Sheffield University ‘will continue to support staff and students’, after strike ballot warning over closure of archaeology department closure

Sheffield University bosses say they will continue to support staff and students over the closure of its archaeology department, after unions revealed they would ballot over possible strike.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 11:10 pm

The University’s Council met on Monday evening to discuss the recommendation to close the department, deciding to close it but saying it will continue to teach archaelogy within other departments.

For undergraduate courses, the University currently has fewer than 10 firm offer holders for archaeology for the academic year 2021-22.

Members of the University and College Union have voted to ballot for industrial action over the decision. It is not yet known what any industrial action would involve if the ballot supports it.

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

In a meeting of over 200 members, University of Sheffield UCU voted to ballot for ‘sustained industrial action’ during the autumn semester if the university does not reverse its decision.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The University is 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 students choosing to read archaeology, as has been experienced by many other leading universities.

“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.

“We will continue to support our staff and students through this process, and will work with them collaboratively as we consider how to take the recommendation forward.”