Dear Professor Corner,

We are writing on behalf of the British Sociological Association, to express our very deep concern about the proposed redundancies that affect sociologists within the Department of Sociology.

We understand the financial difficulties that many universities are facing in the context of inflation, fixed tuition fees for Home students, and the differential effect of the removal of the cap on student numbers. However, we believe that Goldsmiths University’s reaction to declare redundancies of up to 54% of FTE staff in the Department of Sociology will be highly detrimental for the university and local community.

We are in no doubt that this move will have profoundly negative consequences for sociological education and research at Goldsmiths University. Sociologists within the Department are highly regarded subject specialists and contribute significantly to the research culture of Sociology nationally and internationally. Sociology at Goldsmiths makes a unique contribution with its focus on ‘live sociology’, which provides essential commentary and analysis of contemporary events.

The loss of any Sociology staff at Goldsmiths could additionally result in adverse consequences for the next REF as well as creating potentially serious gaps in teaching and support for students. The Sociology Department provides supervision for 42 MPhil/ Phd students who may be left without the supervision they require to complete their research. It also provides quantitative methods training across Goldsmiths, which is a condition of the University membership of the ESRC’s SeNSS training partnership.

The Sociology Department is firmly embedded within Lewisham Borough. It plays a crucial role in widening participation to Goldsmiths of otherwise excluded groups. Many of the Department’s students are first-in-family and are from a wide range of minoritized ethnic groups. The diversity of staff members is crucial in attracting this cohort to study at Goldsmiths, and any change in this diversity of the staff group could negatively affect widening participation for the University as a whole.

Sociology as a discipline is an essential part of any vibrant University portfolio of teaching and research. It plays a vital role in the formation of, for example, policy at local and national levels. It also equips students with the flexible, creative and analytical skills necessary for employment in the workplace of today and the future. Losing the staff who provide those skills would therefore affect student employability in the medium and long term.

On behalf of the British Sociological Association, we ask you to reconsider this deeply damaging decision and to urgently examine how to protect and promote the valuable contribution made by Sociologists and colleagues across Goldsmiths University, students and the wider communities that benefit from their teaching expertise and research excellence. We urge you to consider alternative ways of addressing the financial constraints that you face.

Professor Rachel Brooks
President of the British Sociological Association

Professor Chris Yuill
Chair of the British Sociological Association

Letter sent via email to:

Warden Frances Corner, Goldsmiths University of London


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