Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences


Present: Graham Wilks (Keele) in the Chair, Chris Wright (Middlesex), Ekkehard Kopp (Hull), David Larman (UCL), Adrian Lepper (IMA), David Crighton (Cambridge), Alan Zinober (Sheffield), Stephen Ryrie (West of England), Mike Atkinson (St Andrews), Ken Houston (Ulster), Allan Norcliffe (Sheffield Hallam) and Donald Davison (Queen's).

1. Apologies: Alan Ryley, Ken Brown and Adrian Smith.

2. Minutes of Meeting, 16 September 1996: Approved.

3. Matters Arising from the Minutes:

Item 6: No progress had been made with eliciting advice about regulations for MMaths degrees.

Item 9: The Chairman reported his response to the HEFCE Research Funding document, expressing disquiet at the unequal transfer of the funding base from HEFCE to the Research Councils, and other matters relating to the determination of subject quanta.

Item 15: The Chairman had seen the schedule of programmes on mathematics proposed by the BBC, but it was unlikely that HodoMS could make a contribution.


Ekkehard Kopp reported on a workshop held on 14 December 1996 and outlined a proposed programme of presentation at the HodoMS Annual Conference on 25 March.

Minutes of the Discipline Network Steering Committee were tabled together with the Project Coordinator's Report. He was concerned that the industrial contacts were not as strong as they might be.

5. Diagnostic Testing.

Graham Wilks drew attention to a request for a wider programme of diagnostic testing as originally made by Dr Neville Hunt at Coventry University and passed by JMC to HoDoMS for consideration. It included a bid for stlg1000 to help set up a Web information site accessible to the whole HE sector by Easter 1997. In the longer term, it was proposed to develop a diagnostic test to be on line by September 1998. This was agreed subject to the condition that the Consortium should be asked to consult the wider community about current practice. (Note: there will be a MATHSKILLS update session built into the Annual Conference programme).

6. Annual Conference.

Graham Wilks outlined his draft programme. The Committee considered the extent to which the reception and banquet might be subsidised by HoDoMS. Ekkehard Kopp proposed to incorporate a discussion session on assessment methods within the MATHSKILLS update session.

7. AGM: Constitutional Amendments.

It was agreed that proposals to amend the Constitution be circulated to membership for decision at the March AGM, that would additionally allow former Heads of Department to become members. In turn, former Heads would become eligible for election as members and officers of the Committee. The aim of the proposal was to facilitate the selection of a suitably distinguished past Head as Committee Chair who could devote more time to the job than was feasible for current Heads. Graham Wilks would also investigate the possibility of links with the various Conferences of Professors. (GW, CCW).

8. UK Mathematics Trust.

The Chairman asked Alan Zinober to approach Dr Neumann with a view to offering HoDoMS support. (AZ)

9. Mathematics Video.

Graham Wilks had obtained from Colin Fraser (University of Abertay) a copy of an early video promoting student recruitment to mathematics undergraduate courses. He would circulate copies to the Committee and a future meeting would consider whether to promote an updated version. (GW)

10. JMC.

Stephen Ryrie tabled copies of the 1996 Annual Report. Graham Wilks thanked him on the Committee's behalf for attending.

11. The Incorporated Engineer.

Chris Wright pointed out that the recent proposals of the Engineering Council to raise entry qualifications might have the affect of dividing engineering degree programmes into two classes. There would be a reduction in the number of accredited programmes with a corresponding growth in programmes aimed at the Incorporated Engineer from its present small base. This in turn could have an appreciable affect on the profile of mathematics teaching in many Universities.

Chris Wright would table a paper at the next meeting setting out some of the issues, incorporating suggestions from Allan Norcliffe and other members of the Committee. (CCW, AN)

12. Any Other Business.

12.1. Graham Wilks reported his disquiet at the timescale over which recent modification to the Maths A-level core was being carried out, and tabled his letter to the DfEE drawing attention to the issues involved.

12.2. HEFCE Funding for mathematics teaching: Graham Wilks had been approached by several members to formulate on behalf of HoDoMS a strong response to the withdrawal of the original HEFCE proposal to fund mathematics as a partly laboratory-based subject, and he tabled a draft letter. The committee strongly supported the letter, which would be amended before despatch. (GW)

12.3. It was agreed that the current annual membership subscription rate (stlg100) should be maintained for another year.

13. Date of Next Meeting: 12 noon on Monday 24 March, 1997, at the Annual Conference at Keele University.

The meeting closed at 2.50 p.m.