Last chance for campaigners as over 45,000 people sign petition to save University of Sheffield archaeology department

A student says she is “campaigning right up to the wire” to save the University of Sheffield’s archaeology department from closure as a final decision looms next week.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:12 am
PhD Bronwen Stone (left) and lab technician and PhD student Yvette Marks (right) hold up banner showing the number of people who have signed a petition in support of the archaeology department.

Bronwen Stone, who started her PhD at the department in January, believes that the university will be making a mistake if they go ahead with the plan to close the world-leading department on Monday July 12.

A change.org petition to save the department has so far garnered over 45,000 signatures and it is hoped it could reach 50,000.

Bronwen said: “It’s an incredibly humongous number of people supporting a petition to save a local university department.

“It’s not just local, or national, its international.

"We’ve also had 2,200 letters of support for the campaign.

“My fear is that the university doesn’t care.

“The department is vital, it gives the university kudos.

“They spent years building up a reputation in Sheffield before being run down deliberately. Staff weren’t fired but they weren’t replaced.”

Brownen thinks that there are two main reasons why the university wants to shut down the department.

She said: “It’s about money. Archaeology graduates with degrees get into jobs that don’t pay as much money, so they don’t pay their loans back for a few years.

"Another factor is that archaeology doesn’t attract A* students, but the grade requirements are still high.”

The current entry requirements for an undergraduate degree in archaeology at University of Sheffield is ABB.

Bronwen completed her master’s degree in archaeology at the University of Sheffield.

She added: “I was so impressed that I started a PhD in January.

“I keep asking what’s going to happen to us if they close the department. They say we’ll be looked after, but we have a special relationship with our supervisors.

"I have three and a half years left and my supervisors can’t be guaranteed a job.

“I don’t think that they’ve thought it through."

“I think of it as a supermarket. Supermarkets know certain products make more money than others, but they know you have to have range of products for your customers.

"We have to have the mix and I fear that soon the university won’t have that mix.

“I think it will be regretted.”

"INVALUABLE” – read how department has made an impact in Sheffield here

In May, protests were held over the proposed closure before it was discussed by the university executive board.

That board recommended closing the department and that ‘key areas of strength are aligned to other University departments, with enhanced investment for excellence.’

A final decision will be made on the future of the department at a university council meeting on Monday July 12.