Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences


Present: Graham Wilks (Keele) in the Chair, Alan Zinober (Sheffield), Ken Brown, LMS representative (Glasgow), Alan Ryley (Glamorgan), Adrian Lepper (IMA), Donald Davison (Queen's), Mike Atkinson (St Andrews), Ken Houston (Ulster) and Chris Wright (Middlesex).

1. Apologies: David Crighton, Ekkehard Kopp, Stephen Ryrie, Adrian Smith, Martin Everitt (arriving late).

2. Minutes of Meeting, 28 May 1996. Approved.

3. Matters Arising from the Minutes. Ken Houston reported that a project assistant had started work and the second edition of the MATHSKILLS Newsletter had appeared.

Stephen Ryrie had written to say that he had attended one meeting of JMC and forwarded a copy of the minutes to the Chairman.

4. Ekkehard Kopp's Cooption. The Chairman suggested that Ekkehard Kopp be invited to meetings as an advisor.

5. Treasurer's Report - Accounts. Martin Everitt reported that there were currently 77 paid-up members with a healthy account balance of 23,000.

6. Advice to Members on Regulations for MMaths and MPhys. Graham Wilks would liaise with Chris Robson to draft advice that would be issued to members.


7. WWW - Communication. The Secretary outlined proposals for using e-mail to replace the current system of mailshots for communicating with members. This would involve two stages. The first stage would entail the posting of minutes on WWW with a circular to members explaining the proposals and quoting the URL.

In addition there would have to be conventional mailshots at regular intervals to remind members about major updates. Minutes would continue to be e-mailed to committee members as in the past, but in ASCII format.

The second stage would involve direct circulation by e- mail to all members, and we would start to collect their e-mail addresses with a view to commencing early in 1997.

CCW, Ann Ebberson

8. Datasets for Mathematics and Computer Science. The JISC Datasets Steering Group was considering whether to provide bibliographic datasets nationally for free access in 1996/97. Bruce Royan had asked for advice. Mike Atkinson reported on the options. He had identified one 'front runner' for mathematics (Mathematical Reviews from the American Mathematical Society), and passed his recommendation to Bruce Royan.

9. RAE Grading Process. Graham Wilks (Chairman) reported that a recent consultation document on the funding of research was relevant here, namely HEFCE CP/2/96. Among other things the Council were inviting comments on the degree of selectivity it should adopt in allocating funds for the QR element of its funding. Comments were also invited on the introduction of three cost weights - part laboratory-based, laboratory-based and clinical, and mainly classroom-based - within which the Mathematics units of assessment would be assigned 'part laboratory-based'. This mirrored suggestions in a companion consultation document on funding for teaching where four price groups were mooted, with Mathematics upgraded from classroom-based to a new price group 'part laboratory-based'. These documents can be found on the HEFCE homepage


the relevant entry:


The research funding documents indicated that selectivity should not be less than the current exercise. The AGM had clearly indicated that it was opposed to further selectivity, and this view should be transmitted in any HoDoMS response. Committee members were urged to feed back any comments on either document to the Chairman as a basis for response to HEFCE by 25 October.

10. Suggestion for workshop on Teaching Quality Assessment. This item was taken with Item 11.

11. Video for School Pupils "Careers in Mathematics". The Committee noted the letter from Colin Frazer drawing attention to the fact that a video had been made many years ago and the Chair said he would follow this up.


12. Continuing Professional Development. The Chairman introduced a brief discussion on this topic, but no action was taken.

13. Coordinated diagnostic testing. The Chairman presented a paper passed to HoDoMS by JMC. It was a suggestion by Dr Neville Hunt of Coventry that universities should collaborate on diagnostic testing to accumulate an objective source of data on standards of preparation of students at entry to university. The suggestion was well received and the Chairman was authorised to contact Dr Hunt and pursue the initiative.


14. Annual Conference. 24-25 March 1997. Graham Wilks reminded the Committee that both Sir Robert May and Professor Brian Fender had accepted invitations to speak. Graham outlined his vision of the meeting as one signalling collaboration between the various representative voices of Mathematics, e.g. learned societies, professional bodies, education associations, etc. He hoped the programme would reflect that ethos. Provisionally, he suggested that the meeting should start at midday on Monday 24 March, 1997, with a session on research (policy, strategy and funding). Tuesday would be devoted to teaching issues including the suggested workshop on Teaching Quality. Dr Brannan might be persuaded to take this forward. The AGM would also figure in Tuesday's programme as would a full session of update and presentations related to Mathskills. It might also include popularisation of mathematics. The Committee felt that TQA should be a high priority - the Working Group would now proceed to develop the programme.

Working Group

15. Any Other Business. Members' attention was directed by Graham Wilks to a series of documents including one from the BBC about a proposed series of programmes on mathematics. Graham Wilks would follow this up.

The Chairman also referred to the transitional arrangements for scheduling the annual conference and AGM and the need for early consideration of who should be the next cohort of HoDoMS committee representatives.

16. Date of Next Meeting. Monday, 13 January, 1997, 12 noon at UCL.