Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences


  1. First I would like to express my thank to the organising Committee for their hard work over the past year, especially Dr Stephen Ryrie, Secretary, Professor Martin Everett, Treasurer, and Professor Roy Moffett who is retiring from the Committee this year.
  2. Thanks are also due to the local organising committee for the British Mathematical Colloquium, particularly Dr Alan Slomson, Dr Dugald Macpherson and Professor Garth Dales for inviting HoDoMS to meet at the same time and place as BMC, and for looking after the domestic arrangements and registration. Holding this AGM and Conference in conjunction with BMC is an experimental innovation which we shall have to evaluate.
  3. The Committee met on three occasions during the year, in April after the AGM, in September and in January. Between the meetings business was conducted by e-mail. Several of the concerns of the Committee are reflected in the topics chosen for discussion at this conference, namely,

  1. The Committee decided not to include a discussion about the RAE this year as this topic had featured on the programme in 1999. Some concern was expressed about the criteria to be used by the Statistics Panel.
  2. Benchmarking
  3. Dr John Erdos and Dr Stephen Ryrie represented HoDoMS on an ad hoc Benchmarking group, which also included representatives of IMA, LMS, ORS and RSS, and was chaired by Professor Chris Robson. The group met several times during the year and presented a report recently, which was circulated to HoDoMS members and the Learned Societies involved. The mathematics community is now in a better position to proceed with the official QAA Benchmarking exercise whenever it is called to do so.
  4. Engineering Mathematics Matters
  5. This publication by the IMA has been circulated to HoDoMS members and gives curriculum proposals to meet SARTOR 3 requirements for Chartered Engineers and for Incorporated Engineers.
  6. Subject Review
  7. This ongoing exercise is demonstrating that the overall standard of mathematics teaching and learning in universities in England and Northern Ireland is of a good standard. Previous reviews in Scotland and Wales had similarly demonstrated good standards in those countries of the UK. It is regrettable that such an enormous effort is required in preparing for these reviews, but teaching is the most important thing we do, at least as far as income generation is concerned, and it is satisfying that it has been judged to be of a good standard.
  8. Institute for Learning and Teaching
  9. While we applaud the aims of the ILT, we wait to see how its success will be judged.
  10. LTSN Centre for MSOR
  11. While HoDoMS did not support any one of the candidates for the contract in Round 1, when it was clear that only one bid was selected for Round 2, we liased closely with the Birmingham-Glasgow-Nottingham Trent consortium while they prepared their case and outlined their programme of activities.
  12. UMTC
  13. We suggested that it might be better if on-going projects such as UMTC and MathSkills found some shelter in the MSOR LTSN. The UMTC has not been attracting many participants in recent years and we would like to see this trend reversed. There will be a chance to debate this at the conference tomorrow.
  14. EPSRC
  15. Professor Moffett attended a meeting held on 3 February when the thorny issue of the resourcing of PhD training was discussed. EPSRC have not yet decided, but one option discussed was that there would be a combination of earmarked awards allocated in March and pool awards allocated in July.
  16. QCA
  17. A HoDoMS team together with teams from AMET and NANAMIC attended a briefing meeting with QCA on 25 November. Another meeting is planned for 9 May. Several topics were discussed including: -

  1. JMC
  2. A joint JMC/Royal Society Geometry Group has been set up to investigate and advise on the teaching of geometry in schools.

  5. The HoDoMS database of members has been updated, including the email list. The latter has been moved from Hull to Mailbase and the address is now mathsheads@mailbase.ac.uk. We thank Ekkehard Kopp and Neill Gordon at Hull for managing the email list for many years. It is also noted that the HoDoMS web page may now be found at Coventry instead of St Andrew's.
  6. IMA
  7. The IMA has started a programme to update its list of courses accredited for GIMA. Courses in Scotland and Wales will be examined in 2000, while England and Northern Ireland will follow in the next year or two.
  8. The IMA had also initiated the Maths@Work programme to popularise mathematics. This has been attracting large numbers of school children and their teachers to venues all over the UK.

Ken Houston


17 April 2000