Department bosses reject claims they are understaffed following “incorrect” petition stats


University staff have hit back at claims from campaigners and Nouse that the English Department is understaffed.

This follows a recent petition started by students from the department, which has garnered over 180 signatures at the time of writing.

The petition claimed that English students were suffering from a high student to staff ratio. They claimed this was out of line with most other departments at the University, and was down to an increase in student numbers over time not met by an increase in staff.

However, David Attwell, the head of the English department, hit back at the petition and the related Nouse article, claiming figures cited in both are incorrect.

He said: “The staff-student ratio has weakened recently, but not to the extent that has been suggested. The 32% increase in student numbers has taken effect over a ten-year period, rather than since 2012, as reported.

“The staff numbers over a similar period are difficult to calculate, because of fluctuations involving research and fellowship grants, the involvement of part-time staff, maternity leave, and other factors.

“A reasonable estimate of the full-time staff ten years ago would be around 35, as against 40 this year, so we have seen staff increases in the order of 12-15%.

“The Planning Office is currently exploring options to improve the staff:student ratio in English.”

Attwell did not comment on claims that money from the University’s financial surplus could be used to hire more members of staff.

Benedetta Pusateri, one of the students who started the petition and the third year English Literature Course Representative, said she wanted to “raise awareness” amongst students and staff.

The petition was posted to the popular online campaigning website
The petition was posted to the popular online campaigning website

She originally said: “I have raised the issue multiple times with senior manager members of the university and my requests were not taken seriously.”

Despite the anger behind the petition, there was an overwhelming praise of the current staff members of the English department. Pusateri said: “We could not ask for better people in the department, but we must definitely ask for more.”