole.
- The Programme Specification which gives the overall learning outcomes
is a legal document. So it is important to ensure that these learning
outcomes are (at a threshold level) achieved by all those who pass the
- Some programmes may contain mandatory modules (which have to be passed,
not merely taken and compensatably failed). This applies particularly to
subjects such as medicine where perhaps all modules are mandatory.
- The MSOR Benchmark explicitly states that good students might have a few
ILT, LTSN (DL)
- The ILT is dissolved and the Academy exists as from 1.1.04. It should
start operating on 1.8.04.
- LTSN has had its contracts extended to 31.12.05 to allow for absorption
into the Academy.
- The LTSN Evaluation was very positive. There is more involvement with
'new' Universities than 'old'.
- Centres of Excellence in Learning and Teaching. 70 nationwide in
all subjects, bid document out this month. Perhaps combined bids from
several universities would be appropriate. No bid can succeed without
support from the LTSN. A grave danger that other centres will be judged
less than excellent by the public at large.
- Programme approval is ongoing.
- Press release regarding Smith Report to be explicitly endorsed by HoDoMS.
- IMA has taken an office in de Morgan House, home of the LMS.
- CMS/SIAM joint conference 12-15 Sept 2005. There will be three themes.
- Launch of Chartered Scientist status soon.
Suggested that as IMA and LMS become closer (alternative strategies
are currently being considered), HoDoMS could become closer to both.
LMS (CG, passing to AR); also EPSRC (CG)
- Noted that the International Review will report later in the year,
Very supportive comments made by members of the panel.
- In particular they were concerned with over-concentration of research
funding, and with the short length of the British PhD.
So far 50 paid-up or promised, which equals the total last year.
11. Smith Inquiry
No new news.
Hon Sec HoDoMS