Ignorance of funders

January 3, 1997

WE NOTE and support the chorus of criticism over the classification of geography and psychology as "classroom-based" disciplines (THES, December 20). Like them, archaeology is believed to have been placed in the lowest funding price group in the HEFCE Funding Method for Teaching document. This displays a disquieting ignorance of archaeology.

For many years, archaeology has been a laboratory, computer and field-based discipline and one which makes extensive use of high-technology equipment of the sort commonly found in engineering and earth science departments. It was in recognition of this fact that archaeology had been placed previously in a part-laboratory funding band and, indeed, an additional special factor funding element was applied to a number of heavily science-based departments. The threatened loss of fee income would damage higher-cost teaching areas and could lead to staff losses and conceivably to departmental closures. Archaeology was placed fifth in the THES League of 69 subject areas on the basis of the weighted RAE average (5.492).

This truly world-class performance will be irreparably damaged if archaeology is forced to languish in the classroom-based funding group.

PROFESSOR K. J. EDWARDS Department of archaeology and prehistory, University of Sheffield; PROFESSOR A. M. POLLARD Department of archaeological sciences, University of Bradford; PROFESSOR E. A. SLATER, Department of archaeology, University of Liverpool; PROFESSOR M. S. TITE Research laboratory for archaeology, University of Oxford

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