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Catch 22 - Printable Version

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Catch 22 - gwyl - 5th November 2010

a friend of mine - who is an academic and who runs a field school every year - assures me that it is not the job of universities to train up field staff, that's the units' responsibility, apparently.
the requirement to do 3 weeks fieldwork is window-dressing, but then again the courses are all 'academic' - no more Bournemouth 2yr diploma course - which my limited experience of people who had done that was of extremely competent and knowledgeable field-workers who were better equipped than my fellows at university.
in a situation where universities largely wash their hands of fieldwork, bar for a member of staff have labour to carry out their research, Ginger and Dirty Boy have only done what they could in the circumstances; that said 20yrs ago i was working every holiday break i could on site, paid and unpaid
plus ca change Sad


Catch 22 - Oxbeast - 5th November 2010

"In the days of increased tuition fees, I would expect that more students would complain about the lack of specfic training, as they're going to be paying through the nose for it. Universities really do need to be getting on this. I would like to see (and would have liked when I was a student) the concept that students are customers, and treated as such by Universities. However, doing all of the extra curricular stuff will get you top of the pile."

In the days of increased tuition fees, I would expect fewer students to want to do archaeology in the first place, and for those that do, to do research like ginger about the market, skills requirements and careers. In the case of the OP, she says she chose academic courses over practical courses and field schools. But it is largely down to the economy. When I started a few years ago, I went staright into my first job on the back of three months digging and about a month each of surveying and geophysics, but asd Dinosaur says, I don't think I had many useful skills for a commercial site. The research digs were on good sites, but the supervisors did all the recording, so I had no idea where to start there.

If you come out of university owing fifty grand or more at 9% interest, you pretty much have to start trying to pay it off straight away. If you proceed in the usual archaeological career, your debt will have doubled by the time you make over 21K and start trying to pay it off. You will be covering it out of your state pension or something equally horrible.


Catch 22 - geodan - 5th November 2010

Why do commercial archaeologists expect university archaeological departments to pump out functioning cannon fodder? Yes, the job of universities is to equip their graduates with a useable set of skills but their focus will always be to provide students with broad background archaeological knowledge not how to dig and record a feature in 30 seconds or supervise a 360.

This attitude says everything about where this profession currently is - costed on the cheap, employed on the cheap, no training budget, no prospects.


Catch 22 - Dinosaur - 5th November 2010

Sadly there aren't too many research excavations these days, and with all the cutbacks there aren't going to be too many academic posts for graduates to go after as an alternative, and they're mostly already occupied.... can't remember where I saw it published, but a senior environmental archaeology type recently pointed out in print that they don't understand all the courses training up specialists, since there are only a certain number of jobs in most fields and they're all already occupied, mostly still by the same people who invented them in the 70s and 80s.... digging holes is really the only opening for most grads if they want to stay in archaeology (if they can get one!), and while a passing knowledge of early Mesopotanian irrigation techniques is maybe a good thing in general terms, some skills that might actually get the graduate a job seem like a good idea?


Catch 22 - Unitof1 - 5th November 2010

What I don?t understand about student loans is that if you went to a ?real? bank of real wxxxxers I don?t think that they would lend you any money for an archaeology course. How come The student loan company get away with using terms like loan surely this is predatory lending and really the student loan company is a loan shark. It used to be a subsidised loan now its not (wonder what the taliban think about that being muslins)

It seems to me that archaeologists by trying to make archaeology popular, encouraging things like communituty archaeology, museums are aiding to the future dept situation of students by encouraging them to do archaeology. I think that it should be broadcast which archaeology student has the biggest student loan and no job in archaeology. Maybe for every archaeology graduate that does not go on to become an archaeologist the academics should pay a fine. We should name and shame them. Which academics lectures students are least likely to ever get a job in archaeology?

The truth is geodan that All student archaeology courses NEVER had any intention of students going on to become archaeologists even in the good times:
http://www.universityarchaeology.org.uk/for-parents-and-teachers/careers.html

The truth is anybody going into commercial archaeology is an embarrassment to them. In more recent times the bullshit has become applied even thicker- this must have been written by the academics and the student loan company
http://www.independent.co.uk/student/into-university/az-degrees/archaeology-756176.html
Quote:[SIZE=3]At Worcester they have technicians who support students with practical skills on top of normal lectures and seminars.

[/SIZE]
ooooh


Catch 22 - gwyl - 5th November 2010

geodan Wrote:Why do commercial archaeologists expect university archaeological departments to pump out functioning cannon fodder?
it's not a question of expecting universities to pump out cannon fodder - it's more that people leave university with certain expectations and a level of experience which is not commensurate with those expectations; moreover, excavation is a skill which requires years to develop; some are better than others, but anyone excavating is always learning whether day one or year twenty-one; universities however if they are to be educating archaeologists, rather than graduates who have, for want of a better word, majored in archaeology do have the same obligation as units to instil more than the theoretical principals if they are also leading their students to believe that they are the next generation of Wheelers, Hawkes, and so forth; it is therefore clear to me that for those who wish to continue in field archaeology field work is necessary, in the same way that you would perhaps do an MSc in Osteology before trying to get to grips with a bone assemblage, or whatever. the attitude that anyone can dig is widespread, and it's true if you are only talking about knocking out some earth - but really it is a fallacy; if you are going to dig archaeologically and make sense of it requires skill. Although as Dinosaur points out - and experience confirms - there are an awful lot of people out there with first, second and third degrees, still digging. it ought not to be seen as where the rejects end up - which is sometimes the feeling, not being a 'specialism' - but that is a crock. the (big yellow) trowel is the first point of contact - and able use of it should be acknowledged as the specialism it is; what's the problem, if well done, of using a machine to excavate an enormous ditch, for example?

geodan Wrote:This attitude says everything about where this profession currently is - costed on the cheap, employed on the cheap, no training budget, no prospects.
Join your union. Join the IfA. Mobilise. Take action. Whatever...
Aux armes, camarade.Wink


Catch 22 - geodan - 5th November 2010

Archaeology degrees equip graduates with plenty of skills to help them get a job, most of which are necessarily broad based as the great majority of those graduates either have no intention of becoming commercial archaeologist or will run screaming after a very swift dip of their toes in commercial waters.

It is not the job of universities to provide graduates with anything other than a passing aquaintance with a shovel and mattock and its laughable that so many commercial archaeologists think that it is. If we were talking about a vocational course, e.g. the Bournemouth HND, failing to produce funtioning commercial field archaeologists then that's a different matter entirely.

In any case it is probable that the number of academic departments will shrink over the next few years and numbers of students in / graduates out decrease. Many academic dept's may retreat to even more high brow non practical ground as a consequence of shifts in funding, student expectation etc. The consequence being far fewer graduates who have even the slightest aquaintance with field skills.


Catch 22 - Dinosaur - 5th November 2010

Maybe IFA should be cajolled into approaching the Universities funding body on this issue? :face-stir:


Catch 22 - geodan - 5th November 2010

Oh and by the way - I work in comnercial archaeology, and am a union and IFA member


Catch 22 - Oxbeast - 5th November 2010

I completely agree geodan.

"Sadly there aren't too many research excavations these days, and with all the cutbacks there aren't going to be too many academic posts for graduates to go after as an alternative, and they're mostly already occupied.... "

'Academic' or 'commerical' are not the only two things which graduate archaeologists do. I wouldn;t be surprised if more of the people I went to university with ended up as accountants, managers or lawyers or joining the services as became archaeologists. Or even became politicians like Nick Clegg. It is not the job of universities to train archaeologists to work in UK commercial archaeology. University education should be broader and more rounded, with an emphasis on transferrable skills. Vocational qualifications are narrower, with more emphasis on practical training for a specific career.