Annual General Meeting held on 28 May, 1996, in the Department of
Mathematics, University College London
Heads of Department of Mathematical Sciences
The Chair welcomed Prof Chris Robson (Chair of JMC) as a guest of
1. Apologies for absence
Prof D Crighton (Cambridge), Prof R Carter (Warwick), Prof P Smith
2. Minutes of previous Annual General Meeting held on 14 September 1995
The Chair apologised for the lack of formal minutes but informal notes had been tabled at the meeting.
3. Matters arising
There were no matters arising from the notes.
4. Chairman's report
Against a background of fragmentation of responsibilities for
promoting the health of mathematics nationally, Graham Wilks
stressed the importance of continuing collaboration with the LMS and
JMC, and he hoped to develop a more effective role for HoDoMS in
relation to the government Research Assessment Exercise.
HoDoMS would also promote the MATHSKILLS project, school
competitions and integration of activities among LMS, IMA and UCAS.
It was maintaining representation at SCAA and UMTC.
Consultations were continuing with HEQC over the definition of
'graduateness' and with UCAS on promotional literature.
5. Treasurer's report
Because of the re-scheduling of the 1996 AGM, Martin Everett had
based his report on the 1994-95 accounts with the costs of the 1995
The Chairman asked for views on how funds could usefully be spent to
be passed to Committee members in time for the next meeting.
The remaining items on the agenda were rescheduled to allow some
important topics to be dealt with explicitly.
6. MATHSKILLS update
Ekkehard Kopp outlined progress with the MATHSKILLS project, which
had been funded by the Department for Education and Employment as
one of 20 network projects in different subject areas that addressed
the issue of how employees' core skills could be improved. He
thanked members for the subvention that they had agreed as
additional support from HoDoMS.
7. AGM and Conference 1997
Graham Wilks (Chair) outlined preliminary ideas for a 2-day event on
24-25 March 1997, one theme of which would be overcoming
fragmentation in the mathematics community. He was hoping to involve
some or all of the following bodies:
London Mathematical Society
Royal Statistical Society
Edinburgh Mathematical Society
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications
Committee of Professors of Applied Mathematics
Committee of Professors of Statistics
Joint Mathematics Council
Institute of Physics
Higher Education Funding Council for England
Higher Education Quality Council
Office for Standards in Education
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
Department for Education and Employment
Schools Curriculum Assessment Authority
8. MMaths and MPhys Regulations
Prof Chris Robson summarised the concerns of the Department for
Education and Employment about the way regulations were framed and
interpreted in relation to student transfer between 3 and 4 year
degrees. Transfers at the end of 3 years effectively defined the
fourth year as postgraduate, which did not attract mandatory LEA
Modular frameworks and CAT added to the difficulty of drafting the
During the ensuing discussion it was pointed out that transfer was
more about switching weaker students from the 4 year degree to a 3
year degree than vice versa; the latter were exceptional cases.
9. Research Assessment Excercise
Martin Everett reiterated his concern about the possible use of RAE
assessments in league tables, and other aspects of the grading
process, especially where a particular submission went to more than
It was also pointed out that while books were not recognised as
research output, there were cases where they should be.
Members were disappointed that the government had not made it clear
which assessment grade represented the minimum level for funding. A
straw poll revealed a majority in favour of pressing for recognition
of research activity at all levels, and for clearer information to
HEIs beforehand about the rules of the game. The quality of the
input software provided was poor. All these points would be raised
at the next committee meeting.
10. Policy directions for 1996/97
(i) Chris Robson suggested a response to the Dearing report on 16-19
year olds maths qualifications as a priority item.
(ii) SET 97 was an opportunity for HoDoMS to influence national
publicity to promote mathematics.
Both these items would be taken up at the next committee meeting.CCW