Archaeology Office to be HISTORY

It has emerged that the University plans to close the Archaeology Office

Cuts, financial constraints, increased burden on students… these are the mantras of recent university spending reviews. However, in the Archaeology Department, these Thick-of-It style phrases have suddenly become real, personal and aggressive.

The department, one of the strongest in the country, with an excellent research rating and reputation, is known throughout the discipline for its friendly atmosphere and warmth. This strength of community has brought reknowned names, big conferences and research and commercial money to Southampton University, despite its relatively small stature compared to the “big guns” at Oxbridge.

It is also frequently commented upon by students, and may be one of the most relaxed and happy departments in the university as a whole. This ethos springs from a single room on the ground floor of the Crawford building: the archaeology office.

Manned by Jim and Sandra, it provides in-depth support and help for undergrads, postgrads, staff and visitors, a friendly and knowledgeable ear and a warm welcome for a chat and a cuppa.

The achievements of the office in creating this fantastic working environment and maintaining a stellar commitment to students were recently recognised by the presentation of a Vice Chancellor’s Award to Sandra Plumb, that shoulder to cry on and rock of the entire department.

This little Eden, hidden behind Avenue Campus in its flint clad building, is now under threat. It has emerged that the University plans to close the Archaeology Office, removing discipline specific services and the first port of call for any student concern. This shocking plan, so soon after the importance of the Office was recognised by Sandra’s award, has sent a furious jolt through the department as a whole. The destruction of the carefully maintained and beloved atmosphere of Southampton Archaeology, the professionalism of its commercial unit, the smooth running of teaching and research, are all under threat. However, the welfare of students is the clearest victim of this sabotage. When fees are announced to rise to up to £9,000 (which, being in the Russell Group, Southampton is sure to charge), student services are more important than ever before. In this action, it is clear that students may pay more, but they will certainly get less.

Who has not had to queue for over half an hour in the Student Services building? How can their able and kind staff cope with the plethora of discipline specific issues with which they will be faced? The reduction in services to students will be as damaging as teaching budget slashing, and this vicious undermining of Southampton Archaeology’s characteristic warmth and enthusiasm, the very draw-factor for students and staff alike, will not only affect working conditions and student satisfaction, but is bound to result in a loss of revenue- proving itself totally counterproductive.

If you agree that the removal of discipline specific student support is a disgraceful attack on student services at this time when students are harder pressed than ever before, please sign the petition in the archaeology building, and save the human aspect of university study before it is too late.