Archaeology for all - Council for British Archaeology

Archaeology Matters

CBA responds to UK Government announcement on post-18 education

Kings Manor, University of York

The UK Government’s latest announcement on post-18 education in the UK proposes a cut in funding to the 43 Universities who deliver archaeology degrees.

UK archaeology departments comprise the entire Top 4 for the 2020 World Subject rankings and this measure will affect the provision of fieldwork opportunities and archaeological science at a time when the costs of teaching archaeology have not dropped, either proportionately or in real terms.

The delivery of transferable skills is critical at a time when employment in archaeology is in the national interest if economic growth and productivity targets are to be met. Our graduates are at the heart of planning system, the tourism and museums sectors and to a sense of place-making that will be central to our recovery.

The Office for Students expect to launch a consultation on these proposals in mid-February 2021 and to make decisions in May 2021. 

The CBA will be working with our university colleagues to help make a strong case for archaeology as part of the consultation. We encourage supporters of archaeology to do the same.  

Letter in The Times

Neil Redfern, Executive Director of the Council for British Archaeology was a co-signatory to a letter published by The Times on 6 February regarding this matter:

Sir, The Department for Education proposes cutting funding for certain so-called high-cost degrees including archaeology, which is taught in 43 universities across the UK. Serious financial implications for departments of archaeology will result in a paucity of trained archaeologists. Professional archaeology depends on university degrees as well as a wealth of practical competence. Contemporary archaeology is founded on meticulous excavation and state-of-the-art scientific analyses using the principles of physics, chemistry, biology and statistics — everything from satellites to scanning electron microscopes — thus blending the sciences with the humanities through questions of identity, power and belonging. An archaeology degree course provides grounding in the sciences, scrupulous training in fieldwork and a feeling for the debates embracing our history.

Archaeology also underpins the heritage industry, which through tourism generates £31 billion a year. Furthermore, there is a deep enthusiasm for archaeology in Britain.

The government’s proposal would, apart from the academic damage, undermine these tourism and heritage sectors, including the key role that archaeologists play in enabling development. We urge the government to reconsider.

Signed: Professor Chris Gosden, University of Oxford, and chairman of the archaeology section at the British Academy; Professor Amy Bogaard, head of the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford; Paul Drury, president, Society of Antiquaries; Professor Chris Gerrard, chairman, University Archaeology UK; Lizzie Glithero-West, chief executive, Heritage Alliance; Peter Hinton, chief executive, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists; Professor Nicky Milner, head of the Department of Archaeology, York University; Dr Kate Pretty, vice-president Council for British Archaeology; Neil Redfern, executive director, Council for British Archaeology; Dr Alison Sheridan, National Museum of Scotland


Studying archaeology at university equips you not only for an archaeological career but a whole range of other options after study. Archaeology students will tell you that there's no limit to what you can learn and the experiences you can expect.

Hear the academic's view and the experiences of students at different stages of their study in our short film.

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