King's College Palaeography

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 15 08:29:26 UTC 2010

Well, as you probably know, Greg, I was made redundant myself last year by
University College London.  The redundancy procedures were interesting to
observe (less fun to experience).  There are lots of written rules issued by
Human Resources that are meant to protect staff from redundancy, such as
pooling of a department's staff to see whether a member's job can be saved
through natural attrition, etc.  But in the event, these protective rules
are implemented very weakly or not at all.  Nobody at the level of deans
really seems to care about individual teaching staff, and research staff are
at the very bottom of the pile, and extremely vulnerable.

I am now at the University of Vienna, and very glad to be here.  It's a fine
place with many south asianists and much serious work going on.  In the last
budget, late last year, the Austrian Government kept funding levels for
academic research level, and didn't cut them (as best I understand) in spite
of the crunch.  There are serious pressures here too, but they seem to
revolve more around the problems arising out of the deep restructuring
required by the Bologna Process rather than financial hardship.   There were
wide-scale student campus protests and occupations a few months ago, which
were about over-crowding of classrooms and other issues.

I am no longer particularly close to what's happening in the UK, but I still
get get some admin emails from UCL and I know they are going through
terrible convulsions with threatened redundancies and so forth, rather like
KCL.  The Unions are in action, and have never been more sorely needed.

What distresses me most is the lack of creative vision or grasp of knowledge
and discovery processes by the college principles and provosts, and of
course the government ministers.  All issues are viewed relentlessly through
the metaphor of business and productivity, instead of education and
creativity.  And a deep and hostile cleavage has developed in most British
universities between the senior administrators, deans and provosts, etc.,
and the working teachers and researchers (faculty).  It's like some
Victorian scenario of pit owners and miners.

Britain no longer has a government department of Education.  As of last
June, universities are the responsibility of the "Department for Business,
Innovation, and Skills" (see
that is mostly made up of the old "Department of Trade."  The word
University isn't even part of the Department's title any longer.  And the
"vision" if one can dignify it with that word, is purely financial.  Lord
Mandelson is the head man.  The opening words of the Department's

Our mission is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating
> the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and
> science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To
> achieve this we will foster world-class universities and promote an open
> global economy.

They're not ashamed of such a view, rather they trumpet it.

The related rise of the "audit culture" that has been happein in higher
education in Britain for two decades or more was brilliantly analysed in,

Cris Shore and Susan Wright, "Audit Culture and Anthropology: Neo-Liberalism
in British Higher Education", *The Journal of the Royal Anthropological
Institute*, Vol. 5, No. 4. (Dec., 1999), pp. 557-575. [stable

and revisited at greater length in,

Marilyn Strathern (ed), *Audit Cultures: Anthropological Studies in
Accountability, Ethics and the Academy* (Routledge, 2000).ISBN-13:
978-0415233279. [Google


On 15 February 2010 05:56, Greg Bailey <greg.bailey at> wrote:

> Dear Dominik,
> This is appalling and it is not just an attack on the individual but on the
> humanities in general, if not of social-democratic values as well.
> I read an article in the Melbourne Age today quoting something from the
> Guardian to the effect that thousands of jobs are to be lost in British
> universities.  Is that true? If so it will percolate elsewhere in the
> Anglo-Saxon world, if not outside of it.
> Cheers,
> Greg Bailey
> On 15/02/10 3:45 PM, "Dominik Wujastyk" <wujastyk at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> > Dear colleague,
> >
> > News is circulating that the Chair of Palaeography at King's College
> London,
> > David Ganz, is about to lose his job since KCL is in the process of
> > eradicating 22 jobs in a manner that appears crude and inefficient.
> >
> > Teaching staff at KCL have raised the idea of college-wide salary
> reductions
> > as a way of saving actual jobs and avoiding cuts like this, but at a
> meeting
> > last week the college management dismissed such a collegial approach on
> the
> > grounds that it was "not progressive".
> >
> > Here is part of the text from the Facebook page (see link below for full
> > information):
> >
> > King¹s College London is undertaking what they call Œstrategic
> >> disinvestment¹ and have informed our colleague, David Ganz, on Tuesday
> that
> >> funding for the Chair in Palaeography will cease from 31 August this
> year,
> >> when David will be out of a job. This is part of a wider context whereby
> all
> >> academic staff in the School of Arts and Humanities at King¹s have to
> >> re-apply for their own jobs before the 1st March. They think this the
> ³most
> >> humane way² of losing 22 academic posts.
> >>
> >
> >
> >> KCL's Chair is the only established chair in Palaeography in the UK
> (held
> >> by our late members Julian Brown and Tilly de la Mare). I am, naturally,
> >> writing on behalf of the Committee to express dismay at the loss of the
> >> Chair but the more people who write in protest the better.
> >>
> >
> >
> >> The person to write to is: Professor Rick Trainor, The Principal, King¹s
> >> College, The Strand, London WC2R 2LS and copy to Professor Jan
> Palmowski,
> >> Head of the School of Arts and Humanities."
> >>
> >
> > Fuller details are available at:
> >
> >    -
> >
> > And the link below leads to an easy online system for signing a petition
> > about this matter:
> >
> >    -
> >
> >
> > --
> > Dominik Wujastyk
> > University of Vienna

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