Higher Education threats

What’s happening? 

The recently announced decision to severely cut the Department of Archaeology at Sheffield University, and the Department of Archaeology & History at the University of Chester have provoked fears that this may be the start of a trend of increasing threats to archaeology departments across England, at least, and possibly, the whole of the UK.

Separately, a decision by the Office for Students (OfS) to effectively cut Government ‘high- cost subject’ funding for archaeology (among other subjects) from £250 to £125 per student per year (this is added to the up to £9000 of student fees). This affects only England. CIfA has been lobbying Government to reverse the decision to protect expensive elements of lab-based and fieldwork teaching.

Position summary:

CIfA is working closely with University Archaeology UK (UAUK) and others in the sector to consider the financial situation facing archaeology departments and will be supporting departments where we can. Lobbying on the OfS cuts is continuing. CIfA is keen to promote positive messages about the study of archaeology – both for the profession and wider society, and wishes to champion archaeology as a vibrant and exciting subject to study. We will be working with the CBA to champion higher education particularly through the Festival of Archaeology this July.

What are we asking for?

We are asking Government to

  • reverse the decision to cut higher cost subject funding to archaeology subjects, in recognition of its expensive STEM elements and fieldwork components, which contribute to both the training of professional archaeologists and wider transferable skills
  • recognise the value of higher education degree courses
  • support a strategic approach to maintaining a sustainable provision of teaching archaeology in Higher Education Institutions (we will be working to evidence such a strategy with UAUK and others soon).

Cuts to individual universities:

University of Sheffield:

The University Executive Board voted on 25th May to discontinue archaeology as a coherent and core subject, but retain aspects of archaeological research and education (human osteology and cultural heritage specifically to be merged into other departments), and make remaining staff redundant.

The department is acknowledged as being understaffed, but that previously approved new posts were scrapped due to the pandemic.

University of Chester: 

Staff delivering archaeology and heritage programmes at Chester were sent notifications that their posts were ‘at risk’ on Thursday 1 April 2021, just before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.