Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences

Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences

Committee Meeting - Friday 29th September 2000

Present: Ken Houston (University of Ulster)

Stephen Ryrie (University of West of England)

Neil Challis (Sheffield University)

David Brannan (Open University)

Charles Goldie (Sussex University)

Bill Bruce (Liverpool University)

John Erdos (King's College)

Martin Everett (Greenwich University)

David Fearn (Glasgow University)

  1. Apologies - Trevor Gethins, Trevor Sweeting, Bill Boyd, Adrian Lepper
  2. Minutes of meeting of 18th April accepted as accurate.
  3. Matters arising

    1. RAE in Statistics & Operational Research
    2. CG had written to Byron Morgan (Chair of the Statistics & Operational Research Panel for RAE 2001). By a subsequent phone call BM had said that panel would not use public sources of information to explore the publication record of staff submitted. Staff profiles will be used, apparently to infer extent of involvement in multi-authorised works beyond 4 papers.

    3. LMS/HODOMS survey - BB proposed that instead of the annual survey, HESA data should be used, despite the difficulty in extracting some data from it; BB to continue work with assistance from LMS, and to produce summary report in due course.
    4. Noted that although mathematics is classified by HEFCE as a part-laboratory subject for funding purposes, the evidence is that many Universities appear not to give mathematics the benefit of the greater funding which this classification permits (evidence from a survey conducted by David Brannan).

    5. Mathgate: www.mathgate.ac.uk provides a gateway to a variety of mathematical resources, and is maintained by LTSN at B'ham University. Committee agreed that this is a good resource and deserves to be supported.

  1. Correspondence
  2. Agreed to donate £200 to Mathematical Association Teaching Committee to assist them in promoting the take-up of A-levels in Further Maths.

  3. Conference

Agreed hold 2-day conference at Easter 2001, at Birmiungham University if possible. Agenda to include some or all of the following:


RS/JMC Geometry Working Group


Subject Review Methodology

Qualifications Framework

Curriculum 2000, including the Scottish dimension

"Maths as a Career - Awareness raising and support of local teachers associations

Departments "under threat"

Agreed KH + SR to arrange draft programme, to be finalised at January meeting; SR to book conference venue.


6. QAA National Qualifications Framework

Responses received from several members, and collected and summarised by CG, who agreed to respond on the committee's behalf to QAA. Points made in discussion:

    1. The proposed framework makes it difficult to see in what form MMath might continue. Agreed MMath is beneficial to students in some universities and should continue if possible.
    2. Concern about the wording of some Qualification Descriptions and Level Descriptions, aspects of which are not appropriate to the study of the mathematical sciences and perhaps not even to any of the sciences.
    3. Confusion re how HE 1-4 map to Qualificationn levels, and re their Scottish equivalents.
    4. Desirability of MPhil continuing as a valid exit route from Ph.D study.


7. Reports from Members

    1. QCA (DB) (1) consultation of HODOMS by QCA on 9th May re Free-Standing Mathematics units. Proposal that FSMUs may be aggregated so that 3xFSMU = 1 AS-level.

    1. Tests at KS1-3, and their use. Agreed should continue to keep watching brief on developments.

    1. JMC (JE) verbal report on planning for British Conference on Mathematical Education, July 2001 at Keele University. Verbal report on progress of Geometry Working Group. Noted report "Acceleration or Enrichment", by Tony Gardner, University of Birmingham September 2001 (report of seminar at Royal Society).
    2. Mathematics, Statistics, OR LTSN (KH) Noted KH has been invited to be a member of the LTSN Advisory Committee.
    3. The MSORN has been in operation since the beginning of the year. There are five staff in the directorate (Director, Assistant Director and three Site Co-ordinators, one of whom is also a Deputy Director) and (at 16th August) three other staff and three secretaries. There is provision for one more Research Officer and one more secretary to be appointed. Four Consultants have been appointed (with provision for one more), and they will be called upon from time to time.

      The Advisory Committee has been set up and has held its first meeting (16th August). The business included: -

      1. The role of the Advisory Committee

      2. A scrutiny of documents submitted to the LTSN Executive - Strategy

      Document, Operational Plan, Monitoring Returns, Budget

      3. A discussion of other matters relating to the LTSN Executive

      4. The appointment of an external evaluator

      5. A discussion of future activities

      Some points to note: -

      The MSORN will provide a subject-based component within the University of Birmingham's PGCHE programme, which has been accredited by the ILT. His component could be made available to MSOR lecturers taking similar programmes at their own (or neighbouring) institution. "Measuring the Mathematics Problem" has been made available on the

      website and will be the subject of one day workshop later this year.

      A pilot website (which is now beginning to look very like the final

      website) has been set up at http://www.bham.ac.uk/msor/pilot/msor/default.htm

      A list of departmental contacts has been largely set up.

      Three issues of the quarterly Newsletter have been published so far with

      the last part of Volume 1 due in November. This is available in paper form

      and on the web.

      Noted that Birmingham University will be piloting a mathematics subject-specific component in its ILT-accredited PGCHE, which is taken by new lecturers; that this component might also be available to staff from other institutions. Noted the report "Measuring the Mathematics Problem", available on LTSN website (http://www.bham.ac.uk/msor).

    4. Mathskills (KH) Funding has now closed and there is no current activity. The material on the website will be transferred to LTSN website.
    5. UMTC (NC) The hoped-for increase in participants this year had not materialised. UMTC will move to Birmingham U. from next year, and still hopes to gain ILT accreditation in due course.

  1. Subscriptions
  2. In 1999-2000, there were 75 paid subscriptions. Requests to join for 2000-01 to be issued soon. Agreed subscriptions to remain at £100 per department per year.

  3. Database and Mailing List of Heads

Mailing list on mailbase is active and is maintained by SKH.

10. Subject Review

Almost all universities have now been reviewed. An unconfirmed list of numerical grades is available at http://www.maths.susx.ac.uk/QAA/Reviews.html.

11. Benchmarking

Noted that the Benchmarking Group has been formed and includes two members of the hodoms Committee. First meeting to be on 23/10/00. Draft benchmarks to be produced in July 01, and final version by Dec 01. Full membership is:

Chair: Chris Robson (Leeds)

Rob Archbold (Aberdeen)

Russell Cheng (Southampton)

Neville Davies (Nottingham Trent)

John Erdos, (King's College, London)

Judy Goldfinch (Napier)

Gerald Goodall, (RSS, ex Brunel)

Tony Palmer (De Montfort)

Stephen Ryrie, (West of England)

Peter Saunders (King's College, London))

Stephen Siklos (Cambridge)

Joan Walsh (Manchester)

The membership of the Reference Group appears not yet to have been announced by QAA.

  1. Next Meeting on Friday 12th January 2001 at the LMS, Russell Square.