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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

Professor's sudden departure leaves students and staff in the dark

Department of Divinity, History, and Philosophy undergoes divestment plans leaving students and staff compromised

By Maria Franz

Photo courtesy of The Gaudie.

Aberdeen University Professor Stefan Brink’s sudden departure from Scandinavian Studies– is puzzling students and staff within the department of Divinity, History and Philosophy.. Questions from students and fellow scholars still remain unanswered, exposing the University’s failure to resolve the difficulties connected to Professor Stefan Brink’s departure. Brink is a renowned scholar in his research field and known throughout Europe

Students and staff are awaiting information connected to the effects of the new divestment plan. Some results of the restructuring measures are already visible but university members remain confused. The Centre for Scandinavian Studies has been reduced to one member of staff – from originally four. Additionally, the Masters programme is to be closed down next academic year.

Graduate students from the Centre of Scandinavian Studies were informed by the Head of School on April 30th that the Centre was an important part of the department’s future. Subsequently, an academic journal due be published from the Centre was cancelled on the 23rd May and students were asked to vacate their offices by 17th August due to ‘changes in DHP estate’.

Prof. Stefan Brink’s students were informed by the Head of School of his departure, leaving some with new supervisors while others lacked a replacement supervisor. A claim in contradiction to Sweeney insisting that no student had been affected, as the Gaudie reported (4/10/18)

The subsequent petitions and coverage of Brink’s departure are being seen as contributing to the University's damaged reputation.

The disinvestment plan became apparent to academic staff as colleagues were departing. Daniel Cutts, a PhD student, claims that consequently “fourteen graduate students are variously imperilled”. The extent and effects of financial difficulties in the department are unknown.

AUSA education officer Donna Connelly voiced concerns at the University senate meeting on Wednesday saying, “students feel let down, abandoned, lied to, and are not sure who to trust’ in light of the restructuring measures. “The accounts from the affected students are heart-breaking, and something I haven’t expected to hear from our University” stated Connelly.

Principal Boyne explained that having met with affected students and Professor Brink, he is fully aware of the current situation in the Centre of Scandinavian Studies and will “come to a successful conclusion of the supervision arrangements”. Boyne asks for patience and is hopeful that they “will get to a place which is right for the students”.

Further meetings with affected students will take place and Boyne says he hopes to have an outcome by the end of the week. “It’s a complex and somewhat delicate and fragile situation, not only for the students” said the Principal.

Jeff Oliver, senior lecturer in Archaeology, commented on the matter noting that “the restructuring measures towards the Centre of Scandinavian Studies is equally impacting the department of Archaeology in terms of recruitment, teaching and workload”. Oliver stated that “Scandinavian Studies and Archaeology started together and through our connections are strong together”. Oliver expressed his concern by saying the department was seeing “people disappearing suddenly and things falling apart, colleagues worried and a great deal of concern”.

A leaflet given out at Senate by students in the Scandinavian Studies Department claims that the disinvestment strategies “might have detrimental impacts on students and their mental health”. Financial difficulties may affect students and academic staff in the future as well; the potential loss of funding, ineligibility for replacement grants and additional costs associated with extensions of study period are serious issues the department will probably need to face.

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