Leaked - IAA closure papers

Defend Education has had its attention drawn to two documents that have made their way on to the internet in relation to the IAA closure here!  The first one is the original letter sent by the Head of IAA Professor Ken Dowden that recommended that his own department be closed and the second is the conclusions of the special review of the IAA that led to its closure. In addition to adding evidence to problems raised elsewhere, there are two points we would like to raise about this new information, and what it shows about the university.

Do your bit to protect the department by attending the “save the IAA rally - dig for the truth” Wednesday the 17th of October outside the main library 1pm. Invite your friends to the facebook event here.

More information about the IAA closure

UCU: http://birminghamucu.org/2012/09/28/the-university-of-birmingham-throws-in-the-trowel-as-college-buries-archaeology/,




From the Guild: http://guildofstudentsvpe.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/some-initial-thoughts-on-the-iaa-closure/

Previous from Defend Education http://www.defendeducationbrum.org/fearful-university-bosses-losing-control-statement-from-university-of-birmingham-defend-education/

Petition with over 1600 signatures http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-iaa/

Ken Dowden

Ken Dowden was director of the IAA for 7 years from 2005-2012[1]so it should probably make sense that if there were or are any problems with the IAA Professor Dowden should share a good deal of the blame. However the university have rewarded Dowden for his stewardship of the IAA by removing him from that sinking ship and making him the new head of the School of Philosophy Theology and Religion.  This almost certainly has something to do with the interim report he sent to the university calling on the IAA to be closed.

To see why the university have reacted this way you only need look at what has taken place in similar departments at other universities.  At Royal Holloway plans for a substantial restructuring of the classics department were defeated when the whole department stood together against them.  In effect what Professor Dowden has done is gained a promotion for himself by proposing that 16 of his staff are made redundant and decreasing the quality of education in his own subject.

By any normal metric of what a head of school should be doing Ken Dowden is a spectacularly bad choice. Having taught in classics departments for the majority of his career he has no particular academic qualifications for the subject that would distinguish him from others in the school; his record as director of the IAA cannot be considered very good by the university as they are deciding to close it; and considering the betrayal he has just committed of his former students and staff it seems unlikely that he has the trust or confidence of his new colleagues.

Rather Ken Dowden has received his new job in Philosophy Theology and Religion because he is a loyalist and a hatchet man for university management and any students or staff in Philosophy Theology and Religion should be worried.


The University have throughout the review consistently misled students and tried to make the facts of the closure as difficult to understand as possible.  We have isolated one paragraph in particular for almost incredible attempts to obscure meaning (3.3 in the report of the review)

“The quantitative evidence indicated, above all, that the activity delivered under the auspices of the IAA combined pockets of excellence with tranches of activity that fell significantly short of sectoral means. This was particularly the case with research quality where a significant tail was clearly visible everywhere but in CBOMGS, where the tail was limited. A similar pattern across the IAA was also evident for education quality and satisfaction scores.  The delivery of distinctive high-quality research and teaching activity, therefore, would require a reduction of the low quality tail, and an increase in modal performance, to create an activity which maximised the impact of genuine strengths, and provided a platform for investment and development. “

The reason that this language is adopted is that what the University saying, if translated into plain English, is laughable nonsense. They cannot come out and say that in order to have high quality research and teaching they need to cut 16 staff jobs. This approach of using language to obscure meaning and a general attempt to confuse IAA students has been used to try and hide the facts of the IAA closure from public eyes.

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