Dear Professor Cox,

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 Health and Social Care BA programme.

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 the University of Kent’s reaction to declare redundancies without planning for their impact upon specific research and teaching programmes 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 the University of Kent. Senior sociologists within the Health and Social Care team are highly regarded subject specialists and contribute significantly to the research culture of Sociology nationally and internationally. Moreover, the targeting of redundancies on senior academics will have a detrimental effect locally in terms of their ability to lead and mentor early career colleagues at the University of Kent.

Their loss could result in adverse consequences for the next REF as well as creating potentially serious gaps in teaching and support for students. Sociologists within Health and Social Care make a significant and essential to health and social care research across the University. The absence of a sociological perspective in any such research limits what can be said about the wider causes of poor health and wellbeing.

Sociology as 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 the University of Kent, 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:

Professor Karen Cox
Vice Chancellor
University of Kent