Campaigners gather in support of University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology ahead of senate meeting

Campaigners have come out in droves to support the University of Sheffield's Department of Archaeology on Monday as the university senate looks set to discuss its possible closure in two days' time.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 2:54 pm

The rally, which was held in front of the Student Union building on Firth Court saw students, teaching staff and members of the public defending their support for the department.

Despite the threatened closure, Professor Umberto Albarella was confident that the senate would be on their side, based on the meeting they had with the senators.

He said: "I'm totally positive about the senate because we had a preliminary meeting with some senators where they were willing to listen and understand.

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Dept of Archaeology rally at Sheffield University's Firth Court. Picture Scott Merrylees

"There was a big difference between them and our contacts with the deputy vice chancellor who never gave us the impression that she was interested in understanding."

He said whatever the decision is, they will not give up in their fights to defend for survival of the department.

"I don't want to be either optimistic or pessimistic. We are just focusing on our campaign and whatever happens, we will keep fighting.

"I hope the university council will rethink this because this would be tragic for the university, tragic for the city and the decision is going against the interest of the university and the city."

Dept of Archaeology rally at Sheffield University's Firth Court. Picture Scott Merrylees

The Senate, which oversees teaching and research and is responsible for academic quality and standards, will meet on June 23 to discuss the proposed closure before being considered by the University Council on July 12.

The School of Languages and Cultures also showed up in support of the department and the school of Arts and Humanities as a whole.

Professor Phil Swanson said: "It's a matter of integrity and principles. I think the students should be told about what's happening.

"The plan going forward would seriously compromise the ability and potential to achieve what they came here or will be coming here to achieve.

Dept of Archaeology rally at Sheffield University's Firth Court. Picture Scott Merrylees

"I am also very concerned about the effects on my colleagues, many of whom are suffering terribly.

"I believe that the arts and humanities more generally are really important to our world. Business and money are very important but a world which is not informed of the values of the humanities is a dangerous world and potentially not a very pleasant world to live in.”

Dr Paul O'Neill agreed: “I've come out in support of the arts and humanities and also the changes that are being proposed, which are material changes to our core modules in languages.

"These go against the Competition and Markets Authority's governmental guidelines on changes that could be enacted for students who are already studying here. And it could be challenged in law because it's against these guidelines."

Dept of Archaeology rally at Sheffield University's Firth Court. Picture Scott Merrylees

University of Sheffield s Executive Board (UEB) had proposed the closure of the Department of Archaeology following an institutional review late last month, triggering nationwide outrage.

They said, however, they will continue to support the discipline as it is no longer viable to maintain the status quo due to the declining numbers of students choosing the field.