Minutes of the UKCASA Ordinary Meeting 9.11.2015, UCL, SSEES
Building, 16 Taviton Street, Room 432
Present: Tony Chafer (ASMCF, Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France, UKCASA President), Susan Hodgett (British Association for Canadian Studies and UKCASA Treasurer), Insa Nolte (African Studies Association of the UK), …
The president expressed his thanks to organisers of conference Area Studies in the 21 st Century for hosting the meeting and including UKCASA delegates in the lunch. He announced that no nominations for secretary had been received yet and suggested discussing the issue again under AOB.
2. Notes from Feb 2015 meeting with REF representatives
One error in minutes, correction: Vice President of the Association is Insa Nolte.
3. Matters arising
It was discussed whether the Association should move to annual subscription rather than asking for money when needed. There was no strong feeling that there was a need for change.
4. President’s report on recent actions
The UKCASA Website was originally set up by John Canning at Subject Centre for Languages Linguisics and Area Studies (LLAS) in Southampton which has now lost its funding. The details of how to access template may have been lost. John Canning’s email cannot be removed. If that cannot be changed, the website may have to be moved.
The president set up a twitter account (@THEUKCASA) (to communicate Foreign Office requests for expert evidence).
The president met with the Arts and Humanities Alliance, whose members are concerned about the impact of the comprehensive spending review. McKinsey recommended the abolition of HEFCE, QR and other major university funding sources and their replacement by Research UK. If that were to come to pass, one worry is that funding especially in the Arts Humanities and Social Sciences might be drastically reduced; all funding will be (large) project based. Area studies were not strongly represented in new AHRC doctoral training programme.
The president has also been invited to the BA for a meeting later in the academic year.
5. Responses to Questionnaire to Member Associations, Priority Actions for 2016
The overwhelming response by member associations was that Area Studies should stay in Main Panel D (Arts and Humanities) but should (also) include social scientists. One concern was that interdisciplinary research should be made more visible.
Many responses were positive about the possibility of UKCASA organising events and suggested events should be organised on cross-cutting themes, i.e. migration, the growing Chinese presence globally, tourism, citizenship and belonging. The president will raise this with the BA. In the past similar conferences/ events were poorly attended, so it might be interesting to embed such UKCASA events into Area Studies conferences.
Responses were evenly split on membership fees.
The President suggested that this meant UKCASA’s mission included 1. bringing awareness to universities that Area Studies Panel exists and that a submission is valuable; 2. discussing international bids for funding and conferences; and 3. playing a more active role in supporting modern foreign languages at school and university level (even though many people already work on this).
Susan Hodgett pointed out that UKCASA has played an important role in maintaining Area Studies in REF. Once a new REF manager has been appointed, Tony Chafer will meet him early on to ensure there is no retreat. UKCASA was also able to nominate many REF panel members.
Delegates agreed that UKCASA’s case might be strengthened by finding out how big the membership of member associations is. Delegates also discussed how to organise additional events. In addition to encouraging panels across areas (e.g. migration) in Area Studies Conferences, UKCASA could also encourage comparative discussions on forms of interdisciplinary work in Area Studies, or on the different ways in which knowledge on different areas is constructed through different intellectual traditions etc.
Most associations have renewed their support for UKCASA, which now has £1,200.73. This should be enough for the year if no major events are planned.
Announcements from Member Associations
All organisations in relatively good shape – annual/ biennial conferences are planned and levels of activity are stable. It appeared to some observers that European Studies was not quite as healthy as South Asian and to a lesser degree African Studies.
There were no volunteers for the position of the Secretary.
Susan Hodgett (Ulster University), Rod Rhodes (Southampton), and Mark Bevir (University of Berkeley) have received funding from the AHRC for a research network: ‘Blurring Genres Network: Recovering the Humanities for Political Science and Area Studies’.
The network will bring together experts to explore the ways in which research methodologies associated with the Arts and Humanities are being recovered by political scientists, area studies scholars and policy makers internationally.
Statement from HEFCE
The Government has asked us to consider what support may be required for subjects in order to avoid undesirable reductions in the scale of provision. We use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative evidence to forecast and monitor the availability of subjects on a regular basis. Where we consider there to be significant evidence of risk to the future availability of a subject, alongside evidence of the strategic importance of this subject, there may be a need for intervention.
Our new policy takes account of the broad changes in the funding of higher education. We are currently inviting views on this approach to SIVS through our consultation on teaching funding. The deadline for responses is 25 May 2012. The Board paper below also sets out in more detail our new policy in this area.
Full details on HEFCE website