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Will the study of archaeology soon become a thing of the past?
pdurdin Wrote:I've got nothing at all, and they made me an unconditional offer!
Mature student entry to archaeology degrees is one point at which archaeology experience can be valued over paper qualifications.

Quote:Those that do get jobs in their degree field often end up having mid-life crises a few years down the track when they realise that their career isn't what they really want to be doing.
But that's a "midlife crisis" and has nothing to do with archaeology specifically or choice of degree subject. It happens to a lot of people and not just those who did degrees. It constantly amazes me that people expect to enjoy doing something at forty that they first enjoyed/decided on when they were eighteen. Nothing like your first glimpse of impending mortality to lend a little perspective to your personal rat race. Not really that much of a surprise. I had a midlife crisis and became an archaeologist, so in fairness that aspect cuts both ways.
And to it's credit very few archaeologists who leave the subject in mid life, do so because they suddenly hate 'archaeology'.....more to do with disillusion with the career structure rather than the subject....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
Quote:But that's a "midlife crisis" and has nothing to do with archaeology specifically or choice of degree subject.

Aha! So that explains why I've been standing naked in the back garden roaring abuse at the neighbours. I was beginning to wonder . . .
I think the crisis for archaeologist comes after the first four or five years. If you stick it in to mid life then you are in for the long haul and only leave kicking and screaming. I bet there are more people whose mid life crises took them into archaeology than there are those who willingly left because of it. I am like Kel, good but boring and ultimately souless job (fantastic pension) all chucked in to be an archaeologist. Why you may ask? Life is far too short to waste it on a relentless rat race for goodies that you cannot take with you when you go.
AcademiaTrowl Wrote:Doug your numbers include Forensics Science students,according to UCAs there are around 500 Undergrads doing single hons BA in archaeologyand about 250 BSc, but that does not include duel Hon’s students (the bread andbutter of many departments). But your right the numbers has not been affectedby fees. One of the problems facing archaeology departments as nicelyillustrated in this piece posted by BAJR is that elite Universities are puttingpressure on recruiters to up entry grades so they can move up the national and internationalleague tables, then attract better students, more endowments, more researchmoney, and better staff... in theory.

Actually no, my numbers do not include forensic science students that would put numbers somewhere around 12-15,000 students. It is impossible to separate out Forensic from archaeology but there is very little cross over. So my numbers are a little bit off but not that much.

Better students, pressure, etc. I completely get where you are coming from but I don't think the numbers support this theory. First, UCAS ([FONT=&amp][I]Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) [/FONT][/I]is a good indication of interest from students but I did not use those numbers as I looked at total students (data from HE stats). The UCAS tend to have poor coverage of non-UK students, about 15% of the total number of archaeology students. UCAS also tends to exclude mature students as well. They primarily focus on full-time undergraduate courses every year and my numbers looked at both undergrad and postgrad.

Even then Archaeology had a 4.2 ratio of applicants to acceptance (again, more traditional students). Also, looking at their tariff's which I know does not translate directly into AAB, BBB, etc. but there appears to be no shortage of students with good enough grades to make it into "higher end" universities (average tariff was 280). Probably because each year there is a record number of top students. Ah, the joys of grade inflation. 10-20 years ago an AAB or BBB (well their equivalent) meant something now they are a dime a dozen.

Yeah there will be pressure to only accept AAB (or equivalent, not everyone is ranked the same) but when everyone has one of those there will be very little pressure on departments.

This all of course does not mean that someone with an eye to cut programmes that are not performing (however one defines such a silly notion) will not look towards archaeology. It just means that student numbers will have very little to do with these (at least loss of full time students- low numbers to begin with might be a problem).

PS- I forgot to mention that the number of Non-UK students has done up about 1% of the total (e.g. was 15% last year, now 16%, etc.) each year for archaeology students. These students don't need AAB (because they pay so much money) so even if there is a slight drop in UK students will be made up with by everyone else.
Wax Wrote:Life is far too short to waste it on a relentless rat race for goodies that you cannot take with you when you go.
^Very much this for me. Once I realised that the pensions were shot and retirement was never going to be an option, I figured I'd better try and find something worthwhile that I wouldn't mind doing until I bought the farm. It's a strategy which still might not work out but at least I can say I tried.
UCAS provide freely available data on UK applicants; theyseparate v400 and the v401/2 (among other codes) into BA archaeology and BSC archaeologicalsciences which includes some, not all, forensic science students. When I gotthe data last this was BA: 558 BSc: 1851 (including forensics) with about 2417individual applications for BAs and 100 more places finally taken up than the452 people who wrote UCAS applications (as you say these extras come from mature student’sand overseas student’s). But this was a couple of years ago, this data is recycledby a number of other higher education institutions and unedited it tends to overrepresent the numbers of students in archaeology because of the massive rise inForensic courses/students from 2001 onwards (of the 1851 only about 10% are archeologists).It is not impossible to separate this information, UCAS have a whole team of researcherswho answer specific questions, they will do this for a fee.
Foreign students need to provide a certificate/proof of equivalencefor their grades; they also need to have a certificate of competence in the Englishlanguage, so their entrance requirements are actually higher than for UK students.As for fees, Undergraduate fees are the same for home and overseas students at £9k, postgraduatefees depend on institution, and course studied but overseas students can be around£4k higher than home students which is a much better reflection of what it actuallycosts to teach them.
The numbers of students looks stable despite fees and hasbeen since 1998-2001 with a rise in science students at that point (and declinein about 200 BA students as they choose to take BScs instead, and a slight risein the numbers as a result in the increased diversity). The most obvious changein the last decade was the increase in the number of degree awardinginstitutions increasing from about 15 in 1998 to over 33 in 2009, all competingfor the same pool of student’s and giving the impression to the established institutionsthat numbers were falling off.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not painting a negative picture,unlike many in academia; archaeology will continue to be taught atUniversities. That is not the point, the numbers of students at the top end isa finite resource (and decreasing, last year’s grades were down and that looks likea trend which will stay because of increasing pressure on standards). With more institutions competing for the samenumber of students, at the top and across the sector there will be changes inthe provision of archaeology degrees.
This is a much better position than many heads of departmentswere predicting a few years ago, with some negatively suggesting only 3institutions will remain active. What is more likely to happen is that theprovision will spread out across the sector as some top end universities reducethe size of their teams and merge archaeology back into the history andclassics departments they arouse out of. Some institutions are trying to positioningthemselves as postgraduate institutions, this is a good strategy but risky dependingon fashions and access to loans, so it may not provide long term stability. Othersare becoming joint degree providers, or distance learning providers.
Because of these changes you can understand why some academicsare quite worried, esp. those in the highest risk institutions (the lowere part of the half of the top half if you like) they have the most to lose as they also have high staff numbers.This worry is exacerbated at the moment because it is an REF audit year. The academicstaff research output audit is designed to allow the ‘fair’ subdivision ofdecreasing amounts of gov research funding based on research quality; it is likelythat many institutions will do better than last time, but get less moneyputting more pressure still on staff heavy institutions.
As to cutting programs, if any unit in any university isnot covering its own costs/performing inline with a university benchmark it isin trouble, esp if staff make promises they cannot fulfill. This can bemeasured in lots of ways, you may think some of them are silly (I will not disagree)but performance and income indicators are here to stay, like it or not theyhave become part of the higher education landscape. Universities are changing,restructuring and trying to find their place in a new system, archaeology will continueto exist but as with all things it will change, and there is room for thatchange to happen without ‘the study of archaeology [becoming] a thing of thepast? as this thread rather negatively puts it.

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