The student body and wider archaeology community has responded with anger to the decision by the senior management at the Bangor University, to cut the University’s single honours archaeology course from 2017. The course is currently rated 8th in the UK Complete University Guide, but critics allege that the decision was taken without warning or consultation.
Writing in the English language Bangor student magazine Seren, Matt Rowland reported,
“The decision was made without consultation of staff working within the school of History, Welsh History and Archaeology, students studying the relevant subjects or stakeholders. If the decision is to remain in place, it would most likely result in a number of leading archaeologists losing their jobs at Bangor university, which would in turn have repercussions for students currently studying any History, Archaeology or Heritage courses at Bangor university.”
In the same article Professor Raimond Karl commented that the decision was made in the face of the growing need for trained archaeologists to service archaeological conditions attached to the string of forthcoming large infrastructure projects such as HS2 adding,
“…the University management apparently is unaware of all these facts, because it has not properly consulted and not properly thought through its decision. Instead of arbitrarily cutting successful units, it should properly consult and refrain from taking hasty, ill-informed steps that will cause more harm than good to everyone affected.”
The row has now reached outside of the University with a petition being launched on the website Change,org currently standing at over 1800 names.
In a comment on the petition page Dr Aleksandra McClain, Lecturer at the University of York, summed up the opinion of many in the heritage sector when she wrote,
“I am profoundly against this one-sided decision by the university, which will so badly affect my colleagues at Bangor, as well as their students. Closing a successful archaeology degree when the UK is currently in dire need of trained archaeologists in order to carry out major infrastructure projects such as HS2 is ludicrous, and it is short-sighted as well, as archaeology degrees are exceptional vehicles for training well-rounded, critically thinking students who also gain a wide range of interdisciplinary and transferable skills, applicable to any career they wish to pursue. Please reconsider this appalling decision.”
Meanwhile it is being reported that the University of Bangor’s Academic and Academic-related Staff Union (UCU) has written to the University to remind senior management who took the decision that they have a legal duty to consult on the proposed closure of the archaeology degree course.
However, following so closely on the decision by exam provider AQA to axe A-Level Archaeology, also without consultation, the action by Bangor may well add to the sense of threat to archaeology as a discipline at all levels of education and leave practitioners and representative bodies such as the Council for British Archaeology and the CiFA concerned that, when push comes to shove in the commercialised world of modern education, archaeology is an easy hit to save money because the sector has never to date managed to mobilise any coordinated, public and politically damaging opposition to repeated cuts.
Adding to the fears for archaeology at Bangor Robert Smith wrote on Facebook,
“They did the same with theology 6 years ago, then shut the department.”