Admin cuts lead to loss of history centre at Glasgow

A long-running funding row has led to an HEA budget review and reorganisation. John Gill reports

February 14, 2008

The Higher Education Academy's Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology is to lose its University of Glasgow base after a long-running internal dispute over funding.

The centre is still without a history team, after its two history directors and its history administrator resigned a year ago because, they said, their subject was not getting its fair share of funding and too much money was being spent on administration.

Now it has emerged that the HEA has made cuts to spending on administration and the centre will lose its administrative headquarters at Glasgow, where it has six central staff members.

Norton Miller, web development officer at the Glasgow centre, is being made redundant in March after six years in the job. He said the centre "has always had difficulties" because each of the three subject areas has its own director and division at separate universities.

"There were rumblings from the start about mishandling of finances," Mr Miller said. "Some of the subjects thought they deserved more of the budget and were unhappy that they weren't getting it.

"The history representatives resigned in a huff, and the HEA began an external review that decided, among other things, that we didn't need any web development, so the funds were withdrawn for my position.

"To cap this, the University of Glasgow decided it had had enough of the nonsense and last month wrote to the HEA and said that after 31 July it no longer wished to host the centre."

Neither the university nor any of the subject centre directors would comment. But when the history directors quit last year, Colin Brooks, the overall director of the Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology, denied claims that too much was spent on administration at Glasgow.

He said that the university co-ordinated a range of activities that united all parts of the centre and that a significant proportion of money going to Glasgow was fed back into the disciplines.

David Sadler, the HEA's director of networks, said: "Following an independent review of the centre, which consulted with people teaching all three subjects, we are reducing the proportion of funding that goes on administration to free more money for the individual subjects.

"All three subjects will be better funded from next year. Proportionally more money will go to the biggest subject area, history, than the two smaller subjects, Classics and archaeology."

He confirmed that the centre was losing its base. He said: "The academy and the University of Glasgow are at an advanced stage in discussions to move the administration of the centre to a different institution at the end of the current academic year and to ensure academics get continuously excellent service.

"Subject experts in archaeology and classics will continue to be based at Liverpool and Durham (universities) respectively. We will be recruiting a history team to support this subject."

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