This is a report from the Save Our Sociology campaign at Birmingham University. Check out the campaign’s facebook group, listed in the Links section of this blog.
On 10th November last year, the management of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham called a meeting to announce proposals to close the department of Sociology. The proposals included the cancellation of the Media, Culture and Society degree programme, the moving of the Sociology degree course into the department of Social Policy, and the reduction of teaching staff from 17 to 3 and administrative staff from 3 to 1.
The campaign against these proposals, called Save Our Sociology (SOS), was set up immediately by students who published a website, an e-petition and a Facebook group to generate publicity for the cause. By the end of the week, the e-petition had received over 4,000 signatures and to date has received 6,971. Students also collected over 1,000 signatures on the paper petition.
A protest of 18th November saw 300 students, members of staff, and union representatives congregate outside the meeting of Senate over the proposals to make their voices heard. The protest was covered in the local and national press. We found out later that Senate were not allowed to vote either way. A protest of 26th November saw a march of over 100 people across campus, ending outside the University Council’s meeting over the proposals.
Despite the petition, the protests, and the letters and phone calls to the University by students and parents expressing their dismay, management are nevertheless going ahead and we are now in a ‘consultation’ period. They say that no final decision has been taken, and that this consultation will enable us to have a say in the future of our department, but many of us are reluctant to believe this, especially given the evidence of how we have been ignored and marginalised already regarding this process.
So far our plans for next term include organising regular campaign meetings and holding a public debate on the issue of cuts in Higher Education.