Petition to save 'world leading' Sheffield University Archaeology Department racks up 8,000 signatures in a few hours

A petition to save a ‘world leading’ department in the University of Sheffield that is threatened with closure has racked up more than 8,000 signatures in just a few hours after it was launched today (May 20).

Sunday, 23rd May 2021, 2:42 pm

The petition, which was set up this morning, stands at around 8,450 signatures at the time of writing, with people all over the world signing.

Earlier today it was announced that the University of Sheffield's world-renowned Department of Archaeology is in danger of closure following an institutional review that could see its staff made redundant.

Yesterday a meeting which took place at the university yesterday between key staff and the University Executive Board.

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Archaeology staff and students outside Sheffield University's Ella Armitage building. Picture Scott Merrylees

There they decided that there are three options for the future of the department.

The people behind the petition say that two of these – the two that Professor Umberto Albarella at the department says are the most likely ones to be taken – will “effectively mean the end of Archaeology at Sheffield after the last cohort has graduated”.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “The University of Sheffield has undertaken a review of its Department of Archaeology. Staff and student representatives participated in the review, and no decisions have been taken.”

The University of Sheffield’s archaeology department has been in the city for more than 50 years.

Professor Albarella, who started at the department more than 20 years ago, said: “"The reaction has been amazing and the students are totally on our side and we are totally outraged by this because Sheffield has trained archaeologists who are now all over the world holding important positions. This is a great historic place.”

You can sign the petition to save the department here.

The options outlined in the institutional review are:

1. To investment in the Department with new posts and the development of new programmes.

2. To close the Department - but to honour commitments to existing students

3. To retain Archaeology as a discipline but not as a department - key programmes will be retained but re-aligned to other Departments in the University along with associated staff - we are told these would probably be two of our current masters programmes only. Again commitments to existing students would be honoured.

Professor Albarella said that options 2 and 3 are those most likely to be taken unless the University is persuaded otherwise.