Last week, members of the Politics Department at the University of Surrey were told by their managers that they would be effectively closed down in the summer, with a reduction of 14 staff to five teaching-only posts, and no guarantee of employment for anyone presently in the Department. The Department had been ranked 6th in Politics in this year’s Guardian Subject League Table, 4th in the NSS 2014 with an overall satisfaction rate of 97%, and 17th in the Complete University Guide 2014. Thanks to a rapid reaction and online campaign immediately following this, as well as discussions with the Political Studies Association over the last week this decision appears to be under review. The initial proposal however remains on the table at the time of writing. To follow unfolding events, please go to the Facebook page set up by a support group, and follow the Twitter account @surreypolgrads. Many are using the hashtag #savesurreypolitics.
The below is an open letter originating from members of the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London.
Update 26th March: following much enthusiasm, the open letter is now available for all to sign and we have edited according. Please respond in the comments section with your name, role and institution where relevant, and do forward to colleagues.
We, the undersigned, wish to express our grave concern regarding the proposed restructuring of the Politics Department at University of Surrey. We understand that the majority of the academic staff in the department are in danger of losing their jobs, and have been given little opportunity for effective recourse.
We note that the decision to restructure comes at a time when the Surrey Politics Department has just been ranked 6th in the UK in the Guardian University Subject League Table 2015, 4th in the 2014 National Student Survey (NSS) with overall satisfaction of 97%, and 17th in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2014. Instead of being lauded for these achievements, our colleagues at Surrey’s Department of Politics are now facing the prospect of redundancies, which are being justified based on results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The use of REF rankings as a means of legitimizing the restructuring or closure of departments is a distortion of the original intent and purpose of the exercise. Such actions call into question the nature and appropriateness of the entire REF exercise.
We call on the senior management of the University of Surrey to reconsider their decision to restructure the Politics Department, and urge them to reinstate the positions of those staff members who have been threatened with redundancy. Furthermore, we call on the appropriate professional bodies and organizations such as the Political Studies Association (PSA), British International Studies Association (BISA), British Academy, Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU), Universities UK, and the University and College Union (UCU) to publicly denounce the use of the REF exercise as a managerial tool for justifying problematic “restructuring” schemes.
Reem Abou-El-Fadl, Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East
Fiona Adamson, Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Professor of Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies
Rochana Bajpai, Senior Lecturer in Politics
Felix Berenskoetter, Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Michael Buehler, Lecturer in Comparative Politics
Stephen Chan, OBE, Professor of International Relations
Phil Clark, Reader in Comparative and International Politics
Bhavna Dave, Senior Lecturer in Politics of Central Asia
Matthew Eagleton-Pierce, Lecturer in International Political Economy
Michael Farquhar, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Dafydd Fell, Reader in Comparative Politics with reference to Taiwan
Alastair Fraser, Lecturer in African Politics
Enze Han, Senior Lecturer in the International Security of East Asia
Salwa Ismail, Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East, and Head of Department
Laleh Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics
Yuka Kobayashi, Lecturer in China and International Politics
Tat Yan Kong, Reader in International and Comparative Political Economy
Mark Laffey, Senior Lecturer in International Politics
Matthew J Nelson, Reader in Politics
Rahul Rao, Senior Lecturer in Politics
Manjeet Ramgotra, Senior Teaching Fellow
Meera Sabaratnam, Lecturer in International Relations
Lawrence Saez, Professor in the Political Economy of Asia
Julia C Strauss, Professor of Chinese Politics
Kristin Surak, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Politics
Charles R H Tripp, FBA, Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East
Leslie Vinjamuri, Senior Lecturer in International Relations
Hedi Viterbo, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow
Christine Cheng, Lecturer, War Studies, King’s College London
Natasha Kuhrt, Lecturer, War Studies, King’s College London
Ned Lebow, Professor, War Studies, King’s College London
Reinoud Leenders, Reader, War Studies, King’s College London
Susan Martin, Lecturer, War Studies, King’s College London
Phil Sabin, Professor, War Studies, King’s College London