Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences

Minutes of HoDoMS Committee Meeting

September 28th 2001 Royal Statistical Society, London


Charles Goldie (University of Sussex), Chair
Maia Angelova (University of Northumbria)
Neil Challis (Sheffield Hallam University), Secretary
Maurice Dodson (L.M.S)
Peter Giblin (University of Liverpool)
Ken Houston (University of Ulster)
Adrian Lepper (I.M.A.)
Nigel Steele (University of Coventry)
David Stirling (University of Reading)
Trevor Sweeting (University of Surrey and R.S.S)
Tony Wickstead (Queen's University, Belfast)

1. Apologies from Martin Everett, David Fearn, Walter Middleton

2. Minutes of meeting of 20th April 2001 accepted as correct.

3. Matters arising not otherwise on the agenda

AOB: CMG has contacted OR Society re cooption with no response yet. He will try via personal contacts. (Action: CMG)

4. Chairman's correspondence

Letter from LTSN to Secretary wanting a list of heads' addresses. No data protection issues so NC sent MathsHeads and MathsHeadsAdverts lists. Noted both these lists are larger than HoDOMS membership list.

Letter to chair from University of Durham expressing concern that EPSRC/LMS short courses are threatened by the EPSRC doctoral training programme. CMG circulated this and got some sympathetic response - wrote to heads inviting them to submit their views to the chair of the LMS research committee. RSS becoming involved similarly. A meeting is to happen shortly with EPSRC. There is an issue of sympathy for Durham versus independence for HODs. Possible resolution could be free courses but with heads paying for travel, but HoDOMS will let this develop.

There had been correspondence over C2000 briefing, with some discussion of a possible northern meeting to augment the London meeting. This did not happen, but LTSN is circulating papers. Maia Angelova went to the QCA Annual Conference. Key point: 29% failure in AS Maths has been reported, with response that gradings may change. Possible HoDOMS conference topic?

Report previously circulated from Lucy Allen re MEI meeting in late May on Further Maths. Maia Angelova had been involved when possible centres were discussed. IMA interested. Issues raised included: Further Maths being squeezed; no universities insisted on it, but some incline to it; this all raises staff development issues concerning awareness of what A level Maths is now; Q: Is FM the important point now, or is it A level Maths (and the AS failure rate!)? Add to conference topic list along with AS?

HEFCE review of RAE. HoDOMS replied to this Nov 2000. Formal report early 2002 and we must be ready to respond. Discussion: concern at need to establish minimum standards and good practice in research degrees position, reaching threshold to be allowed to have students. This could form a major obstacle, and lead to danger of a 'big science' approach. There is the danger of being bundled with Physics, and of only big departments being heard. Noted that Maths needs small space, but plenty of time, and small departments can offer excellent support. Maths could argue common provision with a wider School or Faculty grouping for research student support. Noted that many studentships are industrially funded. Watch closely for opportunity to respond.

DTI reviewed Research Councils as a whole. CMG responded to them saying that the distinctiveness of Maths should be preserved.

Nominations sought for EPSRC top level bodies. Decided that this is best left to learned societies and/or CMS.

2001 SET student of the year awards. Mathematics is conspicuously absent from list of supporting organisations and best students. Suggested that learned societies consider funding a best Maths/Stats/OR student, and that the three reps take this suggestion back to their respective societies. Suggestion that HoDOMS could contribute modestly was well received. (CMG to ask organiser for ballpark costs. MD, AL, TS to sound out their societies)

5. Chair's communications not otherwise on the agenda Noted new HoDOMS heading includes "in the UK", revealing the emphasis on being fully national.

6. Arrangements for the 2002 conference Date confirmed as 4/5 April 2002 at University of Birmingham.

--Sir Howard Newby cannot attend, although remains willing for another year.
--Suggest approach Estelle Morris or sub and ask about government vision for school maths over the next 10 years - what should we prepare for?
--Want about 6 topics, 2 - 3 speakers, 2 - 3 sessions led by ourselves. Questionnaire at end of conference. Suggestions included:
--number of submissions for next RAE - 3 or 1, relative merits.
--HEFCE fee banding (both QR and T) for Maths --New UCAS points tariff
--EPSRC Maths Programme person to talk about Mathfit, Life Sciences interface.
--Handling gifted students - enhancement and acceleration - linked to Excellence in Cities - someone who has run summer schools.
--Curriculum 2000
--Feedback/reflection on RAE.
--FDTL + subject review + Benchmarking + LTSN
--Something subject-related (!) - e.g. post-genomic biology, Bioinformatics, reality versus hype.
--Outcome of discussion was:
--Estelle Morris to be approached to talk (CMG to approach minister)
--EPSRC's new Chief Executive to be approached to talk on the other day. Would surely bring the Maths Programme Managers. (CMG to approach)
--Item on gifted students programme
--Item on LTSN-related items - invite speaker from there.
--Item on post-genomic biology - realities and opportunities (Nigel Steele to approach Olaf Walkenhauer of UMIST possibly to lead)
--Item on incoming students - C2000, AS, A, etc.
--Item on RAE

7. Report from committee members on various committees/bodies

JMC (DS) ACME Chair has been appointed: Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, Provost of UCL (JMC Minutes 22/6/01). HoDoMS via SKH, confirmed by CMG, had suggested Peter Saunders, Chris Robson and Keith Hirst (acknowledged). John Erdos attended 9/7/01 - the Geometry report was approved outside the meeting and can be found on the Royal Society website.

QCA (SKH) Meeting 15/5/01: Discussed C2000 concerns. MA attended QCA conference - mainly KS4, AS modified, not abolished. Next meeting 15/11/01.

QAA (WM) Consultation on new methodology for subject review. E-mail responses in late August from SKH and DSGS were mild, but the agenda has moved on since (removal of John Randall etc). CMG will re-circulate with his own views and attempt to gain agreement on a formal response from us. (Action: CMG)

ILT (SKH) Briefing circulated by email. Most via experienced route are accepted. Deadline extended. No. of accredited new lecturer courses increasing. Successful conference in July. Some interesting research on retention as participation widens.

LTSN (SKH) MSOR Connections works well; LTSN up to establishment now. One day (subject specific!) course for new lecturers at start of UMTC worth mentioning.

UMTC (NC) Numbers slightly up this year. Some discussion on its role. Agreed to suggest a HoDOMS rep on planning committee. SKH/NS to raise at LTSN the question of UMTC role in the spectrum of CPD activities.

EPSRC (MA) OR is earmarked, and there is a stress on interdisciplinary courses e.g. ChemInformatics. There are no MRes courses in Maths. There was a large meeting in Manchester about Connectivity (Maths and Engineering)

IMA (NS) AL is to retire shortly and will need to be replaced. Chartered status is to be split from corporate membership. IMA will meet EPSRC in October. There is a working group on teaching and learning in university mathematics, which SKH will attend.

RSS (TS) RSS is now proactively participating in CMS joint responses; the educational arm is being restructured to give a one-stop contact point; CPD activities are increasing.

CPAM (DF) Nothing

COPS (NS for CMG) Reported after meeting with Mathematics Programme Manager that funding for the Programme has increased substantially but more outreach and work with other disciplines or industry needed to justify continuance

LMS (MD) Shared concerns about benchmarking; supports subject-specific induction courses for new lecturers and supported LTSN here - more cautious about ILT.

BCME (DS for WM) Meeting in July mainly about schools - but some useful evidence-based work.

Newton Institute (PG) The NI website shows a list of symposia in Mathematical Sciences. May be a source of money for conferences.

8. Reports from committee members with particular responsibilities not covered above BA Science week - shouldwe be involved? LMS have a Women in Mathematics group which runs conferences - we need to know about such bodies.

9. Subscription situation for 2000 - 2001. Accounts summary provided by Treasurer in his absence. Current balance at 1st September 2001 was 24148.07 pounds. Call for subscriptions will come in late October.

CMG will write reasoned recruiting circular. Suggested that it include how we spend the subscription and might in the future.

10. QAA Benchmarking - closing date for responses is 16th November 2001; colleagues are urged to respond.

National Qualifications Framework - Some comments: does the level descriptor imply that every student must do a project? (A: Can interpret 'project' more widely to mean project-type work). The benchmark says not all students will do a final year project. There have been unconfirmed reports that in the event of benchmark and NQF disagreeing, the benchmark prevails.

MMath/MSci - Paper gone to QAA - awaiting response. Issues: Does MMath require 120 or 90 pts at M level? (Clash between NQF and MMath paper - which will prevail?) Some concern over pressure from Credit Consortia and possibility of imposition from that direction - CMG to write recording our concern, quoting and endorsing the CMS position (Note deadline past here, but still worth doing). Question about doing M level credits in years 3 or 4 - this will require individual defence.

Briefing paper from CMS about MSc and the QAA framework for qualifications was circulated at the meeting - comments to Charles soon please.

11. AOB


Next meeting Friday 11th January 2002 at the LMS.