Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Classics at Leeds under threat

The UK government recently imposed cuts on the overall grants given out to universities, making education shoulder its part of the UK government's need to cut costs. In a time of such cuts, arts and humanities subjects are vulnerable, as short-sighted utilitarians (wrongly) see them as economically unproductive. In that context, Classics is particularly vulnerable, as it is seen as elitist, old-fashioned, irrelevant and boring (all of which are wholly untrue).

We're already seeing the effects of the recession on Classics, even before this latest round of cuts was announced. The Open University has cut its intermediate Greek course, the University of Glasgow advertised for a post in Classics and then cancelled the search, and proposals were made at King's College London that included the loss of the Chair in Palaeography and two posts in Classical Art/Archaeology.

But the biggest threat so far is at Leeds, where one of the proposals being considered is to abolish the department altogether. I am absolutely flabbergasted that a long-standing institution such as Leeds could consider such a closure. On a personal note, when I was a postgraduate in Manchester, I used to visit Leeds regularly for seminars. I found the staff there to be amongst the most welcoming of departments I've ever encountered; I still enjoy catching up with them at conferences.

Members of staff at Leeds have set up a blog that explains the current situation, and there's a petition. If you care at all about Classics in the UK, and tertiary education in general, I urge you to sign it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While you're at it, Tony, Reading Classics Department has had its first meeting with HR and has been told that proposals to lose two jobs will go to Senate and Council in late June/early July.