Anger as Sheffield University confirms closure of respected archaeology department

University of Sheffield bosses have confirmed they are closing its internationally respected archaeology department.

By David Kessen
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 7:27 am

The move comes despite a 42,000 name petition opposing the closure, and was condemned yesterday by unions and campaigners

Sheffield’s branch of lecturers union UCU tweeted: “This decision is beyond short sighted. It lets down our university and the broader community, and it indicates serious and systemic deficiencies in our governance structures.”

Dr Hugh Willmott, medieval archaeologist and lecturer, tweeted: “Many of you will have heard already, the University Council has confirmed the closure of @UniShefArch.

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A rally to save the archaeology department at the University of Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

“We had the most unprofessional and disrespectful meeting I've ever experienced with the VC (vice chancellor). It lasted just 13 mins and our mics were silenced. Disgusting.”

Dr John Howard tweeted: “Usually v. proud to say I'm a @sheffielduni alumni, but not so much today. An awful short-sighted, money-grubbing decision that will damage the uni's reputation even more than it already has and by the time everyone can say "told you so" it'll be too late.”

Masters student Nicola Barber added: "So the department of archaeology in Sheffield is to close. The exec board railroaded this through, gaslighted students and had exec sat on every decision board. Ethically and morally wrong on all levels…. They will regret this decision.”

Vice chancellor Prof Koen Lamberts, said this evening the University was determined to secure the future of archaeology in Sheffield in the face of a very challenging external environment which has seen a significant decline in the number of archaeology students.

A rally to save the archaeology department at the University of Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

He said: “The decision by University Council to ratify the Board’s recommended course of action, following a review of the Department of Archaeology, does not alter the outcome that archaeology will continue to be taught and researched in Sheffield.

“Not only will we maintain and support archaeology at the University, we will work with our colleagues and partners to ensure it thrives through focusing on postgraduate studies and investing in key areas of excellence which have contributed to Sheffield’s reputation as a top 100 global university with world-leading research and innovation.

“This decision will ensure that many fantastic projects and the outstanding work our staff and students undertake with partners and communities within the city and far beyond it will continue to enrich our cultural heritage, knowledge of the past and people’s lives.”

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