Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences

Heads of Departments of Mathematical Sciences

Minutes of Committee Meeting of 6th January 2000, at the London Mathematical Society


Prof. K Houston (Chair)

Prof D Brannan

Prof M Everett (Treasurer)

Dr T Gethins

Dr C Goldie

Dr A Lepper (IMA representative)

Prof R Moffett

Dr S Ryrie (Secretary)

Dr N Steele (Vice-Chair)

Prof. T Sweeting (RSS representative)


Prof W Bruce

Prof J Erdos


  1. Minutes
  2. The minutes of the meeting of 23rd September 1999 were approved.

  3. Matters arising
  4. (1) KH reported that he had not succeeded in finding a member from a Scottish institution for co-option to the Committee. Agreed to leave this matter to the AGM in April.

    (2) Agreed not to take a decision until after the 2000 conference in Leeds, as to whether the 2001 HODOMS conference should be held in Glasgow alongside the BMC.

    (3) Noted that KH had written to HEFCE giving the Committee's support for a nomination for a honour in the Queen's Birthday Honours for a (named) mathematician (the matter had been discussed on 23/9/99 but had not been minuted).

  5. Correspondence
  1. EPSRC had asked for a nomination from HODOMS to attend the consultation meeting on support for doctoral training; Details at http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/EPSRCWEB/MAIN/TRAINING/INUNI/INTRO/INTRO.asp?Main.htm
  2. Agreed to nominate RM with CG as reserve; KH to communicate this to EPSRC.

  3. The LMS had asked whether they might use HODOMS database of email addresses of HODs to communicate information about the Journal of Computation & Mathematics. Agreed that they might to do so, and that SR would pass on the necessary details.
  1. Chairman's Business

There were several matters arising from the IMA Council:

  1. League Tables, particularly in view of the recent Guardian League Tables: Noted that the IMA, RSS and LMS are together preparing a critique of The Guardian's methodology. The meeting discussed the merits of attempting to compile a consistent set of data across all departments with a view to pre-empting future attempts by the media to prepare tables based on erroneous and partial data, but came to no conclusion.
  2. Funding of Mathematics Courses in universities: Noted that the IMA is concerned that the recent increase in the HEFCE unit of resource for mathematics appears in many universities not to have been passed on to mathematics departments. HODOMS had carried out a survey whose results showed that in many universities the resources available to mathematics departments had not visibly increased as a result of the HEFCE decision. Agreed that the best way to gather evidence is to continue to conduct the annual HODOMS/LMS survey; KH to liaise with LMS to enable this; all members invited to make comments to KH about the content of the questionnaire.
  3. IMA Recognition of Courses: Noted that the IMA is about to start a 5-year programme of determining which courses in individual institutions should be regarded as eligible for recognition. The meeting agreed to commend to the IMA consideration of whether the processes of the IMA and of the RSS might be linked in order to reduce the burden of work on all parties.
  4. Noted that the IMA has published "Engineering Mathematics Matters", containing proposals for mathematics curricula to meet SARTOR requirements for chartered and incorporated engineers (details at http://www.ima.org.uk/news/index.htm )

5. HODOMS Conference, April 2000

Speakers (as agreed at the meeting and subsequently finalised by KH) to be Mike Lougharne (Project Manager, Benchmarking Academic Standards, QAA); Paul Clarke (Chief Executive, ILT); John Blake and Pam Bishop (Learning & Teaching Support Network for Mathematics); Les Mustoe to lead a session on Engineering Mathematics; David Emery (UMTC Chair) to lead a session on the UMTC.

Agreed KH + SR to finalise the programme and the domestic arrangements, and to circulate details to all HODs.

Agreed that HODOMS would give financial support to one person from each department which has paid a subscription for 1999-2000, to whom the cost would be £20 to cover registration, accommodation and meals.

  1. Reports from members
  1. Qualification and Curriculum Authority (DB) DB (+ME + SR + Prof. Peter Saunders) had attended a QCA consultation meeting covering the review of the National Curriculum in Mathematics; new Free-Standing Mathematics units; new A and AS Levels; Key Stage 3 Schemes of Work; Bridging Units between primary and secondary.
  2. The meeting shared DB's concern at the apparent lack of preparedness for the delivery of curricula for the new A and AS levels. Teaching of these is scheduled to begin in September 2000, but neither curricula nor textbooks are yet available. Noted also that there are potential implications for university admissions from 2002 onwards. Information available at http://www.qca.org.uk/a-as-level/

  3. Joint Mathematical Council (JE) Noted that Prof. Celia Hoyles had been elected as Chair of the JMC, and that the Royal Society/JMC Working Group on Geometry had been established.
  4. Learning & Teaching Support Network for Mathematics (TG) The LTSN is now established, with funding for 5 years, and with John Blake as Director. An Advisory Committee will be established in due course.
  5. UMTC (KH) Nothing to report at present.
  6. ILT There was anecdotal evidence that the rate of take-up of membership had been low so far, and that for many academic staff the benefits of membership were not yet seen as justifying the cost (in time and in money). Noted that it will be more onerous to join after 2001.
  7. QAA Noted that the Committee had responded to the QAA consultation on Subject Review Methodology.
  8. Teacher Training Agency (NS) Noted a recent publication ("Choosing a Mathematics Degree") commissioned by TTA and written by Sonia Jones et al. of the University of Wales, Swansea
  9. Resource Discovery Network (KH) Launched in November 1999, with funding from JISC; developed by U. of Birmingham and CTI Mathematics. Information at http://www.emc.ac.uk/mathgate.html
  1. Subscriptions, 1999-2000
  2. ME reported that 46 subscriptions had been paid this year in response to the "electronic invoice". Paper invoices would soon be sent to departments who had not yet paid.

  3. Subject Review
  4. Noted that a website was being maintained at Sussex U. with details of scores to date: http://www.maths.susx.ac.uk/QAA/Reviews.html

  5. RAE
  6. Noted that the final criteria for each Unit of Assessment have been published.

    Noted some concern, based on remarks at a presentation by the Panel Chair to the HODOMS conference, that the Statistics & Operational Research panel may use evidence on total volume of publication gathered from the BIDS database: the Committee questioned whether this was justifiable within the criteria and, if so, whether a reliable and complete source of data exists. Agreed that CG should write to the Chair to express the Committee's views.

  7. Benchmarking
  8. Noted that the Working Group had been issued a discussion document and had received responses from individual departments; JE and SR would shortly be present at a meeting of the Group which would discuss these responses.

  9. Database of HODs

KH has completed the database with current names and contact details of as many HODs (or equivalent) as he has been able to identify, and will shortly circulate it to ME and SR (and to anyone else who would like a copy).