SOAS ceases all publications and cancels Linguistics!

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UK.AC.UCL
Wed May 20 13:25:06 UTC 1992

Status: RO

On Monday this week the management committee of SOAS decided to
close the SOAS Publications' department, and also the Department
of Linguistics.  Later the same day, all staff members connected
with these departments were given notice that their contracts would
terminate in September 1992.
This means that the Bulletin of SOAS, a pillar of Indological
publication, will disappear, along with all other book series etc.
Discussions will be initiated with publishers like Blackwells
and OUP to see if they want to take over BSOAS, China Forum,
etc.  But it is hard to see how any publishing company will be able
to provide the specialized editorial functions which have until now been
supported by SOAS.
The loss of the complete Linguistics department is equally horrific.
The background to this -- as far as I can gather -- is further
cause for alarm.
Apparently SOAS has always received an annual special funding supplement
because the Department of Education recognised that Oriental and
African languages are needed by the nation, but will never get the
student numbers of other mainstream subjects.  This enabled SOAS to
have a higher staff:student ratio than other colleges of London
This year, the University Funding Council (UFC) forgot to pay the
special funding supplement, leaving SOAS with a financial shortfall
of 650,000 pounds this year.  But when the clerical error was discovered,
the UFC refused to make good the amount, and furthermore decided
that it would not reinstate the special funding in the future.
SOAS's response to this is to save money on the most expensive
part of their budget, namely staff salaries.
I think INDOLOGY members will agree that the whole story is
incredible for many reasons, but nevertheless it is true.  It is
hard to avoid the impression of farcical mismanagement by the UFC
and a devastatingly inadequate response from SOAS itself.  Perhaps
there are mitigating facts that have not yet come to light, but if
so, they are not known to the staff members at SOAS who have been
sacked, nor to other staff members.
Letters of protest should be addressed to
  Mr. Michael McWilliam,
  School of Oriental and African Studies,
  Thornhaugh Street,
  Russell Square,
  London WC1H 0XG

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