Indological funding pie

Mon Mar 20 15:54:53 UTC 2000

> The undergraduate course in Sanskrit at SOAS is the latest thing to
> go. There will be no intake for the 2000/2001 academic year, and
> the course has effectively been cancelled until further notice

The current situation at SOAS is just the latest installament of a
process that has been going on since the late 60s when I was an
undergrad there.  The then director, C Phillips, had an early
"Thatcherite" vision of "value for money" -- courses deemed to be
commercially/business  orientated and desirable were encourages while
those that were not were pruned.  Dominik may know of the saga
involving the professorship for Indian Philosophy.  Other staff were
pressurized to take early retirement with their courses shut down --
Sanskrit is just one language to have got the axe and there are a
number of others.
The library is also on the verge of collapse for lack of funding --
very few "specialist" books are purchased these days in most

My overall impression is that the much of the teaching at SOAS, in
areas I am familiar with, is symptomatically of poor quality these
days -- for example, the teaching of Buddhism is hardly adequate but
is often used as a platform to deride Buddhist doctrines under the
guise of "academic objectivity" -- despite complaints from Asian
students upon whom SOAS relies for funding !  Sanskrit is/was poorly
taught without any imagination using an antiquated text-book.  The
place is also rife with nepotism with posts regularly allocated to
cronies -- the interview process is often a complete sham.  Little
wonder half the students spend most of their time in the bar smoking

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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