Dazed and Confused: Professor Eastwood praises Flagship IAA projects – (whilst College of Arts and Law put the same staff at threat of redundancy!)

At the graduation ceremony on the 9th of July, Vice Chancellor Professor David Eastwood gave a speech extolling the virtues of several archaeological projects, including Stonehenge (which was also reported on in a recent Alumni magazine), which he claimed represented flagship projects at Birmingham. Dig for Shakespeare was also singled out as an example of how Birmingham were involved in groundbreaking research and community outreach.

UCU would like to point out that the public views expressed by the Vice Chancellor directly contradict the findings of the recent review of the IAA, as a result of which the College of Arts and Law (CAL) is dismissing the same world-leading research.

The IAA review update of July 2012 reports that the main activity that will cease is ‘contract or project archaeology’. In contrast to the Vice Chancellor, CAL management have identified the research at Dig for Shakespeare as a good example of the kind of public engagement project that the University of Birmingham should not be doing. It has been identified as a project which represents‘commercial, contract work’ and the staff involved are now all at risk of redundancy. Another world leading project praised by the Vice Chancellor, ‘The Stonehenge project’ is yet another archaeology project where it has been proposed to make the majority of the research staff redundant.

The Vice Chancellor was also happy to mention Dr. Jeff Rose (an academic in Archaeology who is on a fixed term contract), winner of a National Geographic Emerging Explorer award, calling him a new upcoming academic and pioneer. Whilst Dr. Rose has been rightly lauded by Prof. Eastwood as a world leading researcher, Dr Rose, a member of the archaeology department on a fixed term contract (thus not even included in the redundancy figures), was told by the Head of the IAA prior to the review that the University would no longer support his UoB affiliation. This position by CAL management has prevented a researcher, whom the Vice Chancellor acknowledges to be pioneering, from even applying for grants to continue his research. Such an inflexible treatment is potentially damaging to what is internationally acknowledged as a promising career. The timing of this further suggests that the outcomes of the preceding review were pre-decided.

The claim of Prof. Michael Whitby (head of CAL) that CAL will continue to support archaeology is disingenuous. The University is planning up to 14 redundancies in Archaeology which would constitute the majority of those working in dedicated archaeological posts at the University. The University’s insistence that it is committed to the subject of archaeology by pointing out that a number of staff outside the IAA have ‘archaeological interests’ appears rather strained when compared with that number. Research that includes aspects of archaeology is not the same as years of subject specific experience and international research profiles, and this number of redundancies will undoubtedly have an effect on the provision of archaeology at our University.

BUCU continues to oppose the closure of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity.

Sign the petition – Save the IAA – http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-iaa/ – already 1000 signatures collected

Sign the petition – Extend the 90-day consultation period – http://www.change.org/petitions/the-university-of-birmingham-extend-the-consultation-period-of-the-iaa-merger-review


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.