LMS meeting February 2009

Note of meeting held on 12 February 2009 to discuss the Society's grants made to BMCs

Present: Charles Goldie (LMS General Secretary and LMS representative on the BMC Scientific Committee), Stephen Huggett (LMS Programme Secretary), Peter Giblin (Chair, BMC Scientific Committee), Peter Cooper (LMS Executive Secretary)

The aim of the meeting was to review the principles on which the LMS awarded grants to the annual BMCs. The LMS remains firmly committed to supporting the BMC and to the principles of the Memorandum drawn up in 2004. However, over the years the funding needs of the BMC organisers have changed and 'custom and practice' on both sides have led to there being assumed conditions and expectations. The intention was to re-establish the basis on which the LMS offers financial support to BMC organisers.

The following points were agreed.

1. The LMS is awarding a grant to each BMC from its responsive-mode grants scheme (specifically Scheme 1). As far as possible, for simplicity and transparency, the normal procedures for applying for, assessing,
awarding and using a Scheme 1 grant should be followed in the case of the BMC grant, but recognising that there were special factors in respect of the BMCs which would affect some aspects.

2. The LMS grant is to contribute to the costs of a BMC and of any element it decides to support; there is no expectation or assumption that the LMS intends to meet the full costs.

3. BMC organisers should be able to make an application for support for any activity within the scope of Scheme 1. Organisers should be aware, however:
(a) of costs that the Society would not allow, or was unlikely to support - these include room hire costs and secretarial assistance;
(b) of components of a BMC which the LMS is particularly keen to support - these include support for international invited speakers and activities involving research students.

4. The LMS allows some additional flexibility and latitude in grant applications from BMCs, recognising their special circumstances and the value of BMCs to the mathematical community. A grant application for a larger sum than the normal maximun for Scheme 1 will be considered (£10k in 2008) and applications will be considered (and a grant awarded and payable) up to three years ahead of a BMC. The LMS recognises that, on such a timescale, the organisers may have a less detailed programme and financial budget than the LMS would normally require for grant applications. The LMS may, as a consequence, make an interim award and/or hold back parts of an award pending further details and clarification.

5. The LMS expects BMC organisers to follow the Society's general policy on the level of registration fees (normally £10-20/day in 2008). The LMS is strongly of the view that the host university should not impose substantial room hire charges in its own mathematics department's hosting of the event. The need to cap the registration fee in order to secure an LMS grant should be used by BMC organisers in their negotiations with their institutions.

6. The LMS's original aim in indicating support for 'satellite' meetings of the BMC was to assist in maximising both the use of good speakers visiting the UK for BMCs and to feed participants to BMCs. It is not apparent that that is always being achieved. The LMS should leave open the opportunity for satellite meetings to make an application for a grant but not explicitly refer to such events. The LMS should make clear that it will not normally support meetings that may have the effect of reducing attendance at a BMC.

7. The Programme Committee would welcome a member of the BMC Scientific Committee (but not an organiser of a BMC applying for or in receipt of an LMS grant) to observe a meeting of the Programme Committee, to see the assessment and awarding procedure in operation.

8. It would be useful to future BMC organisers for the BMC Scientific Committee, in consultation with the LMS, to draw up a set of notes on organising a BMC incorporating the guidelines and principles above.

Peter Cooper
18 February 2009